When I grow up I want to start a distillery.

Good Morning Ted and Jody:


I suppose it was a reaction to my dream yesterday morning; I stopped at the Longview Library book sale and bought a couple of books for 50₵ each.  I picked up David Attenborough’s Life on Earth. I always enjoy his documentaries when they show up on the various learning channels.  I started reading it last night; and, indeed, his writing style makes biology more enjoyable than Mr. Whitlock did in the 9th grade; and that is saying something, as Mr. Whitlock was a card.  I suppose, part of the reason I purchased this book was also that when I grow up I want to start a distillery. 


I figure I need to know chemistry and biology to become a distiller.  I need the biology to understand fermentation and how to both optimize it and make a better mash (actually wine, but there are specialized language conventions to keep straight).  While the Attenborough book is not a biology book proper, I picked up a biology text at Good Will later in the day. 


I also need to learn chemistry.  The library was not selling any chemistry texts, so I got one of those at Good Will later as well.  I need the chemistry to learn the proper temperatures for pulling the various distillates out of a mash (I think the proper way to say it is “pull off the mash, but then I have a lot to learn).  Some of the “stuff” one pulls off during distillation are not good for one (whether or not alcohol is good for one or not, notwithstanding.  For example, the cardiologist who retired leaving me without said specialist, about whom I have referred to from time to time, claimed a drink a day was good for the heart—it probably warmed his).  But some of the stuff that floats on top is fusel oil.  That definitely needs to come out.


Then there is the genetic material endemic to the particular contents of the mash—berry, grain, potato.  Genetic material is some of the fist “stuff” to come off the mash.  That genetic material moon shiners call high shoots.  High shoots are not only potent (register a specific gravity close to 100% alcohol) impart flavor (and smell) to the finished product.  I have been told that if one uses a distillation column which is able to pull stuff off more or less discriminately, it allows one to control how much of the high shoots, genetic material, goes into one’s product and allows one to keep the dangerous stuff out of the product.  So, as you can see, I need to learn a lot before I can get into the distillation business.


Warmest regards, Ed


About democratizemoney

Retired University Professor
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2 Responses to When I grow up I want to start a distillery.

  1. beetleypete says:

    I was never good at either Chemistry or Biology when I was at school. However, my first wife was a lecturer in Biology at London University. What with living with her, and 22 years as an EMT, I picked up a great deal of biology half-knowledge. As for Chemistry, I am none the wiser. I suspect that I would blow the house sky-high, if I tried your concoction.
    Life On Earth is indeed a very good series. it is repeated a lot here, and I almost always watch it again. I have never read the book though. Attenborough is revered in the UK, If they ever decide to have a patron saint of television, it will be St. David, undoubtedly.
    Best wishes, Pete.


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