About distilling


The word alcohol comes from the Arab language (al-Kuhl) and means the finest. Latin word spiritus means the spirit. They gave these names to the alcoholic liquid, because it possesses large evaporability.

The Arabs where producing already around the year 1000 A.D. a distillate from wine - the brandy. First it was used only as medicine. In the middle of the 14. Century the distilled “weyn” was popular trading article already and an often abused luxury.


Distilling apparatuses

Destillierapparat um 1846

Potato distil, 1846, (model 1:10) This arrangement with two distil blisters was announced 1817 by J.L. Pistorius in Prussia to the patent.

Impact of the distillation apparatus

The way of the to be distilled mash, in this case fermented potatoes, leads from the mash tub by means of a pump to the pre-heater and Rektifikator, then to the first distil blister and last to the main blister. At last it will be consolidated to high-per cent alcohol in a cooling container. From the mash with an alcohol content of approx.. 12 % it obtains spiritus steams with an alcohol content of 80 %.

Production of the mash

The mashing today still the first, and sometimes the last stage after the picking of fruit in the production of the fruit brandy. Nowhere else can so much go wrong. The stage of the fermentation is still crucial for the quality of the later distillation. The optimal condition and the ripeness of the fruit are the first conditions for a first-class distil.

 At the tree or bush matured fruits contain more sugar and have a strong and sort-typical flavour and above all it must be clean and healthy. Mould spots or fouled fruits are the fright of the micro organisms, which are responsible for a desired mash quality. A careful selection by hand and the removing from leafs are indispensable.

 In the past wooden keg’s were used to make the mash, today plastic or stainless steel containers are used instead, which can be cleaned substantially more easily and more thoroughly and also better hermetically locked. After the selection of the fruit it get's washed and cut up afterwards. Also here each distiller swears on his kind of cutting up (meal mill, Muser, drill, Raetzermuehle). When the fruit is in the barrel, then a pure breed yeast is mixed in it, so that a brisk and steered fermentation can take place and it doesn't come to spontaneous fermentation, which can lead to fermenting errors of different kinds.

 Pure breed yeasts guarantee for a controlled, even fermentation without stagnations, if the temperature in the ferment room does not drop under 10 degrees Celsius. With closely locked fermenting containers, provided with a fermenting bung on the cover, now the yeast can split the fruit sugar up into alcohol and the carbon dioxide escaping over the fermenting bung. Air is harmful because of the growth of bacteria for the mash.

 At an ideal fermenting temperature from 15 to 20 degrees Celsius this procedure lasts for, depending upon kind of fruit, three to five weeks, before starting the distilling. The distiller need to led the customs office know one week before beginning of distillation to get an "grant for alcohol production" and he needs to pay alcohol-expensively "indirect tax".


Distillate treatment


Before the distillate is lowered to drinking strength by means of calcium and magnesium-poor water, and before it can be filled in bottles, the high-per cent distillate must rest and mature. With the storage of the noble distillate technical innovations are less interesting than while burning. Here you need patience. The still rough and often inharmonious fresh distillate should get a moderate and improved flavour by the chemical processes during storing.

This storage effected usually in glass balloons or stainless steel containers and should take at least 6 months, whereby the containers is only filled too three-quarters. Also a maturing in wooden keg is sometimes practiced, however the self-dynamics of the distillate are more or less affected by the wood, depending upon the duration of remaining in the wood keg. Wood has besides faster maturing different effects on the distillate, positive like color and additional flavours, sometimes negative. Not all distillates are suitably for the storage in wooden keg's, because of the contact with the atmospheric oxygen an early dropping, occasionally even a turn rancid of the distillate is caused.

Fruit distillates in the past

At many Distilleries the history goes back over many generations. Often the founder date or other interesting characteristics can be reread, not rarely such recordings go back over centuries. How it began at that time, is not exactly disproved, because not everything was documented in past times. Usually it was a secret prehistory, the founder fathers collected experiences already as an side business and so some "interesting" had not been written down at all. It verbally passed on to the hereditary son, at best the prehistory is based on assumptions and estimations.

On the search for the then liquor culture you find hardly more than individual fragments. It also occurred, they said , that some distiller consumed as much from its good drop that he was not able any more to pass on the "Know how".

 The question, which is asked today under distillery colleagues, is completely another and could read, "is today’s quality good ". From verbal passed on stories it shows, that in each municipality there were distillers, which always manufactured an excellent distillate where it happened accordantly clean. At some liquor burners you could see with an close look at the sight of the distilling equipment that the liquor is of an poor quality, and the result was nothing but a "Schiesshueslar", as it was called in the vernacular, which deplorably stank and while drinking it, it burns like "fire in the throat ".

 We should not forget that the medieval monasteries rendered large services around the European-wide spreading of the distilling art. They maintained not only schools, but also Wine cellars and Distils, originally implemented for medicine production.

Fruit distillates today

Distillates, how they were produced in the long history of the fruit distillery, would probably have no more place in the new consumption society. And it is good like that, because as in the wine business in the last one and a half decades the production increased not on quantity but on highest quality.

The fermenting and distilling techniques, as well as the storage, that lower to drinking strength, and enjoying with the correct glass at ideal temperature is well-known to everyone and no more a secret. In addition the variety of the fruit and berry distils, and recently also Cuvees, don't leave no desires open for the Gourmets.