Palmetto Coast

Adjusting Proof in Liqueurs

17 posts in this topic

I am looking for a better way to adjust proof in liqueurs.  By better, I mean better than add water, re-distill sample for obscuration, repeat, etc.

I'm not that smart, so an example would be great.  :huh:

We proof our basic spirits with hydrometers, by weight,  Can someone walk me through the correct way to take a small sample and figure out how much water to add to bring it down to a specific proof?  

I understand that we would still need to re-distill the end product to ensure it is, indeed, the correct proof.

 

Thanks,

Todd

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I've been pondering that myself. Presently our only liqueur has the sugar added before aging with no further correction there, so I only distill it two or three times as I find out how much water to add and dial it in. So bear in mind this is theoretical, I'm hoping someone corrects whatever it is I'm missing but hopefully this helps:

We all know that proof is a simple ratio of alcohol volume to total volume, and have tables giving density based on it.

Degrees Brix is a measure of sugar mass to solution mass. Fortunately, we have an equation that tells us how it changes the density (at 20c) that is usually used in reverse: Brix = 231.61 × (SG − 0.9977)

So if we know the brix we want in a simple sugar/water mixture, we can flip everything around and have SG = (Brix/231.61) + 0.9977

We then know the density of the sweetened water we're blending into our alcohol. Not sure how it effects blending volume reduction form here, but it's probably a small correction factor that can be nailed down after a couple of batches if it matters at all. I'll ignore it at your peril.

Shall we say that we want to proof down using 5 Brix syrup?

5 / 231.61 + 0.9977 = 1.0193

So, we know that 1 liter at 20c will weigh 1.0193 kilos. What will 1 liter of ethanol weigh? TTB tables are at 60f, but this table agrees with the TTB table and provides a second set of gravities at 20c. According to this, 1 liter of 160 proof alcohol at 20c will weigh 0.8606 kilos.

Again, ignoring blending volume reduction, if we mix these two volumes together we should have 1.88 kilos of 80 proof alcohol that is about 2.7 Brix (5 * 1.019 / 1.88)

That final number may be a bit off, but it should be at least better than guesswork.

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Hi Todd,

Meerkat is working on a calculator for this problem but I guess you need something to work with in the interim.

One easy way that I do it is to assume there is no volume contraction.

Say you have 40 litre of 19% and you want to drop it to 16%.

You would need to add (40 X 19/16) - 40 = 7.5 litres. This will probably test a little higher than 16% but I overcome this by writing on the label what it is, eg 16.2%

If you need to hit the target you need to re-calculate water and re-test

 

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Guys, thanks for your input.  We have been speaking to Meerkat as he works to develop this software.  I would hope and suggest that anyone with insight please contact him, as this project could benefit our entire community.

 

Thanks,

Todd

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Would love to see what @meerkatis working on as it is a huge time suck checking proof obscuration per the ttb guidelines

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Hi CaptnKB, I'm a bit embarrassed about how long it is taking me to get this done.  The bits that have been completed can be seen at

http://www.katmarsoftware.com/alcodenslq.htm but since then I have been working on what Todd (Palmetto Coast) origninally asked above, i.e. how to do the actual blending calculations.  I found it very hard to put together a mechanistic formula that I could use in the computer to tackle the wide range of blending options that are possible.  With whiskey or vodka you have only alcohol and water to contend with, but although liqueurs only have two more ingredients (flavoring and sugar) the complexity grows by much more than just the doubling in components.  But this week brought me my Eureka moment and I believe I have solved all the math and logic problems and now it is simply a case of putting it all together.

One aspect that I have not resolved yet is the range of proofs I need to deal with.  Although it seems rare for a liqueur to contain more than 90 proof, some of the ingredients may contain higher proofs than that.  I have posted a question regarding the proof of spirits used in making fruit infusions and if you can help with that please see my post at

http://adiforums.com/index.php?/topic/7617-spirit-strength-for-fruit-infusion/

 

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Harvey!  Glad to hear things are rolling along and you're getting Le Clos. 😅  Can't wait to see what you come up with. 

 

Todd

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Hi Everyone following this topic,  I limited experience with distilling and proofing from college days but I have seen other attempts of software for distilled spirits relating proofing and I must say nothing I've seen can compete with Katmar. 

I would like to try it out once it's completed and available.

 

 

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Towards the end of last year (2016) I thought that I had virtually completed the liqueur blending calculator. But then some of the liqueur makers who have kindly been giving me advice pointed out that sometimes in the proofing process the sugar level is "close enough" to not need any further correction while the alcohol must be adjusted to within the TTB rules.

At that stage my calculator required that both the alcohol and sugar be corrected at the same time. I have now added the ability to correct only the alcohol proof while allowing the sugar level to find its own level. Strangely, the math for correcting only alcohol is more complicated than that for correcting both together.

A few examples of liqueur blending calculations can be seen at http://www.katmarsoftware.com/alcodenslq.htm I am now drawing a line in the sand and will not make any further changes to the program unless I discover a bug. Hopefully the program will be ready fot public testing by the end of February.

Thanks to all of you who have continued giving me advice and encouragement - and for putting up with my broken promises regarding the end date.

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Hi all- I ran an experiment in which I tested the proof of my spirit and attempted to bring it down to target proof via the addition of sugar, and then I did the same with water. While it works with water, it was completely inaccurate with sugar even though I added both at the same weight. How can my proof be spot on with water addition but totally off with sugar? I am struggling to understand it because weight is weight...?

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1 hour ago, Liquid Gold said:

Hi all- I ran an experiment in which I tested the proof of my spirit and attempted to bring it down to target proof via the addition of sugar, and then I did the same with water. While it works with water, it was completely inaccurate with sugar even though I added both at the same weight. How can my proof be spot on with water addition but totally off with sugar? I am struggling to understand it because weight is weight...?

Are you using a hydrometer to do this?  If so, this check the gauging manual in reference to dissolved solids, and this sweet, sweet video series. https://www.ttb.gov/spirits/proofing.shtml

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The reason for the difference between adding water and sugar is that proof is based on volume and a given mass of sugar has a different volume from the same mass of water.

For example. if you have 10 gallons of 100 proof spirit and you add 10 lbs of water the volume will increase to 11.169 gallons. But if you added 10 lbs of sugar to 10 gallons of 100 proof spirit the volume would increase to only 10.749 gallons.  In both examples no additional alcohol is added, so both contain the same amount of alcohol after dilution.  Adding the water would lower the proof from 100 to 89.54, but adding the sugar would lower it to only 93.03 because the volume has increased by a smaller amount.

If you used a standard proof hydrometer to determine the proof of the sample with the sugar added it would read about 30.4 proof because the sugar would have significantly increased the density of the sample and the hydrometer is not calibrated for that.

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I think I may have a simple solution but it is untested and I am new, so I could be wrong.  Why not make a solution?  Why try to figure all of that out when alcohol is measured by volume?  Seems to me like you are making it much more complicated than it needs to be.  It's like when they wanted to figure out the volume of the crown jewels and all of the scientists were coming up with these huge mathematical problems until someone just put the crown in a tub to see how much the water raised. If instead of adding sugar you add a mixture of sugar and distilled water, you would only need to treat it the same as if you were proofing neutral spirits.  For example if you wanted to make a gallon of 100 proof into 50 proof and wanted to add 2 cups of sugar then put the sugar in a gallon container, add water to fill the gallon container with the sugar already in it, mix it up and the solution add to the liquor.  

 

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2 hours ago, JCMISKO said:

For example if you wanted to make a gallon of 100 proof into 50 proof and wanted to add 2 cups of sugar then put the sugar in a gallon container, add water to fill the gallon container with the sugar already in it, mix it up and the solution add to the liquor.  

 

The issue is one gallon of 100 proof liquor plus one gallon of water, with or without sugar does not equal two gallons. 

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Hmmm. OK, but you know that 1 gallon of 100 proof liquor has 1/2 gallon of pure alcohol in it.  So if you add you 1 gallon of water and it equals 1.9 or 2.1 gallons you would know that 1.9 or 2.1 gallons had 1/2 gallon of alcohol in it.  So it would be either 46 or 52 proof depending on which it came out.

 

Which is it, by the way, does it come out with more or less than you add?

 

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Adding a gallon of water to a gallon of alcohol is less than two gallons. A gallon of sugar water to a gallon of alcohol is also less, but not by as much. The trouble is that no one has a reliable formula for that difference of how much based on sugar content. Meercat has been working on one.

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On ‎3‎/‎17‎/‎2017 at 6:11 AM, JCMISKO said:

I think I may have a simple solution but it is untested and I am new, so I could be wrong.  Why not make a solution?  Why try to figure all of that out when alcohol is measured by volume?  Seems to me like you are making it much more complicated than it needs to be.  It's like when they wanted to figure out the volume of the crown jewels and all of the scientists were coming up with these huge mathematical problems until someone just put the crown in a tub to see how much the water raised. If instead of adding sugar you add a mixture of sugar and distilled water, you would only need to treat it the same as if you were proofing neutral spirits.  For example if you wanted to make a gallon of 100 proof into 50 proof and wanted to add 2 cups of sugar then put the sugar in a gallon container, add water to fill the gallon container with the sugar already in it, mix it up and the solution add to the liquor.  

 

The difficulty is measuring an exact volume. The measuring container needs to be calibrated at a specific temperature eg 60f or 20c then you need to have the liquid at that exact temperature. When mixing water and alcohol and possibly sugar, there is an exothermic reaction, the mixture heats up. For the accuracy that TTB requires, a parallel sided, calibrated glass measuring cylinder at standard temperature is no where near accurate enough.

Cheap calibrated electronic scales in the correct range are much more accurate, and now meerkat has come up with an easy to use calculator.

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