DISTILLING SPIRITS BOOK How to Make Alcohol Distillation at Home
Bettina Malle and Helge Schmickl graduated from the Vienna University of Technology in 1991 with a master of science in chemical engineering and received doctorates in technical sciences in 1993. Each earned a bachelor of business administration degree from the Graduate School of Business Administration Zurich while designing, engineering, and commissioning industrial plants and managing research and development projects. Thereafter they worked as technical and business consultants until 1998.
Malle and Schmickl believe it should be possible for everyone to produce exquisite spirits with fruit and herbs right from the garden. In 1998, they developed their first still, designed to maximize the flavor of alcoholic distillates. That same year, they launched their first webpage and online store and began to host small-scale distilling workshops. They published the results and conclusions of their experiments as well as detailed instructions and many recipes for crafting distilled spirits in their 2003 book Schnapsbrennen als Hobby (The Artisan’s Guide to Crafting Distilled Spirits). It became the standard reference book for home distillers in German-spoken countries and is now in its eleventh Edition.
In the meantime they designed and constructed an optimized still for producing essential oils and hydrosols on a small scale. Due to its special designed condenser and adapted shape, the still makes it possible to obtain plenty of oil and intense hydrosols with only small amounts of base material. The two have hosted essential oil workshops and an online store since 2002 and published the reference book Ätherische Öle selbst herstellen (The Essential Oils Maker’s Handbook) in 2005. The book is now in its sixth edition, and Malle and Schmickl’s still is the preferred device among small-scale users in the fields of phyto-aromatherapy and herbology throughout the German-speaking region. It is widely used in many other courses, workshops, and seminaries as well as in research institutes, universities, colleges, and other educational Services.
In 2008 Schmickl and Malle engineered and constructed a small-scale, modified vinegar generator that is a fixed-bed reactor with immobilized vinegar bacteria. The construction enables the use of miscellaneous packing materials, especially fruit, herbs, and spices, to improve or change the taste of the resulting vinegar. Additionally they developed a method to analyze the residual alcohol content in vinegar, which is simple, cheap, and accurate enough to determine a concentration of 0.1 percent. Their book Essig herstellen als Hobby (The Artisanal Vinegar Maker’s Handbook) was published in 2010, they have hosted vinegar workshops and their vinegar webpage with online store since 2011.
Bettina and Helge have been married since 2002. That same year they moved to Klagenfurt, Carinthia (Austria), where they host their seminars and conduct research and developments in fermenting and distilling. They have two children.
Small-Scale Production of Brandies, Schnapps & Liquors: The art of crafting alcohol is a very ancient one, and small, artisan distilleries are growing in popularity every day. Expert Austrian distillers Helge Schmickl and Bettina Malle guide readers through the process of creating or purchasing their own still and provide detailed instructions from personal experience on mash creation, fermentation, distillation, and infusion using a variety of ingredients. Schmickl and Malle also introduce readers to the tradition of schnapps distillation and present a brief look at domestic and international brweing cultures.
The authors cover in detail which distillation techniques excel, which merely succeed, and which should be avoided at all costs in their discussion of
- Necessary equipment
- Possible ingredients
- Mash fermentation
- How to begin distillation
- Alcohol regulations
With ninety recipes - from classic fruit brandy to chili infusions - this book is not only for the curious beginner. Even experienced distillers will discover new approaches to this classic practice.Table of contents:
Preface to the English-Language Edition
The Foundations and Traditions of Distilling
Schnapps, spirituous beverages, distillates
How is alcohol formed?
A side trip into chemistry
The fermentation process: Water & sugar; Flavors & aromas; Vitamins, trace elements; Solid, ligneous components
- Which fruits can be used to make the mash?
- Preparing the fruit
- Fermentation container
- Adding water
Fruit pulp without additional ingredients: Simple mashes
Adding cultured yeast: Mashes with cultured yeast
Checking the pH value: Measuring the pH value, Correcting the pH value
- Alcohol content of conventional mashes
High-grade mashes with added sugar
What are the advantages of a high-grade mash?, Turbo yeast, Preparing a high-grade mash
Checking the progress of the fermentation
What should you check, and how often?, Daily check, Regular stirring, Weekly measurements, Fermentation logs, When is the fermentation complete?, The optimal time for distilling
Problems during fermentation
No alcohol has formed in the mash yet, Alcohol has already formed in the mash
- Filtering the mash
- Storing the mash
- Making a mash from grains, corn, or potatoes (starchy products)
- How is alcohol formed?
- Principles of construction
Some key points
Materials; Kettle; Heating and jacketed kettles; Column, lyne arm, and measuring the temperature; Cooling
Different types of stills
Pot stills, Reflux stills, Combination stills, Large stills (pot still and reflux)
Using the still
Filling; Receiver, container for the distillate; Emptying and cleaning
Relative proportions of the three parts
Single or double distillation?
Calculating the amount when mixing a low-percentage alcohol with a high-percentage alcohol
Diluting to a drinkable strength
Determining the alcohol content, Calculating the amount of water needed for dilution, Cloudiness
- Treatment with activated carbon, taste-neutral alcohol
- Excellent mash, excellent schnapps
Agave (mescal, tequila), Apples (obstler, cider, calvados), Apricots, Bananas, Beer brandy (bierbrand), Blackberries, Bullaces (Kriechenbrand), Chequers, Cherries, Currants (red and black), Damsons, Elderberries, Elderflowers, Gentian, Grains (whiskey), Grapes (cognac, wine brandy), Grapes (grappa, pomace brandy), Jerusalem artichokes, Juniper berries (Borovička), Mangos, Maple syrup, Mead, Medlars, Nectarines, Nuts, Peaches, Pears, Pineapples, Plums (vieille prune), Potatoes (vodka), Prune plum (slivovitz, Zwetschenbrand), Quinces, Raspberries, Rhubarb, Rice (sake), Rose hips, Rowanberries (Vogelbeerbrand), Sloes, Strawberries, Sugarcane (rum), Sweet potatoes
Filtering the mash, Pressing the solid components, Extracting the fruit wine, Storage
Recipe for tasteless alcohol, Infusions – preparation
Absinthe, Blackberries, Blueberries, Cherries, Chili peppers, Coffee, Currants (red and black), Elderflowers, Gentian, Hazelnuts, Herbs, Hops, Lemons, Limes, Morels, Mushrooms, Nuts, Oranges, Raspberries, Rose hips, Sloes, Snowy mespilus (or juneberry), Spruce shoots, Strawberries, Swiss pine (Zirbengeist), Wormwood (absinthe, "the green fairy")
- The principles of spirit production
- Base materials
Absinthe, Anise (ouzo, raki, Pernod, sambuca), Apples, Aquavit, Bananas, Barberries, Caraway (aquavit), Cherries, Christmas spirit, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cocoa (chocolate), Coffee, Elderflowers, Fennel, Gentian, Ginger, Grains, Hazelnuts, Herbs, Juniper berries (jenever, gin), Lemons, Lemongrass, Limes (daiquiri, mojito), Mint (peppermint), Nutmeg, Orange (Cointreau), Ramson, Raspberries, Rue (grappa di rutta), Spruce shoots, Swiss pine, Wormwood (Swiss absinthe)
- Comparison of the three distillation methods presented in this book
- Essential Oils
Bottling and labeling
Glass bottles; Cork stoppers, metal screw tops; Heatshrinkable caps; Labels
- Checking the taste and quality
- Other countries, other customs
- Bottling and labeling
Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Spirit productions and distilling infusions, The United States
- Frequently Asked Questions Harvest Calendar
Preface to the First Edition