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.
For bars, hotels, wine-cellars, and private use, the following directions will insure a saving of from forty to two hundred and fifty per cent, per gallon; and the most critical examination will scarcely detect the imitation from the genuine, a chemical test alone being able to indicate the difference of the one from the other.
The consumer finds one strong inducement, aside from the economical production of this liquor, for its use, viz. he is familiar with its composition, which is not the case in relation to foreign liquors. Aside from the manufacturer, who can say whether the ends used to obtain that spirit were prejudicial to health or not ? It must be presumed that the incentive to exertion, on the part of the manufacturer, is founded on interest, and it would be but a reasonable conclusion that he will make use of articles in manufacturing liquors that are the most economical. His liquors are made for exportation, and thus he will never witness the thrusts and cuts that he gave in the dark: for the reader must not suppose that foreign liquors are always prepared from distillation. On the contrary, owing to the high character that they have attained, it has given the foreign manufacturer an extensive field for imitating and adulterating, and he does this with a confidence of favorable commercial results.
Neutral spirit is alcohol freed from the essential or grain oil by distillation or filtration through charcoal. This process is fully explained in another chapter of the work.
Some attention should be paid to the selection of the neutral spirit, to obtain it perfectly limpid, inodorous, and free of all tastes, except those peculiar to alcohol, viz. a biting, pungent taste, that soon becomes dissipated after swallowing the liquor. If, on the contrary, the spirit, after being drunk, should leave a slight stinging, burning, or sense of rough ness, either in the throat or mouth, it should be rejected as unsuited for the purposes of the following recipes.
Pure neutral spirit should evaporate from the hand without leaving any odor.
Neutral spirit usually comes in forty gallon barrels, and usually contains about fifteen to twenty per cent, more of alcohol than proof whiskey does, or say about sixty to sixty-five per cent, of alcohol. This spirit is perfectly clear and transparent, of a peculiar alcoholic taste, and sometimes it has a slight aromatic odor, recalling that of acetic ether or rum. The addition of aromatics is made to conceal the slight odor of grain oil that may exist; but the better to prevent deception, the nitrate of silver should be used to indicate the presence of grain oil, - for a really fine imitation of foreign liquors cannot be made with a spirit containing grain oil.
The use of nitrate of silver, for testing, is fully explained under the head of " Tests for the Purity of French Brandy."
Any acrimonious substances that the spirit might contain will be indicated by evaporating a quantity of the spirit to dryness, and the extract will indicate to the taste the pepper, pellitory, etc. The liquors under consideration, owing to their fine aroma and beautiful transparent color, are admirably adapted to the purpose of bottling; and, if intended for commerce, the manner in which they are put up should be characterized by neatness. The colors necessary for the following liquors are red, brown, and yellow.
The red is prepared from infusing cochineal, one ounce, in one and a half gallons of water, with three drachms of potash. The water should be allowed to boil for fifteen or twentv minutes, and then be kept near the fire for two hours; and then strain through muslin. The brown color is made from white, or clean brown sugar. (See Coloring.) The yellow is made from English saffron, thus: Take two ounces of saffron chopped fine, one quart of proof spirit, and digest for twenty-four hours, and strain.
The colors enumerated above are the finest in use.