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.
There are two modes presented to the operator for giving a body, age, and a mucilaginous, oily appear ance to liquors, - the first process consisting in charging the fluid with a given amount per gallon of saccharine matter. The application of this process will not answer where the manufacture of low proof or low priced liquors is contemplated, as it would incur an additional expense varying from twelve to twenty-five per cent. The second process consists in charging the liquid with starch by filtration. This process is fully detailed in another chapter on that subject; and it will be, seen that the same ends can be attained by the latter process that are by the former, and at a comparatively trifling cost. To give to neutral spirits the attributes of a fine distilled and aged liquor would be to apply the principles of both processes, viz. to subject it to the starch filtration, and to charge the spirit with a small per centage of honey or sugar.
The honey has a decided preference, owing to its peculiar, though feebly aromatic taste, which is followed by a slight prickling or sense of acrimony in the throat. It is better adapted to the manufacture of wines, fine gin, brandies, champagne, cordials, etc., etc.
In some instances, the honey may need clarification; for which, full instructions will be found under the head of "Clarifying Honey." When used, either the honey or sugar should be dissolved in perfectly clean, clear water, for if either should contain any filthy impurities they will, in a proportionate degree, render the fluid containing them muddy; and, for this reason, molasses should never be used, not even in the most minute quantities. Neither is molasses suited for coloring when burned; this is owing to the excessive amount of caramel or burnt sugar that the molasses contains - this caramel being the obvious effects of evaporating the cane juice from direct heat.
The filtering process presents innumerable advantages in preparing low proof or cheap liquors, as the fixtures necessary are remarkable for their simplicity; and the filtration, if properly managed, will give to the spirit a luscious taste and a fine bead. The only difficulty to guard against is to prevent the color of the liquor becoming heavy. This is derived from the husks of bran that the wheaten flour contains. For this reason, rice flour is extensively used, though inferior to wheat. The heaviness alluded to above will, in the course of time, subside.
One part of wheaten flour to six of rice flour, and three parts of whole grains of rice thoroughly mixed, will be found the most expeditious formula for packing filtering stands.
The clarification is only necessary when the honey is intended for bright, transparent champagne, gin, etc. Gently heating the honey, and straining through muslin, will generally remove the impurities; or mix six eggs with two gallons of water, and add the water to ten gallons of honey; mix well, thin, and apply heat, but do not bring it to the boiling point; then skim, and if necessary, strain.
Heat renders honey perfectly fluid, so that the wax and other light impurities which it contains, rise to the surface, and may be skimmed off, while the hea vier substances, which may have been accidentally or fraudulently added, such as sand or other earth, sink to the bottom.
French Method of Clarifying Honey. - Take of honey 3,000 parts, water 750 parts, carbonate of lime, powdered and washed, ninety-six parts; mix them in a suitable vessel, and boil for three minutes, stirring constantly, then add ninety-six parts of fresh burned bone black, in powder, and boil for a few minutes; lastly, add the whites of three eggs, beat up with 500 parts of water, and bring the liquid to the boiling point; withdraw the vessels from the fire, and after the mixture has cooled for fifteen minutes, strain through flannel, and repeat the straining until the liquid passes perfectly clear; should it not be of the proper consistence, it should be con centrated sufficiently by quick boiling. The use of the carbonate of lime is to saturate any acid in the honey which might favor the formation of glucose, and thus increase the tendency to granulation.
Second Process for Clarifying Honey. - Boil twenty-five pounds of honey, to which half the quantity of water has been added, with a pulp obtained by stirring three sheets of white blotting paper, with water, over a slow fire, till the pulp is reduced to minute fibres; when the mixture cools, put it into a woollen filtering bag, previously moistened, and allow the honey to pass. It comes away perfectly clear; the paper pulp may then be washed, and the dark wine-colored liquid subjected to a second process.
Honey clarified by the first process described, is as clear and colorless as syrup made with refined sugar, but still retains its flavor.