Author Archives: CraftedSpirits

Liqueur

Licores

¿Qué es un licor?

El rango que abarcan los licores es enorme; muchas empresas producen una muy amplia gama de marcas y cada país tiene diversos productos nacionales derivados de la materia prima que puede encontrarse en cada país. Por otra parte, existen varias clasificaciones de licor como puede ser intensidad, contenido de azúcar, origen (fruta, semillas o hierbas), color (Con color o sin color), apariencia (cristalino o turbio), proceso de manufacturación (macerado o mezcla), etc. Es también importante saber diferenciar productos similares, por ejemplo, ‘Crema’ o ‘Crème’. 

Licor de Crema

Los licores de crema son licores espesos hechos de crema, leche u otro lácteo y su intensidad suele ser suave en comparación con otros licores. Debido a su composición, su tiempo de guarda suele ser menor que otros licores y una vez  abiertos es necesario guardarlos en la nevera. 

Crème liqueur

‘Crème’ (se pronuncia ‘Krem’) es un término que se pone al lado de una fruta o producto vegetal específico y se reserva para licores con un contenido mínimo de azúcar de 250 g/litro. Estos licores contienen suficiente azúcar para crear una textura cremosa y espesa pero no contienen lácteos. 

Según la normativa europea, aquellos licores que especifiquen el contenido de alguna fruta o producto vegetal deben contener al menos 90% de dicho producto y tiene que estar fabricado con 100% productos naturales. Si el término ‘natural’ no se especifica en la etiqueta, pueden utilizarse saborizantes artificiales. Sin embargo, la normativa en EE.UU. permite el término sabores naturales ‘potenciados’, permitiendo contener 0,01% de saborizantes artificiales. Cada país tiene regulaciones específicas, por ejemplo en España los ‘Licores de Zumo’ debe contener al menos 20% de zumo natural de la fruta citada. 

Alcopops

Los ‘chupitos de gel’ o ‘alcopops’ han surgido en el mercado en los últimos años. Dichos licores tienen textura en gel y una base sin alcohol mezclada con hidrocoloides (grenetina o gelatina) a alta temperatura para después ser mezclado vigorosamente con agua y alcohol hasta producir un gel sólido. Este gel es estable a temperatura ambiente y puede ser consumido directamente o como relleno en chocolates, obleas u otro alimento. El sabor y textura del producto gelificado depende de la composición de las bebidas alcohólicas y agentes gelificadores utilizados. 

Los ‘Alcopops’ son licores, casi siempre de frutas, de bajo contenido alcohólico cuyo mercado es principalmente la gente joven. 

Composición

Dependiendo de las características de ciertos licores y sus denominaciones de calidad, algunos licores están protegidos por denominaciones específicas de calidad similares a aquellas de whiskies, brandies o ginebras. La más común, especialmente en Europa, es Designación de origen protegida, PDO por sus siglas en inglés. 

Sin embargo, los licores no son estáticos, su composición y características no son constantes. Sus componentes menores, especialmente pigmentos y saborizantes, experimentan muchos cambios, no sólo durante la manufactura sino en el almacenaje. Son principalmente reacciones de degradación catalizadas por medios acuosos acídicos, temperaturas altas y luz (radiación UV). 

Dichos cambios hacen difícil determinar la autenticidad de estos productos, por lo que en en los últimos diez años se han publicado muchas investigaciones de cómo determinar estos parámetros de autentificación. Los estudios de isómeros e isótopos resultan muy útiles porque su presencia y cantidad relativa en componentes naturales y sintéticos suele ser diferente.  

Los compuestos fenólicos y otros pigmentos como los carotenoides también se han evaluado como parámetros característicos de los licores naturales.

Si estás interesado en desarrollar un licor,  Contacta con Nosotros. 

Liqueur

Liqueurs

What is a liqueur?

The range of liqueurs is enormous; many companies produce a wide range of brands, and different countries produce different national products, probably because of the different raw materials found in different countries. Thus, there are different possibilities to classify liqueurs, such as by strength, sugar content, origin (fruit, beans, or herbs, and type), color (color and colorless), appearance (clear or cloudy), manufacturing process (maceration or blending), etc. It is useful at this point to note the differences between similar products such as ‘Cream’ and ‘Crème’ liqueur.

Cream liqueur

‘Cream liqueurs’ are thick liqueurs made with cream, milk, or some other dairy product, and their strength is usually lower than that of other liqueurs. Owing to their ‘special’ composition, their shelf-life is shorter than that of other liqueurs, and after they have been opened, they should be kept refrigerated.

Creme liqueur

‘Crème’ (pronounced ‘Krem’) is a term that is followed by the name of a specific fruit or other vegetal material and is reserved only for liqueurs with a minimum sugar content of 250 g/litre. These liqueurs contain enough sugar to become thick and creamy in texture, but there is no actual cream in them.

According to European legislation, liqueurs that specify fruits or plant materials (including pictorial representation) must contain at least 90% of the cited materials, and only 100% natural products can be used in their elaboration. If the term ‘natural’ source of flavor is not specified in the label, artificial (synthetic) flavorings may be used. However, USA legislation allows the use of the term ‘boosted natural’ flavors, which may contain up to 0.1% of artificial flavor components. Some regulations of other countries may also specify different specifications, e.g., Spanish legislation determines that ‘juice liqueurs’ must contain at least 20% natural juice from the cited fruit.

Alcopops

Recently, ‘gelled liqueurs’ and ‘alcopops’ have appeared on the market. ‘Gelled liqueurs’ are characterized by their gel texture, and an alcohol-free beverage base is mixed with hydrocolloids (e.g., gellan and gelatin) at high temperature, followed by turbulent mixing with an alcohol/water mixture and homogenization to produce a solid gel. This gel is stable at ambient temperature and may be used for direct consumption or as a filling in wafers, chocolates, and other foods. The mouthfeel of the gelled product depends on the composition of the alcoholic beverages and the gelling agents used.

‘Alcopops’ are liqueurs, usually fruit liqueurs, of low alcoholic content, and have recently appeared on the UK market, being marketed primarily at young people.

Composition

Owing to the specific characteristics of certain liqueurs or their manufacturing processes, some liqueurs are protected under specific quality denominations, similar to spirits such as whiskies, brandies, and gins. The most common indication, especially for products elaborated in European countries, is PDO (Protected Designation of Origin).

However, because liqueurs are not a static medium, their composition and characteristics do not remain constant. Their minor constituents, especially pigments and flavoring, undergo a large number of changes, not only during manufacture but also during storage. These are mainly degradation reactions catalyzed by aqueous acidic medium, high temperature, and light (UV irradiation).

Such changes make it difficult to determine the authenticity of these products, and so, in the last decade, many papers on the determination of authentication parameters of different liqueurs have been published. In general, aroma compounds have been studied and described as useful parameters to determine the authentication of liqueurs. Isomers and isotopes studies are very useful, because their presence and relative amounts in natural flavor extracts and synthetic preparations are usually different.

Phenolic compounds and other pigments such as carotenoids have also been evaluated as characteristic parameters of natural liqueurs.

If you are interested to develop a liqueur, feel free to contact us for further information. Contact Us

Laboratory

Denatured Alcohol VS Isopropyl Alcohol

Isopropyl alcohol and denatured alcohol share many similiraties. However their chemical structures, means of production, and toxicity vary. In science, the term alcohol refers to a broad range of organic compounds containing one or more hydroxyl – hydrogen and oxygen – groups. They have a long history of human use as cleaners and disinfectants, although the chemical group’s biggest claim to fame can be found in liquor stores and bars : ethyl alcohol, or grain alcohol, finds use among humans as a recreational beverage or drug. However, isopropyl alcohol and denatured alcohol cannot be safely consumed by humans.

Alcohol Production Methods

Humans make alcohol by fementing fruits or grains, anything with a high starch content. Most often, alcohol that is created to be turned into denatured alcohol comes from sugarcane, beets and corn. After producers make highly concentrated alcohol, they add a variety of substances to it to prevent humans from drinking it due to its poisonous nature or extremely bitter taste : Benzene, formaldehyde and iodine, for example.

While ethyl alcohol isn’t particularly harmful to humans before the denaturing process, ingesting isopropyl alcohol can cause vomiting, intestinal bleeding and, in severe cases, death. Producers make isopropyl alcohol through a reaction of propylene, a petroleum byproduct, and sulfuric acid, and then add water.

The two types of alcohol have different chemical formulax  : ethanol (C2H6O) and isopropanol (C3H8O). Isopropyl alcohol can be found as a bittering agent in denatured alcohol.

Uses for Different Alcohols 

After producers add bittering agents, denatured alcohol becomes more toxic than isopropyl alcohol. Additionally, some of the additive chemicals can harm a human’s skin. As such, it rarely finds use in medical settings.

Isopropyl alcohol, on the other hand, can be found in most hospitals and medicine cabinets. It’s relatively mild effect on human skin also means cosmetic makers add it to products like hand lotions. Similarly, isopropyl alcohol can be safely used to clean electonic components, unlike denatured alcohol.

When denatured alcohol evaporates, it leaves behind a residue that can affect the sensitive parts of a computer. Similarly, some of the other chemicals in denatured alcohol can be corrosive to plastics. Denatured alcohol can also be found in cosmetics, but most often it finds use as an industrial chemical. Denatured alcohol can be used as fuel stoves or lamps. Both types of alcohol can be used as solvents and, in some cases, desinfectants.

If you want to know more information, feel free to contact us.

Brandy distillation

Brandy VS Cognac

Brandy VS Cognac

Victor Hugo called Cognac the “liquor of the gods.” It’s become known as a symbol of French luxury, the best brandy money can buy (yes, cognac is a brandy). 

What people forget is that Cognac is a type of brandy, but it has to be made in a certain part of France in a certain way. It’s a worthwhile reminder for the vast majority who still segment the two spirits, often putting Cognac on a pedestal compared with the wider brandy category. The key separation between the two contingents is that Cognac is tightly regulated by the Appellation d’Origine Contrôlée (AOC), which determines the spirit’s region of production, grape varieties, distillation, maturation and blending processes. Armagnac, another sub­category of brandy, faces similar restrictions, with production contained to the Armagnac region of France.

By contrast, brandy producers outside of these regions have greater creative freedoms. However, while producers in the US, India, South Africa and even Australia are able to experiment more liberally with base ingredients, additional flavours and cask finishes, has brandy’s lack of regulation also hindered its standing among consumers? Would regulation of the wider category be welcomed – or even possible?

According to the EU Regulation number 110/2008 :

BRANDY OR WEINBRAND :

  1. Brandy or Weinbrand is a spirit drink :
  1. Produced from wine spirit, whether or not wine distillate has been added, distilled at less than 94.8% vol., provided that distillate does not exceed a maximum of 50% of the alcoholic content of the finished product.
  2. Matured for at least one year in oak receptacles or for at least six months in oak casks with a capacity of less than 1000 litres.
  3. Containing a quantity of volatile substances equal or exceeding 125 grams per hectolitre of 100% vol. alcohol, and derived exclusively from the distillation or redistillation o the raw materials used.
  4. Having a maximum methanol content of 200 grams per hectolitre of 100% vol. alcohol.

b) The minimum alcoholic strength by volume of Brandy or Weinbrand shall be 36%.

c) No addition of alcohol as defined in Annex 5, diluted or not, shall take place.

d) Brandy or Weinbrand shall not be flavoured. This shall not exclude traditional production mehtods.

e) Brandy or Weinbrand may only contain added caramel as a means to adapt colour.

Cognac, meanwhile, must be made from white grapes from one of six different terroirs; the Ugni Blanc grape variety is its primary ingredient, Only spirits made from grapes harvested and fermented within the Cognac delimited area, listed below, can legally lay claim to the registered designations of origin “Cognac”, “Eau-de-vie de Cognac”, or “Eau-de-vie des Charentes”:

  • almost all of the Charente-Maritime department;
  • a large part of the Charente department;
  • a few villages in the Dordogne and Deux-Sèvres departments. 

Where do they come from?

Cognac must come from the Cognac region in Southwest France, which is known for its superior terroir (the soil, climate, and topography that contribute to grape-growing conditions).

Brandy can come from anywhere in the world.

What about blending and aging?

After distillation, the liquid is blended and aged, which is what really makes cognac special. At Hennessy, for example, a tasting committee of 7 people meets from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to taste about 40 different samples of “eaux de vie,” as the individual distilled spirits are known before blending. It takes 10 years of training before one can join the committee, according to the brand’s ambassador Jordan Bushell.

For a Cognac, we have different quality and age :

VS stands for ‘Very Special’

Alternatively, ✯✯✯ (three stars), means exactly the same as VS. So if you see a bottle with three stars on it, you know it’s a VS Cognac. A blend qualifies as a VS Cognac if it consists of eaux-de-vie aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 2 years.

VSOP means ‘Very Superior Old Pale’

Officially, according to the BNIC, V.S.O.P. stands for Very Superior Old Pale.  However, it’s often referred to as Very Special Old Pale. A VSOP Cognac is where the youngest brandy in the blend is aged for at least four years in barrels. However, the average age of Cognacs in the VSOP category may well be older than this. It’s the youngest eau-de-vie in the blend that determines the actual quality of the Cognac. Meaning the moment a four-year-old eau-de-vie is incorporated in the blend it automatically becomes a V.S.O.P. Cognac – even if every other component is much older.

The origin of the expression V.S.O.P. dates back to an order made by the British Royal Court in 1817. They required what was then termed a ‘Cognac Pale.’ In other words, a Cognac that is not sweetened or colored by the addition of sugar and caramel. At that time it was very common to take advantage of using such additives. This is how the term was born.

Other designations for VSOP are “Reserve” or simply “Old”. Interestingly, when the Cognac culture first became popular, and before the terminology that we use today came to be, the spirit was either referred to as simply Cognac – or Cognac Eau de Vie.

XO means ‘Extra Old’

XO stands for Extra Old, and it describes a Cognac consisting of eaux-de-vie that have been aged in oak barrels for a minimum of 10 years. However, XOs often have a much older average age, with many XO Cognacs being 20 years old and older.

Cognac is a Brandy, but the best one

We can see that the rules for a Cognac are very strict and well controlled by the BNIC. For a Brandy, in Europe, it is ruled by the EU regulation number 110/2008, which is a good base but it is very light in term of ageing and what a label must say or not. What does a Brandy VSOP or Napoleon means? Not much. 

What does “French Brandy” means? well, not much too. Most “French Brandy” actually comes from Spain, and are quickly blended in France to have the label “French Brandy”, but there is no text that defines clearly what a “French Brandy” must be. 

We are proud to have teamed up with French Distillers and wine Growers, mainly from the South of France, which allow us to say that our “French Brandy” is produced, distilled and aged in France. The grapes are French, it is fermented and distilled in France, and even our oak is French. 

So contact us for further information, and enjoy responsibly.

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Ethanol distillation

What is ethanol and the different grades available

Besides our favorite drinks stocked in our bar, alcohol is also a main component in a lot of everyday products we are using : window cleaner, hand sanitizer to perfumes. Ethanol for non beverage beverage and industrial uses is a very large subject. it is hard to organise in distinct categories, which can be hard when you are looking to buy ethanol.

In order to help you, we will explore the different grades of ethanol and what they are used for.

Ethanol, also known as ethyl alcohol, pure alcohol, grain alcohol, or drinking alcohol, is often abbreviated as EtOH. EtOH is a light alcohol and is a volatile, colourless, flammable liquid with a characteristic odour. EtOH burns with an almost invisible flame and is biodegradable.

Without proper conditions, EtOH attracts water while stored. Another important feature of EtOH is the formation of an azeotropic mixture with water.

PRODUCTION PROCESS

EtOH is a naturally widespread chemical, produced by ripe fruits and by wild yeasts or bacteria through fermentation. Ethanol from biomass can be produced from any feedstock containing appreciable amounts of sugar or materials that can be converted into sugar. Fermentation (biotechnology) is the predominate pathway for EtOH production. Biomass can also be converted to EtOH via biotechnological and thermochemical pathways.

BIOCHEMICAL PATHWAYS

The most common raw materials are sugar cane and corn, and in temperate climates also sugar beet, wheat or potatoes. The overall fermentation process starting from glucose is:

C6H12O6pastedGraphic.png2 C2H5OH + 2 CO2

Naturally, the underlying biochemical processes are much more complicated. Adapted yeasts, for example Saccharomyces cerevisiae are used and fermentation can be carried out with or without the presence of oxygen. With oxygen some yeasts are prone to respiration, the conversion of sugars to carbon dioxide and water. As EtOH is a toxin, there is a limit to the maximum concentration in the brew produced by the yeasts. This results in a high energy demand for EtOH purification by distillation.

In industrial processes an efficiency of about 90 to 95 % of theoretical yields can be reached. But, unmodified yeast will only convert sugars with 6 carbon atoms. As sugars with 6 carbon atoms are only a part of the biomass the overall conversion efficiency is much lower. To enable the use of a wider range of biomass components, processes that also convert sugars with 5 carbon atoms are under development. Larger compounds in biomass (cellulose and hemicellulose) must first be broken down into fermentable sugars and lignin, which is currently not a candidate feedstock for EtOH.

OTHER PATHWAYS

Non-biotechnological methods for production of EtOH have been developed. EtOH from chemical conversion routes is called synthetic ethanol. The most common chemical process for EtOH production is the acid-catalyzed hydration of ethylene:

C2H4 + H20 pastedGraphic.png C2H5OH

Ethylene is obtained from petrochemical feedstocks. Phosphoric acid is mostly used as a catalyst.

EtOH can also be produced from synthesis gas through chemical synthesis. In addition, certain microorganisms are able to digest synthesis gas to produce ethanol.

Ethanol is a valuable ingredient in the production of :

  • Alcoholic beverages: Spirits and alcohols (e.g. vodka & gin). Neutral alcohol is mixed with water, aromas and flavourings to produce the final product.
  • Food and non-alcoholic beverages: Flavours and aromas. Ethanol is used as a natural product to extract and concentrate flavours and aromas, which are then used by the food & drink industry. No alcohol is contained in the final products.
  • Chemicals: Paints and thermometers. Ethanol is widely used as a solvent, and you can find it in many household products, such as the de-icer or anti-freeze you use to clear your car windscreen. Increasingly ethanol is used as a renewable alternative to fossil-based chemicals for creating a large range of products, such as bioplastics.
  • Cosmetics: Ethanol is contained in perfumes, deodorants, and other cosmetics.
  • Pharmaceutical: Ethanol also has many medical uses, and can be found in products such as medicines, medical wipes and as an antiseptic in most antibacterial hand sanitiser gels.

Ethanol grades

1) 95% (95.6%) ethanol

This is the highest concentration of ethanol you can get by distillation, because 95.6% ethanol is an azeotrope, which means the vapor state has the same ethanol:water ratio as the liquid state.

2) Absolute (99-100%) ethanol

Some procedures that are sensitive to the presence of water require absolute ethanol. A common method to produce ethanol with a higher concentration than 95% is to use additives that disrupt the azeotrope composition and allow further distillation. For this reason, absolute ethanol sometimes contains trace amounts of these additives (such as benzene). Absolute ethanol is hygroscopic (it attracts water), so don’t expect it to remain ‘100%’ ethanol for long if it’s left uncapped.

3) Denatured ethanol

Denatured ethanol (either 95% or absolute) contains additives (such as methanol and isopropanol) that render it unsafe to drink, and therefore exempt from certain beverage taxes. This makes it cheaper than pure ethanol.

If you like further clarification or advice on which ethanol  type is best suited for your purpose – contact us today Contact Us