The Blue Flame
Reprinted Courtesy of Guito's Vineyards Inc.
1 - INTRODUCTION AND ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
Those of us who have spent time in Saudi Arabia discovered that there is a generous quantity and wide variety of alcohol available even though it is absolutely forbidden to possess, sell, carry, drink or manufacture. Moreover, we have discovered, it is of excellent quality, nearly hangover-proof, and every ounce manufactured in almost any household kitchen! The preparation of such alcohol, Sadiki Juice, as we call it, is a respected secret, yet always eagerly shared with good friends.
Historically, alcoholic distillation began with the Arabs who, however, did not invent, but greatly improved the cumbersome methods used by the Greeks in distilling turpentine from rosin. The Arabs were the first to distill wine, and our wood alcohol is plainly Arabic in origin. The present prohibitions in Saudi Arabia is sternly enforced; especially by adherents of the Islam (Moslem) religion; hence, take care of this booklet and remember discreet handling is mandatory, particularly in Saudi Arabia.
These pages are a condensation of material written by countless investigators. We take little credit for them, other than providing you with this copy. All credit for the technical data and methodology outlined herein belongs to some gracious hosts "on the hill" and to the authors of the Encyclopaedia Britannica published by William Benton, 1959; Colliers Encyclopaedia published by P.F. Collier and Son, 1955; and Grossman's Guide to Wine, Spirits and Beer by Harold J. Grossman.TOP >>
2 - PROPERTIES OF ALCOHOL
Liquor includes all alcoholic beverages made by distillation, as distinguished from those made by fermentation such as beer and wine but even distilled liquors begin with a fermented alcoholic solution.
Any carbohydrate source, such as sugar, properly fermented and distilled, can produce a potable spirit, i.e. ETHYL ALCOHOL, more or less diluted with water and carrying volatile essences which give it a characteristic flavour.
If distillation is done efficiently and the distillate re-distilled, the final product is colourless, flavourless, pure ethyl alcohol and no testing analysis can reveal whether its source was wine, beets, potatoes, fruit, grain, or sugar. It is chemically the same, no matter what its source. Pure ETHYL ALCOHOL is a colourless liquid having a mild agreeable odour and a burning taste. It very easily mixes with water, thereby reducing its strength, and will absorb moisture from the air.
It should be noted that when alcohol is mixed with water, heat is evolved and a slight contraction of volume results. Thus, if a volume of 100 per cent alcohol were mixed with an equal volume of pure water the result would not be exactly 50 per cent alcohol but about 43 per cent alcohol by volume.
Many names are applied to ETHYL ALCOHOL, such as grain alcohol, ethanol, spirit-of-wine, or cologne spirits.
Pure ethyl alcohol boils at 172.9 deg. F. (78.3degC) It readily burns in air with an almost colourless, smokeless flame producing water and carbon dioxide at a heat a little over half as hot as burning gasoline.
Alcohol vapours form explosive mixtures with air when the concentration of alcohol vapour is greater than 4.3 per cent, but less than 19.0 per cent by volume. The flash point of 190 proof alcohol is 63 deg. F. (17.2degC); bourbon or 90 proof alcohol is 78 deg. F. (25.6degC) A liquid alcohol at above these temperatures is highly flammable.TOP >>
3 - EFFECTS OF ALCOHOL ON MAN
Alcohol is toxic to man because it is absorbed rapidly within the body directly into the blood stream but is converted only slowly to carbon dioxide and water. The reported rates of conversion vary from 3.5 to 15 cc/hour. If alcohol is absorbed at a faster rate than the rate at which it is metabolised (converted), the alcohol content of the body fluids builds up and acts as a depressant on the central nervous system. The effect is relaxing rather than stimulating.
A concentration of about 0.2 per cent results in moderate (high) intoxication; 0.3 per cent results in severe (stoned) intoxication; and 0.4 per cent in deep anaesthesia which may be fatal.
Theoretically, a large man can drink more than a small man because the effects of alcohol are directly proportional to the per cent of alcohol present in the body. The key is the metabolic rate of each person, not entirely his weight or size. If your body can convert alcohol to harmless carbon dioxide and water faster than the next man, you can "hold" more alcohol. However, emotional and physical factors tend to change the metabolic rate from day to day and even from hour to hour so that "no one" can say with any certainty that it takes a specific number of drinks to make him drunk.
Alcohol is the most efficient and practical relaxer of the driving force in the brain. We do not advocate that anyone ever drink for the KICK - drinking should only be done for pleasure, relaxation and the release to which the beverage contributes; it should be made a part of the good life.
Just as prohibition is bad, so is excess, and in no case is this truer than in the use of alcoholic beverages. There is no better word of advice on this point than that which Lord Chesterfield gave to his son, in the letter dated London, March 27, 1747.
"Were I to begin the world again with the experience I now have of it , I would lead a life of real, not imaginary pleasures. I would enjoy the pleasures of the table, and of wine; but stop short of the pains inseparably annexed to an excess of either."TOP >>
4 - U.S. PROOF SPIRIT AND HYDROMETER MEASUREMENT
The usual commercial liquor contains 95 per cent ethyl alcohol by volume and is called 190 U.S. proof spirit. U.S. proof is two times the per cent alcohol by volume at 60 deg. F. For example, 100 proof alcohol is 50 per cent alcohol by volume (British proof spirit is 57.1 per cent alcohol by volume).
Specially designated hydrometers are used to determine the alcoholic strength of watery solutions. They are graduated to indicate "0" for no alcohol, "100" for 50 per cent alcohol, and "200" for absolute or 100 per cent alcohol by volume at the standard temperature of 60 deg. F.
When you have distilled a volume of high proof alcohol, it is necessary to dilute (cut) it to the desired commercial strength. Do this simply by adding pure, clean water. If you want to exclude the flavour peculiar to some tap waters, then use distilled water. Distil your own water by running ordinary tap water through your still at a temperature in excess of 212 deg. F, (100degC) which is the boiling temperature of water.
To accurately cut the alcohol to a specific proof number, you need a thermometer, as well as a hydrometer. Slowly add water at 60 deg. F. to the alcohol, also at 60 deg. F., and check the proof number with the hydrometer as you proceed.TOP >>
5 - FERMENTATION OF ETHYL ALCOHOL
When yeast, a living fungi, grows in sugary solutions in the virtual absence of air, most of the sugar is converted into ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide gas. The alcohol and carbon dioxide formed almost equals, in total weight and in quantity of carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, the sugar consumed.
Common baker's yeast is a mass of tiny plants akin to bacteria that reproduce by budding. The living bodies of the yeast produce enzymes (sucrose and zymase) which, in turn, break up sugar (or starch) into alcohol and carbon dioxide. The chemical reaction is expressed as:
The formation of ethyl alcohol and carbon dioxide uses up almost 95 per cent of the sugar present and are the chief products of fermentation. However, the remaining 5 per cent of the sugar contributes to a simultaneous formation of several by-products (impurities) in very small proportions, such as glycerol, volatile acids, fusel oils or higher alcohol ethers, aldehydes and esters. It is these substances that give ethyl alcohol with its many peculiar flavours, colour and the seemingly ever-present "hangover". More about this quality under the heading of distillation.
Incidentally, poisonous methyl alcohol is not produced by the fermentation of pure sugar. It is manufactured by the destructive distillation of wood or cellulose, hence it is called 'wood alcohol'. The addition of fruit juices and fruit itself, which contain some starch, into the fermentation of pure sugar, as in home wine making, may yield some methyl alcohol but only in trace amounts. The pectin or starch compounds contained in fruits are generally insufficient to yield methyl alcohol of significant quantities, but from the view of eliminating hangover effect, any methyl alcohol is undesirable. Among the commercial liquors, brandy has the highest per cent of methyl alcohol.
The several general conditions required for efficient fermentation of a satisfactory alcoholic yield are a favourable temperature, specific proportions of sugar, water and yeast, food for the yeast, inhibition of vinegar formation and sufficient time. However sugar, water and yeast will produce an adequate yield of alcohol.
Temperature: High temperature kills the yeast plants whereas low temperatures decrease their rate of activity. The higher the temperature, the faster the rate of fermentation, but the lower the alcoholic yield. The optimum temperature is 78 deg. F. (25.6) Never exceed 90 deg. F. (32.2degC)
Sugar and water: The optimum ratio of sugar to water is 2 pounds to 1 gallon.
Yeast and time: The usual proportion of yeast is 1 cup to 5 gallons of water. At this ratio, other conditions being optimum the yeast will, in plus or minus 14 days, have manufactured enough ethyl alcohol to kill themselves and stop fermentation. Since the yeast will reproduce rapidly in sweet solution, using less than one cup of yeast is satisfactory; however, active fermentation will take a little longer to get going. Nevertheless, in plus or minus 14 days as the presence of alcohol increases, fermentation will stop. Let experience be your guide.
Yeast Food: Small amounts of inorganic salts, such as nitrogen, phosphate and potassium may be added to promote vigorous growth of the yeast plants. Household "Calgon Water Softener" is a safe and readily available food; or, use ammonium phosphate dibasic. The proportion is 1 level teaspoon of Calgon to 5 gallons of water.
Vinegar Inhibition: The solution of mash or wine upon exposure to oxygen will tend to promote the growth of another fungi which will manufacture vinegar. The addition of sulphuric acid to increase acidity of the solution to a pH of 4 or 5, or simply preventing prolonged exposure to oxygen (air) will prevent its growth. Cap your fermenter during fermentation and after. Caution: Carbon dioxide gas pressure will develop during fermentation, so you must provide for its constant release.
When fermentation is complete, the mash or wine will be turbid and must be allowed to settle. The sediment contains precipitated organic matter, yeast bodies and potassium tartarate. The settling may take several days or a week; or even months in the case of wine. Chilling the fermented mash and/or filtering will shorten the time it requires to sell. Siphon or decant the clear solution and discard the sediment. Try not to aerate the mash or wine unnecessarily thereby encouraging the formation of vinegar.
The resulting mash or wine now will be no more than 16 per cent and not usually less than 8 per cent ethyl alcohol by volume. Thus, it is a very dilute alcohol solution akin to most wines which must be concentrated by distillation if you are to have a high proof spirit. See Appendix E for the basic mash recipe.TOP >>
6 - DISTILLATION OF ETHYL ALCOHOL AND STILL DESIGN
Distillation is simply boiling a mixture to separate the more volatile (having the lowest boiling point) from the less volatile liquid, and then cooling and condensing the resulting vapour to produce a more nearly pure liquid. The non-volatile impurities will remain in the residue, which in this case is discarded.
To illustrate, if you had a mixture of water and glycerine, the water will begin to turn to steam (vaporise) long before the glycerine gets hot enough to vaporise appreciably. By keeping the temperature high enough to vaporise the water, but not high enough to appreciably vaporise the glycerine, you can collect and condense the water vapour, leaving most of the glycerine behind.
Direct distillation for alcohol can yield at best only the constant boiling mixture of alcohol and water (172.7 deg. F.) (78.2degC) containing 97.2 per cent alcohol by volume (194.4 proof) because this mixture boils 0.18 deg. F. LOWER than pure alcohol (172.9 deg. F.) (78.3degC); hence, do not expect more than 190 proof alcohol from your home still.
If ethyl alcohol is redistilled several times to 170 proof or better it will be a neutral spirit and all but free of any hangover producing components, such as the volatile acids, fusel oils, ethers, aldehydes and esters mentioned under the heading of fermentation. Commercial whiskey, i.e., is distilled out at a much lower proof specifically to retain these components pulled from the grain of which it was made to impart a desired flavour to the liquor. It is because of these components by-products (impurities) that you get a hangover; and, those of us who have tried both commercial liquor and 'Sadiki Juice' can swear to the veracity of this statement. The ethyl alcohol produced as described in this booklet and flavoured to make or duplicate the liquor you want is the best you will ever drink.
The simplest distillation apparatus, often used in High School chemistry laboratories, and employing Justin von Liebig's single surface condenser, consists of five basic parts as does any still; first, a heat source; second, a boiler to heat the mash; third, a thermometer to observe the vapour temperature; fourth, a condenser to cool and condense the vapor; and fifth, a receiver to collect the distillate.
The thermometer bulb should be mounted just below or in front of the outlet to the condenser to most accurately check the temperature. However it will work if located in the pot but care should be taken to prevent hot liquid from coming into contact with the bulb.
The usual home "pot" still is just a variation of ;the glass apparatus described above, but far safer. The pot should be made of stainless steel throughout to prevent corrosion by the hot acids produced during distillation. All fittings must be vapour tight to prevent leakage of alcohol or its vapours and possible explosion and fire. The tubing extending from the pot can be of almost any metal, but copper is the most practical. The condenser should be made of metal and not glass. It is a cylindrical metal box with copper tubing coiled up inside.
The best heat source is an electric stove. A gas stove or an open flame of any type are quite dangerous due to the ever present alcohol vapour. Immersion heaters are satisfactory, but they court disaster if through corrosion they become exposed and ignite the alcohol or its vapours.
The simple pot still requires three or four consecutive time-consuming distillations (runs) to produce a wholly pure, hangover proof distillate.
Home Pot Stills
Other Pot Stills
Design and make your own stainless steel pot of 5 to 10 gallons capacity with large machined or screw tops for easy cleaning. Be sure to install handles for easy handling.
There is infinite variety in design and materials in pot stills, in the alcoholic content of mashes, in thermometers, in heat sources, and in condensing apparatus; hence you must expect variation in the initial boiling temperatures. The following is a guide. As you gain experience, you will learn to judge your own temperature ranges depending upon the equipment you have.
First Run: (Start collecting at 170 to 180 through 205 deg. F. (77 to 82 through to 96degC) then stop.)
Second Run: (Start collecting at 170 to 180 through 204 deg. F. (77 to 82 through to 95.5degC) then stop.)
Third Run: (Start collecting at 170 to 172 through 184 deg. F (76 to 77 through to 84.5degC), then stop.)
Fourth Run: (Start collecting at 170 through 174 deg. F. (76.7 through to 78.9degC) then stop)
The Reflux or Fractional Distillation Still is a refinement of the preceding "pot" still but is more efficient and more complex in design; therefore, it produces in one run what the above stills may require three runs to do. A tubular metal reflux column packed with glass marbles, stainless steel wool, or a system of baffles and sieves is attached just above the pot. The olumn or tower should be combined with a top temperature control reflux condenser at its top.
Reflux or Fractional Distillation Still
The Reflux Still is nearly identical to the preceding Pot Stills, except a reflux tower is attached on top of the pot in place of the simple tube.
Note: The water drain tubing in this set-up must be about half again larger than the water input tubing.
Blow-up of Reflux Tower
Note: Using a packed column without the Reflux Condenser or a column alone without either packing or Reflux Condenser will yield a higher proof first run than the simple pot still
In fractional distillation the point is to achieve the closest possible contact between rising vapour and descending condensed liquid within the reflux column, and thus permit only the most volatile vapour to continue through to the after condenser while returning the less volatile vapour as a liquid toward the pot. The purification of the more volatile vapour by such counter-current streams of vapour and liquid is known as rectification and the descending liquid is known as reflux; hence the name reflux column. This system may yield a first run of about 170 to 180 proof, double that of the first run of the simple pot still.
The efficiency of the reflux system depends upon the length and diameter of the reflux column. A column of about 6" high and 3" across may require two runs; whereas a column 18" high and 4" across may require only one run to produce 170 to 180 proof alcohol. Heat control is accurate because of the controlled water flow through the reflux condenser in the top of the column. Also, you can control the temperature by raising or reducing the heat source, as in the simple pot still, but it is not so critical.
Keep the top temperature of the column between 172 and 176 deg. F. (77.2 - 80degC) for optimum results. One run should be sufficient, and yield pure spirits, but if yeast flavour or odour is present, run the distillate a second time at the same temperature range. Two runs are advisable unless you have a very efficient reflux column.
The Sneaky Home Still, invented out of necessity, is a compact system which yields an acceptable product in one run, is mechanically simple, and can be stored in a dresser drawer. A 550 watt soldering iron is fitted with copper tubing of various lengths and diameters and during a constant flow process may produce between 90 and 115 proof alcohol depending on the temperature at which it is operated. The adjustment of flow rate is most important in this system because it regulates the operating temperature. An operating temperature of 195 deg. F. (90degC) appears optimum and should yield about 4 quarts of 100 proof alcohol from 5 gallons of mash. The running time varies between 4 to 6 hours. A lower temperature of 193 deg. F. will yield less alcohol but at a higher proof, about 115, and consequently more pure. After the unit is initially filled so overflow begins, pinch off the flow until an initial rise in temperature is indicated, then begin adjustment of flow rate. Overflow is a slow drip.
An earlier version of this booklet suggested 170 through 180 deg. F. (76.7 - 82.2degC) for this run.
NOTE: Here are the formulae to convert Fahrenheit and Centigrade temperatures:
Cleaning the Still
7 - SAFETY FACTORS DURING DISTILLATION
Recognize the fact that when distilling alcohol we might just as well be distilling gasoline! From a fire and explosion hazard point of view, alcohol is almost as dangerous as gasoline and what nut would cook gasoline on his stove? The mash is not flammable; however, the first and successive run distillates certainly are. The flash points or the temperatures above, which alcohols will ignite and below which they will not ignite, are:
51 deg. F. for 100% or 200 proof ethyl alcohol (pure)
57 deg. F. for 95% or 190 proof ethyl alcohol (uncut)
78 deg. F. for 45% or 90 proof ethyl alcohol (Bourbon)
When you are distilling the temperatures of the alcohol will be well above these flash point temperatures, so be careful! Memorise the following Common Sense rules:
8 - FLAVORING AND MAKING LIQUORS
If you have the opportunity to study the commercial methods of flavoring and coloring liquors, you will be startled at the simplicity of the process and the similarity to what you will do to make your own. Any desired fruit, herb, wood, seed, or its extracted essence is steeped or added to the fermenting mash, or to the alcohol after distillation. Not only flavor, but especially color is created with various additives.
Aging whiskey in wood barrels, for example, imparts the characteristic golden brown color as well as improving the character of the liquor. Rum derives its golden hues from the addition of caramel. Creme de Menthe is green because vegetable coloring has been added.
When spirits are distilled out at 170 proof or better, it would be hard for any but the experienced distillers to differentiate among the distillates of grain, fruit, or can; it is said the alcohol is without "character". As we stated before, when the spirit is distilled out at a lower proof, 160 or less, it contains more by-products, and has more "character". Such a spirit, upon ageing in wood, undergoes changes which develop its flavour and character. Once it is placed in glass and sealed against the air, no more change will take place. But as long as it is in wood, there is constant change, brought about by the oxidizing effect of the air on the alcohol through the pores of the wood. However, it stands to reason that alcohol in a partly filled bottle is in contact with air and evaporation and oxidation will continue there, as well as in wood. The oxidation causes the esters and acids to increase materially, the aldehydes slowly, the fusel oils to remain the same, and a certain loss of alcohol to take place. The spirit will absorb some tannin and other coloring material from the wood, and become less harsh, and in a sense, a bit sweeter than it was originally.
You can do the same thing by adding an amount of selected wood chips to your own spirits and letting it age in a partly filled bottle.
The recipes listed in Appendix E are practical and proven. With imagination and experimentation you will discover how to make any liquor you wish. Remember, proof strength is as much a part of certain liquor as is its color and flavor, hence check the proof of the real liquor and check appendices B, C, and D on strength of alcoholic beverages when you make your own.
Probably the best source to buy supplies to prepare liquors is from your local grocery store. Most sophisticated items, such as specific flavorings, barrels, wood chips, recipes, etc., can be obtained by writing to:
P. Fioretti & Co. 1470 Lexington Ave, New York, NY 10028TOP >>
Appendix A: - Alcoholic Beverage Chart
Compounded Liqueurs and Cordials
Appendix B: - Strength and Source of Fermented Alcoholic Beverages
Wines (fermented juices of various fruits, notable grapes) 14% or less
Sparkling Wines (Effervescent) 14% or less
Fortified Wines (Brandy added) 16% to 23%
Aromatized Wines (Brandy added) 15% to 20%
Other Wines 2% to 8%
Beers 1.2% to16%
Appendix C: - Strength and Source of Distilled Alcoholic Beverages
Whiskies2 (distilled at 160 proof from fermented 80 to 110 (40 to 55) mash of various cereal grains)
Blended Whiskies (Any straight whiskey 50% blended with neutral spirits; or blended with another straight whiskey)
Vodkas (distilled at 150º proof from fermented 90º to 115º (45% to 57%) mash or wheat and a little malt, it is not flavored, nor aged; white, dry)
Gins (distilled at 190º proof from cereal grains, 86º (43%) mostly corn, sweetened or not, flavored with juniper berries, almonds, cardamom, coriander or licorice; never aged)
2Note: 'Bottled in Bond' is not a type of whiskey or a guarantee of quality. It is a tax device to allow a distiller to bottle straight whiskey (provided it is 4 years old) without paying Federal Tax. He must pay the Federal Tax immediately upon removing the whiskey from the bonded warehouse for sale.TOP >>
Appendix D: - Strength and Source of Compounded Alcoholic Beverages
Rums (distilled at 160 proof from fermented sugar 86º to 158º (43% to 79%) cane molasses, colored with caramel, flavored with cognac and fruit)
Liqueurs and Cordials (various fruits steeped in 36º to 110º (18% to 55%) brandy [infusion] which may or may not be redistilled; or neutral spirits, sweetened, then flavored with extracts of fruits, herbs, or spices, artificially colored)
Bitters (neutral spirits infused or redistilled with plants, seeds, barks, roots, and fruits) 80º (40%) or less
Appendix E: - Recipes
Units of Measure
1 ounce = 2 tablespoons
Basic Mash (for distilling neutral spirits)
Any Grain Alcohol (using Fioretti Flavors)
Any Cordial or Liqueur (using Fioretti Flavors)
Creme de Menthe
Creme de Cacao
Creme de Cafe (Kahlua)
Red Wine, Dry or Sweet
Let stand 10 to 14 days in subdued light, or until fermentation stops. Fermentation will be recognized by bubbling or effervescence as in a carbonated drink. Usual room temperature (78 deg. F.) is recommended. Stir or shake once or twice during fermentation.
General Instructions for Wine
In the following recipes, all given quantities can be reduced or increased in proportion.
Orange Wine #1
Orange Wine #2
Raspberry or Strawberry
Dry White Wine
26 of March
FURTHER READINGWINE MAKING GUIDES
BEER BREWING GUIDES
White Lightning (An alternative to the 'Blue Flame') alcohol distillation