Freeze Distillation - Ice Distillation - The Simplest Form of Distilling Alcohol
Recipe type: Distilling
A couple of episodes back I mentioned that we would be covering a basic course in home distilling. This is the first episode of this series. Before we continue, distilling is illegal in some countries, so please check with your local authorities before getting involved in this. In any event, the process is very interesting, and the science and understanding behind it will at the very least, enrich your life.
- 2 liters wine (any wine of your choice)
- A couple of episodes back I mentioned that we would be covering a basic course in home distilling. This is the first episode of this series. Before we continue, distilling is illegal in some countries, so please check with your local authorities before getting involved in this. In any event, the process is very interesting, and the science and understanding behind it will at the very least, enrich your life.
- This first in the series covers the most basic form of distilling called freeze distillation. Again, before we continue, this method of distillation is only good for fortifying commercially produced wines, beers or ciders.
- To explain this, let's look at the distillation process. When the mash, or fermented liquid is distilled, there are a couple of components that emerge first. Methanol, ethanol and volatile oils are the main make-up of these. Ethanol is drinking alcohol, while methanol is toxic, and the volatile oils just taste really bad.
- When distilling with a pot still or refraction still, the methanol and volatiles emerge first, and these are called the heads. These heads are removed at a rate of 100ml per 20 liters of mash.
- With freeze distilling there is no way to remove the heads, and this is the reason this process is only good for commercially produced wines. Commercially produced wines use specially developed yeasts that inhibit the development of methanol and volatiles, making it safe for use with freeze distillation. So now the question is, why would you do this?
- Freeze distillation is ideal for fortifying wines, or increasing the alcohol content, and especially useful for saving poor quality wines, or wines that have gone bad.
- So let's start. Freeze distilling relies on the simple principal that alcohol and water freeze at different temperatures.
- Water, as we all know, freezes at around zero Celsius, while ethanol freezes at -114c. This massive disparity means that if we freeze wine in our regular household freezer between -15 and -25c, the water content of the wine freezes, while the ethanol content remains liquid. This liquid is then drained from the frozen block giving you and fortified and very well clarified wine.
- Here are the calculations that will give you some insight into the resulting alcohol content of your distillate.
- Keep in mind that it is not only the ethanol that does not freeze. Included in the distillate will be most of the syrups or flavor component of the wine. This is negligible amount, but will add color and concentrated flavor to the resulting product.
- If you start with a liter of wine with an ABV of 13% and collect 500ml of melt runoff, then you will have a fortified wine with an ABV of just below 26%. If you collect just 250ml of runoff, you will have an ABV of just under 52%.
- So let's start. I am going to do this in 2 different ways. The first method is by far the quickest, but is not nearly as accurate as the second method.
- Line a large colander with cling-wrap. Pour in a liter of wine.
- The second method involves pouring a liter of wine into a food safe bottle.
- Place both of these in your freezer. Just remember that water based liquids expand when frozen, and for this reason, you really don't want to tighten the cap of the bottle.... screw it on loosely, otherwise you might end up bursting the bottle in the freezer.
- The following day when everything is well frozen remove these from the freezer.
- Remove the cap from the bottle and invert the bottle in a measuring jug.
- Place the colander over a large bowl. Lift the frozen wine and slide cling-wrap out from underneath the frozen wine.
- Simply leave both on the counter top to start defrosting. The time it takes to collect the runoff is dependent on the ambient room temperature.
- As time passes, you will notice the ice content of each method become more and more pale as the alcohol and syrup content of the frozen wine drains from the main mass.
- Using the calculations mentioned earlier, it is entirely up to you as to how much distillate you collect, and just how strong you want your distillate to be.
- I have collected 500ml from each 1 liter batch, meaning that my distillate has been fortified by 200 percent, giving me an end ABV of 26%.
- You will also notice the the resulting distillate is much clearer in appearance than the original wine. This is due to the fact that a large percentage of impurities in the wine are trapped in the ice, and the small percentage that does escape into distillate precipitates to the bottom of the distillate almost immediately.
- All that remains now is to pour the distillate or fortified wine into a food safe bottle for storage.
- And there it is, a 26% ABV fortified wine made from dirt-cheap rose'.
- I will bee publishing 1 video on distilling per week until this short course is complete. In the meantime, we will continuing with normal food programming.