OF ALCOHOL A Professional Guide for Amateur Distillers
John Stone & Michael Nixon
Making pure ethyl alcohol at home could be a satisfying and profitable hobby for those who live in countries where it is legal to do so. Do-it-yourself types who currently enjoy making beer or wine would find it particularly interesting because it is a logical extension of both these activities. There is the same fermentation stage where sugar is turned into alcohol, but instead of drinking the brew we subject it to a very rigorous purification process. This process is fractional distillation, a scientific procedure which can be guaranteed to produce a perfect product every time --- a crystal clear alcohol of almost pharmaceutical quality.
The pure alcohol is then diluted with water to 40% and used as such (vodka), or flavoured with exotic herbs such as juniper berries, cardamom, orris root, coriander and other botanicals to give London Dry Gin. Or fruit is steeped in the alcohol to make a delicious after-dinner liqueur.
This is not a hobby for everyone, but what hobby is? In the first place you would only wish to become involved if you particularly liked the beverages which are made from gin and vodka, e.g. a martini, a gin-and-tonic, a Bloody Mary, or a liqueur. Secondly, you should enjoy the challenge of constructing a scientific apparatus which involves a little plumbing and a little electrical work.
The satisfactions you receive will include the knowledge that you have made something which is exceptionally pure, so pure in fact that no headaches or hangovers will ever result from drinking it. And finally there will be the pleasure derived from making a beverage which is less than one-tenth the cost of the commercial product.
Copies of the previous book in this series* were sent for comment to the Customs & Excise Branch of Revenue Canada in Ottawa and to the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) in the United States. Both authorities agreed that it is not illegal to sell or purchase a book which deals with amateur distillation but that it is illegal to actually engage in it without a license. No doubt many other countries around the world would react similarly.
The reasoning behind this law remains obscure. Distillation is simply a purification process which not only doesn't make alcohol but is incapable of making it. Alcohol is made by fermentation, not by distillation, so it might be expected that fermentation would be the process subject to control. This is not so however — amateur beer- and wine-makers are free to make as much alcohol as they wish for their own use. It is abundantly clear, therefore, that the law is based upon a completely false premise.
Individuals in New Zealand, Italy and several other countries already enjoy the freedom to distil alcohol at home for their own use. It is hoped that the publication of this book will eventually make it possible for amateurs in all countries to make their own vodka, gin and other spirits in the same manner that they now make beer and wine.
* Footnote: "Making Gin & Vodka" by John Stone. Published in 1997 by Saguenay International.
Published in New Zealand in February 2000 by:
Saguenay International PO Box 51-231 Pakuranga Auckland 1706 New Zealand
Copyright February, 2000 by John Stone & Michael Nixon
All rights reserved. No part of this publication, printed or electronic, may be reproduced or transmitted to a third party in any form or by any means without the prior written permission of the authors.
Contacts: In Canada
John Stone E-mail [email protected] Tel: +1-450-451-0644 Fax: +1-450-451-7699
In New Zealand
Michael Nixon E-mail [email protected] Tel: +64-9-577-4103 Fax: +64-9-577-4103
Was this article helpful?
Discover How To Become Your Own Brew Master, With Brew Your Own Beer. It takes more than a recipe to make a great beer. Just using the right ingredients doesn't mean your beer will taste like it was meant to. Most of the time it’s the way a beer is made and served that makes it either an exceptional beer or one that gets dumped into the nearest flower pot.