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.
A popular error of the day has it that the above-mentioned articles are used in the manufacture of liquors for giving an artificial strength, etc, etc.
An examination of the properties of the articles in question will exhibit to what slight grounds popular opinion is attached to for its expressions of opinions on the subject.
The quantity of this article necessary to give a strong and cutting taste to the throat would be de-tected instantly by the palate. It should be recollected that it i only a few grains that are required for an emetic: but assuming that the tobacco was only added in minute quantities, that the palate alone would be able to distinguish a slight acridness, nausea must ensue. The acridness belonging to tobacco differs materially from the peculiar acridness that belongs to alcohol; and whence arises the necessity of using an ingredient that is in every form incompatible with the interests of the dealer, and that, too, in view of numerous articles that are in every manner better suited to the purpose, and articles, too, in their action on the palate that are analogous to alcohol.
Is manufactured from potash and lime, and possesses the quality of combining with alcohol. Its action on animal matter is that of a powerful caustic, quickly destroying the parts that it is applied to; and hence the supposition that caustic potassa would produce a biting and stinging sensation in and on the throat and palate when held in solution by alcohol.
Upon testing this experiment it will be found that the spirit containing potassa is nothing more than a miserable tasted alkalized liquor; the potassa, when added in minute quantities, is not perceptible to the taste; and if a spirit contained a vinous taste this alkali would destroy it, owing to the vinosity origi nating in an acid.
The insurmountable objection to the use of red pepper is that every person is familiar with its properties (its effects on the mouth and throat); and if added in the most minute portions, it will be perceptible in the throat and palate for several minutes after the spirit has been drunk.
As to the use of acids in liquors, they do not add strength to liquor - they only yield vinosity; and the excessive use of an acid will produce an acidulated spirit unsuited to any purpose.