How is alcohol made?
There are two types of alcohol: Fermented (Non-distilled: Beer, Sake, Cider, Wine) and Fermented (Distilled: Brandy, Gin, Vodka, etc). Distillation is the process of separating alcohol from water via evaporation and condensation. This is the process I use to make the ABV % (Alcohol by Volume) Distillate for my tinctures.
The process is fairly simple but you do need the right equipment to produce a high quality distillate that can be diluted to suit the purpose for which it is intended. Here is an overview of the process I use to produce the distillate I use in my tinctures so you can fully understand how it is made. I prefer to make it myself as I know what is going into it and can guarantee its purity.
Step 1: Preparing the Wash OR Mash
If you are using a Wash it mainly consists of a mixture of water, sugar, yeast and carbon. The carbon is used to remove any impurities in the wash and improves the overall outcome of the distillate.
If you are using a Mash it may contain fresh plant matter such as apples, pears, oats, potatoes, etc. I prepare them by removing their skins, cooking them until soft and them mashing. This is then added to the water, yeast and carbon. Extra sugar can be added at this stage to speed up the process.
I often make my distillate out of apples off my tree in the summer as they are a natural source of sugar and ferment beautifully. Pears are even nicer. So when fruit is cheap and plentiful is a great time to make your mash.
Step 2: Fermentation
Depending on the wash or mash you use will directly affect the time it takes to ferment. I place my mixture into a large 30 liter sealed container specifically designed for this process - it has a small airlock on the top so that the air produced by the fermentation can be released without contamination of the mash.
Once this process is complete the airlock will clearly show that there are no more bubbles being produced.
Step 3: Preparing the Wash/Mash
24 prior to distilling I add a special ingredient that assists the wash/mash to remove 95% of the yeast cells, any excess solids and other compounds that are not needed. This ensures that the distillate contains no weird smells or flavor and is super pure.
Step 4: Distillation
Now this is the fun part as all of your hard work finally pays off with a super pure 92% alcohol. I pour the final mixture into the main body of the still and secure the lid. I connect the cold water to the condenser and turn on the heat. The still must be heated to a certain temperature before it is ready to separate the alcohol from the water. Once the temperature is reached I turn on the cold water so that the condenser starts cooling the area where the steam is collecting. This steam contains the alcohol. The condenser then cools the steam and just like magic the alcohol comes out of the end of gthe condenser, less the water.
The first 150 mls is thrown away as this may contain any volatile oils or parts that are dangerous to consume. Then the still continues to go until it has run its course. Normally I get about 3-5 liters of distillate out of a 30 liter wash/mash.
Step 4: Dilution
I dilute the distillate to the % alcohol needed for each herb (ABV% = Alcohol by Volume) Different plants require different ABV % to be able to extract the part of the plant we need. I use a hygrometer for this process. This measures the amount of alcohol.
Step 4: Tincture
Tinctures are a fabulous way of taking herbal medicine - they are absorbed quickly into your body to ensure you get the desired affect in a timely fashion. I have made my own tinctures for years and have quite the plethora of bottles next to my bed for sleep, anxiety and pain.
The tinctures I make all contain distillates made myself. This ensures the purity of what I am giving you. I tincture the plant matter for 6-10 weeks and after that time frame it is carefully strained 3-4 times and placed in bottles ready for creating wonderful blends. Each tincture I prepare is made to order so it guarantees freshness and quality.
Any questions? Please ask. I am happy to share my knowledge of this process. I also have distillate available if you would like to try this yourself. This is only available by request.