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.
Perfectly transparent liquors can never be obtained with indifferently prepared coloring. Standing first on the list, is brown or brandy coloring (carmel), or burnt sugar. This color is too often prepared from indifferent articles, viz. molasses and filthy sugar, and burnt to suit the convenience of the operator, rather than a standard rule; and when prepared in this manner, the best adapted strainers ever invented would not effectually remove the charcoal (from being over burnt), and other dissolved filthy impurities that are to be found in the scrapings of refineries, sugar-houses, etc. This is the material that the color-maker uses. Molasses, in no instance, should be used in the manufacture of coloring. Clean and fair brown sugar will yield a rich and transparent brown, of great depth and beauty.
The prudent rectifier will never make use of any kind of fluid coloring, without it is perfectly trans parent, from filtering and straining. This plan of throwing the ingredients together promiscuously, and relying on finings for transparency, is but a poor one. To the uninitiated, relative to burning coloring, I might say that one hour and a half will suffice, over a brisk fire, to any given quantity of sugar. When sufficiently burned, may be known by the effervescence ceasing. At this point, you should dash in the same quantity of water that there was of sugar; the water disolves the mass and prevents incrustation, and the heat should be discontinued.
The Preparation of Liquor Coloring. - Red Sanders Wood comes in round or angular sticks, internally of a blood red color, and externally brown from exposure to the air; compact and heavy, of a fibrous texture; it is kept in the shops in the state of small chips, raspings, or coarse powder. It has but little smell or taste, and imparts a red color to alcohol, ether, and alkaline solutions, but not to water. Coloring is obtained from sanders wood, in the proportion of one pound of the wood to one gallon of proof spirit, and allowed to stand for twenty-four hours, and then drawn off and filtered through sand, to the depth of twelve to fourteen inches, or fined with boiled milk. The sanders wood should be subjected to the action of the spirit as long as it continues to yield any color.
Gamboge. - The best gamboge is in cylindrical rolls from one to three inches in diameter, sometimes hollow in the centre, or flattened, or folded double, or agglutinated in masses, in which the original form is not always distinguishable. They are externally of a dull orange color, which is occasionally displaced by greenish stains. In this form, it is sometimes called pipe gamboge. Another variety is imported under the name of cake or lump gamboge; it is in irregular masses, weighing two or three pounds or more. This latter variety only differs from the former, in the greater amount of impurities contained. The inferior kinds of gamboge may be known by their greater hardness and coarser fracture, by the brownish or greyish color of their broken surface, which is often marked with black spots, and by their obvious impurities.
Gamboge, in its pure form, is brittle, with a smooth, shining fracture; the color of the mass, when broken, is a uniform reddish orange, which becomes a beautiful bright yellow when powdered, or when the surface is rubbed with water. From the brilliancy of its color, it is highly esteemed - it has no smell and little taste - it produces after remaining in the mouth a short time, an acrid sensation. So intense is its coloring principle, that one part communicates a perceptible yellowness to ten thousand parts of water or spirit.
Yellow is prepared from gamboge, in the proportion of eight ounces to the gallon of spirit, allowed to stand twelve hours, and the clearest portion of the fluid drawn off and strained through a fine flannel bag, and the gamboge remaining is treated to spirit until the coloring is completely extracted.
Brown from Alkanet Root. - The root comes to us in pieces three or four inches long, from the thickness of a quill to that of the little finger; somewhat twisted, consisting of a dark red, easily separable bark; it is usually much decayed internally, very light, and of loose, almost spongy, texture. The fresh root has a faint odor and a bitter astringent taste, but when dried, it is nearly inodorous and insipid. Its coloring principle is soluble in alcohol or ether, but is insoluble in water.
The tincture of alkanet has its color deepened by acids, and changed to blue by alkalies, and again restored by neutralizing the latter substances.
Alkanet is prepared by crushing the root, and adding one pound to a gallon of alcohol, standing twenty-four hours, decanting, and fine with boiled milk; depth of color and transparency are objects sought for, and the finings should be continued until the tincture is bright. If depth of color is sought, add sulphuric acid, drop by drop, until the desired warmth is attained. As in all other instances, the remaining root should be subjected to the action of alcohol as long as the root yields any color.
This color is used for port wine particularly, also for wines and cordials either singly or combined, forming compound colors.
Logwood yields a color well adapted for a certain class of wines, and is very extensively used; it yields its color to water or alcohol, but in greater quantities to boiling water.
Red beets will produce a fine red color, by mashing or cutting into slices and infusing into the liquid that is to be colored.
When they are to be used for coloring fermented liquors, viz. champagne, wines, etc, the beets should be added before fermentation has begun, that is, while these liquors are being formed by fermentation.
Blue. - The best blue is prepared from indigo; other blues have been proposed and used with but
Little success, the objections to them are a want of body and brilliancy. The action of light, and probably some principle that the liquor contains, may be incompatible with the color. These, or some unexplained causes, tend to the decomposition of the color, and hence the dull, cloudy, and faded color of some brands of cordials, etc.
Indigo is insoluble in alcohol or water. It is of an intensely blue color, but assumes a coppery or bronze hue when rubbed by a smooth, hard body, as the finger nail. The solution of indigo is known as chemic blue, and is prepared thus : -
To eight ounces of oil of vitriol, in a glass or earthen vessel placed in cold water, add gradually one ounce of pure indigo in powder, stirring the mixture at each addition with a glass rod; cover the vessel for twenty-four hours, then dilute with an equal weight of water. Instances may occur, where the acid would be objectionable in the above solution. Carbonate of potash, soda, or ammonia, if added, will neutralize the acid. This, if prepared with clear water, will need no farther preparation as it is beautifully transparent.
Indigo is used for coloring cordials the different shades of blue, also with gamboge in solution, for forming green, and with a solution of red sanders wood or cochineal for forming a purple color.
Rose Pink, etc., is prepared from cochineal. Cochineal has a faint, heavy odor, and a bitter, slightly acidulous taste; its powder is of a purplish carmine color, tinging the saliva intensely red. Cochineal is soluble in water and alcohol, and more so in boiling alcohol. From this formula, the operator can produce any desired shade, from the lightest pink to the deepest carmine.
Boil one ounce each of cochineal and salt of tartar in a quart of water for twenty five or thirty minutes, then add one ounce cream of tartar and the same of alum; this is intended for bottled cordials, etc. Where it is desirous to color by the barrel, pipe, or hogshead, the cochineal may be inclosed in muslin and thrown into the cask. Two ounces of cochineal will color a hogshead a very fine pink; of course the quantity can be increased or diminished to produce the desired shade. The tints formed by cochineal, in combination with any other color, will have more brilliancy than any other colors used, viz. in orange, gold, purple, fawn, salmon, etc, etc.