This section is from the book "The Manufacture Of Liquors, Wines, And Cordials, Without The Aid Of Distillation", by Pierre Lacour. Also available from Amazon: Manufacture of Liquors, Wines, and Cordials, Without the Aid of Distillation.
Is distilled from nitric acid and proof spirit, and is used by some manufacturers for giving a false strength to liquors. The proportions vary, say from six to twelve ounces to forty gallons of spirit. The excessive use of the sweet spirit of nitre in liquors, will cause an involuntary flow of urine from the consumer; probably there are but few instances in which the use of nitre would be necessary in managing liquor; some manufacturers use it in liquors that have become musty, and others use it under the impression that it adds a peculiar vinosity to the spirit.
These ends can be obtained by other articles that are more economical and less injurious to health; the articles in question consist of honey or sugar acid tincture of the grains of paradise, starch, etc.
In the extemporaneous preparation of liquors, nitre is preferable, as it needs no preparation. From two causes, the exact quantity of nitre necessary for a given quantity of spirit cannot be given. First, owing to the extensive adulterations that it is subject to, which are alcohol or water, and the second is owing to what apparent strength the liquor is to be brought to. The palate will be the most correct guide; it will be found that the use of the grains of paradise tincture will be the most economical for giving a false strength to low proof or cheap liquors, and that the tincture is less injurious than nitre.
The pure oil is of a pale yellow or greenish yellow color, with scarcely any smell, and a bland, slightly sweetish taste. This oil is largely adulterated with the cheaper oils; a mode to detect the pure oil, founded on the property possessed by the supernitrate of mercury, of solidifying the oil of olives without a similar influence upon other oils - six parts of mercury are dissolved at a low temperature in seven and a half parts of nitric acid, of the sp. gr. 1.35, and this solution is mixed with the suspected oil in the proportion of one part to twelve, the mixture being occasionally shaken. If the oil is pure it is converted, after some time, into a yellow solid mass; if it contains a minute proportion, even so small as the twentieth, of common oil, the resulting mass is much less firm. Another test is founded on the fact that pure olive oil is changed to a greenish yellow color by nitric acid. Olive oil is used in the manufacture of liquors for making the beading mix ture which is used for low proof spirits. See Beading Mixture.
Is sometimes added to the ethers to increase their pungency. When used for domestic or foreign brandies the proportion of oil is one drop to every ounce of ether. Ether is a solvent for any of the essential oils. Great care should be used in the use of this oil in liquors, as its odor would indicate its presence. In the manufacture of cordials, clove oil is one of the most valuable that is in use; the quantity to be used is generally regulated by the palate.