The Distilling Process

Appears in
On Food and Cooking

By Harold McGee

Published 2004

  • About
The essential principle of distillation is a simple one: both alcohol and aromatic substances are more volatile in water than water itself, so they evaporate in disproportionate amounts from wine and beer and become concentrated in the vapor. But it’s not a simple matter to make a delicious distilled alcohol, or even a drinkable one. Yeast fermentation produces thousands of volatile substances, and not all of them are desirable. Some are unpleasant, and others, notably methanol, are dangerously toxic.