The distillation process of liquors and spirits

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The production of spirits and liquors is an important part of the industrial system of our country. Although we need to make a clear distinction between these two kind of beverages.

Spirits and liquors are both high alcohol degree beverages, produced with very different techniques: the first ones are distillates of fermented products; the second ones are obtained simply by mixing of infusion. The liqueurs or liquor drinks are a mixture of ethanol or water with brandy, sugar, spices, essences, essential oils.

There are various preparation techniques: you can make an infusion of the plant or of the aromatic herb in the alcoholic and sweetened liquid; or you can distill the alcoholic liquid containing the herbal substance, thereby extracting the aroma; or you can simply mix alcohol or spirit, spices, water and sugar. The variety of raw materials results in a wide variety of beverages, prepared with recipes often jealously guarded by the producers or even patented. The alcohol content is variable, generally between 20% and 50%. Among the most famous liquors we remember the limoncello, the nocino, the laurino, the flavored grappa, the gineprino etc.

With the name of spirits we include all alcoholic beverages fermented and distilled. The process used to produce spirits provides for the distillation of fermented mixtures containing low-alcohol, which is concentrated to obtain alcohol with high alcohol content.
Distillation is a process based on the different boiling point of liquid of different composition that enables to separate the different components of a liquid mixture.

The first rudimentary tool for producing distillate was called alembic and its invention is attributed to the Islamic chemist Jabir ibn Hayyan, between the VIII century and the IX century. The alembic is a boiler in which to heat the mixture to separate, a condenser where the vapors that separate from the boiling mixture are cooled and a container that collects the steam condensed, enriched by the substances with lower boiling point.
By repeating this process several times you can concentrate more and more the solution by increasing also the alcohol content.
When you make a distillation, the first and the last fraction of distillate are discarded, head and tail, because they contain harmful substances such as methyl alcohol (methanol) and other alcohol different from the methyl alcohol. The heart instead is used, consisting in ethyl alcohol and water. The current legislation provides for spirits alcohol content between 30% and 86%, the rate of methanol tolerated depends on the type of spirit.

These techniques are very old but are still widespread in Italy, especially with regard to spirits. Distil literally means pull our "drop by drop" and then in a broader sense to derive the essence, namely the "spirit" by something. And this is exactly the meaning and value of the ancient art of preparing liquors. What master distillers and spirits and liquors manufacturers are proposing themselves to do is offer to fans, experts and consumers a showcase of excellence, where quality and variety of spirits is offered in its splendor.

This article was written by Martina Meneghetti, with support from grappa moscato . For any information please visit grappa prime uve , please visit liquore morbido .

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