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.
The object of clarification is transparency. This all-important branch of this business is effected in various ways; first, by filtration through charcoal, sand, etc.; secondly, by the use of finings, such as eggs, isinglass, wheat flour, milk, alum, etc.; thirdly by straining, which separates the solids from the fluids.
Clarification by filtration is explained in the chapters on animal and vegetable charcoals, and the preparation and arrangement of filters.
Finings effect clarification of liquor's, by involving during coagulation, the particles that are floating in the liquid, and rising with them to the surface or subsiding.
Eggs possess this quality to the greatest extent, caused by the particles of albumen becoming more minutely divided. Eggs when used should be whisked to a froth, and used in the proportion of two to six per barrel of forty gallons. When the shell is used it should be finely powdered. Eggs are sometimes solidified by heat, by manufacturers, for future use.
Egg powder. - Take any number of eggs, and beat them to a froth, and dry them by a gentle heat or in the sun; they are then powdered, and one eighth of wheat flour is added, and made to a paste with water and dried in the form of cakes or balls. Egg powder is used in the same manner and for all the purposes of eggs.
Isingiass is a gelatinous substance, prepared from the sounds or swimming bladders of fishes. There are different varieties of isinglass; the best is book isinglass. One hundred grains of this article dis solve in ten ounces of water, forming a tremulous jelly when cold. That in cakes is brownish, and of an unpleasant odor, and is employed from its low price in the clarification of inferior liquors. The purest isinglass is whitish, semi-transparent, of a shining, pearly appearance, and destitute of smell or taste. The inferior kinds of isinglass are yellowish and opaque.
Isinglass is soluble in boiling water, acids, and alkalies, and is insoluble in alcohol: its watery solution putrifies. The proportions for its use are one to six ounces per one hundred gallons; it is beaten to shreds and dissolved in a pint of boiling water; when this is cold, it becomes a stiff jelly. Whisk this jelly to a froth in a sufficient quantity of the fluid intended for fining; then add it to the mass and stir the whole well for a few moments, and then bung; in twenty-four to sixty hours the particles will have subsided.
Milk, when used for fining, should be boiled a few minutes, and added while hot to the barrel, in the proportions of one pint to forty gallons.
Alum is used in the proportions of four to five ounces per hundred gallons. Being finely pulverized, alum is incompatible with the'"beading mixture." Liquors that contain starch, mucilage, etc. should not be "fined" with alum.
Wheat four is sometimes used in the form of paste with water - one pint per one hundred gallons.
Filtering Bags. - Take a square yard of Canton flannel, and cut it in two pieces (diagonally) from one corner to the other, and sew up the two edges, thus forming a triangle-shaped bag; then sew a hoop of suitable size in the mouth of the bag, and fix a suitable handle of rope or twine.
If all the coloring matter, and fluids used to impart coloring to liquors, was sufficiently strained and filtered, finings would be rarely, if ever, used; the hurried manner in which color makers manage their business, using inferior materials, and taking advantage of all the "tricks of trade" that may be suggested. Coloring derived from such a source as this must entail a vast deal of unnecessary labor and expense upon the manufacturer. The manufacturers of coloring should be provided with all kinds of filters, strainers, etc, to cleanse and purify their coloring of its own and foreign matter. As good color is one of the principal essentials of all good liquors, the manufacturer would find the coloring made under his supervision to be preferable to any other.
All colors, except brown, from sugar, should be filtered through a bed of white sand from six to fifteen inches in depth; this can be done in a keg or barrel; the cleaner and clearer the sugar the finer the color. Thus fine brown and loaf, or clarified sugar, which is used for coloring very choice bottled liquors, is the most exquisite brown we have. The objection to the burnt sugar found in commerce is, that it contains a large portion of minute particles of charcoal that would pass through the strainer, and can easily be detected with the naked eye, in liquors that have been colored by this article. This was the result of preparing the color from molasses, or filthy dark sugar.
Giving body, age, and a mucilaginous, oily appearance to wines and liquors. - The above desirable qualifications are imparted by filtration or digestion - the former plan being preferable. In the case of wines, only a small portion should be filtered, say one sixth of the whole, and this is to be added to the mass and allowed to stand for a few days; the simplicity of the operation will be apparent in the first attempt.
In operating in proof spirit, the process consists in rapidly filtering the mass through any substance that contains mucilage that is not precipitated by alcohol - viz. starch and gluten.
Wheat bran, as found in commerce, placed in a barrel filter to the depth of eight or ten inches, and the surface of the bran covered to the depth of one or two inches with slippery elm bark, and the filtration maintained with rapidity, yields a superior liquor, of a fine, dry taste. Liquor prepared by thi3 process, cannot be used for a great length of time; the difficulty of fining down, etc, has caused this plan to sink into disuse. Where a sufficient time is allowed for the color extracted from the husk to subside, no finer spirit can be produced, when we keep in view the economical and simple plan used for attaining such desirable ends. - The most common process is filtration through oatmeal and rice - in some instances the mixture is favored with a small portion of wheaten flour; in-all large manufactories, the spirit runs from the charcoal through the rice filters. These filters are made to suit convenience. A common barrel, etc., will answer every purpose, and is made in every respect that the charcoal filters were; the first layer at the bottom is of sand, varying in depth from four to twelve inches. This sand rests on a perforated bottom, a few inches above the main bottom, and is covered with a blanket - that is to say, the sand has a blanket at the top of it and another beneath it, and next comes a bed of oatmeal or rice flour, with a proportion of one tenth of the whole added in wheaten flour - either the oatmeal or the rice flour are embedded to the depth of from twelve to fifteen inches. "Where the rice flour is used, chopped straw should be used in layers alternately with the flour - otherwise, the flour would become one impenetrable mass, by the addition of fluid. The durability of either oatmeal or rice flour in filtering, can only be obtained by close observation, and ascertaining when the starch is being near exhausted.
The use of chopped straw in layers, greatly facilitates the filtration of fluids through glutinous masses. Some operators run the spirit through one bed of ground rice or oatmeal, and one of whole rice to the depth of twelve to twenty inches - and then through the usual depth of sand. The different plans are offered to the operator rather with the view of furnishing all information that might be at all desirable; not that any formula has any decided advantage over the other, but that plan that appears the most convenient, from circumstances, may be adopted.
All the different formulas in this work are in practical operation in different parts of the country; and yet the proprietors would not be able to give an opinion, what advantages his recipe possessed over any other, or why so many different modes were adopted to obtain the same results. The choice is often the result of circumstances, and from long usage a formula becomes almost sacred with some operatives.
It will be noticed that this plan of filtering is remarkable for its economy and simplicity, and the general directions for the novice are few and simple. Keep the filtering substancecs from lying too compact by a few layers of chopped straw, and also apply the straw in any instance where the filtration progresses slowly, or appears choked. All substances to be acted upon by filtration should be separated from each other by suitable and secure coverings of close-grained fabrics. Blankets are generally preferred, owing to the long nap, which becomes entangled and prevents the escape of the particles.
Slippery Elm stands deservedly high with manufacturers on the continent. It yields a mucilage that combines freely with alcohol, and enters into many extemporaneous receipts. The decoction is prepared by boiling in water, and is used to give the appearance of age to liquors, It is the most serviceable, however, used by infusing it in the spirit, or placing the bark over the surface, or mixing through in the place of straw, to allow the filtration to progress freely through the filters.
Sugar, Honey, Syrup, etc. are all used for the purposes of giving body, age, and other desirable qualities to wines and liquors, and have been noticed under their appropriate heads.