Making Distilled Alcohols

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
All distilled alcohols are made in basically the same way.
  • Fruits, grains, or other sources of carbohydrates are fermented with yeasts to make a liquid with a moderate alcohol content, from 5 to 12% by volume.
  • This liquid is heated in a chamber that collects the alcohol- and aromarich vapors as they escape from the boiling liquid, and then passes them across cooler metal surfaces, where the vapors condense and are collected as a separate liquid.
  • The concentrated alcoholic liquid is then modified in various ways for consumption. It may be flavored with herbs or spices, or aged in wood barrels. The alcohol content is usually adjusted with the addition of water before it’s bottled for sale.