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bostonapothecary last won the day on October 30 2020

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  1. Pombe was the yeast, but the bug here just could be as simple as lactic acid bacteria producing pretty much only lactic acid which is a fixed acid. It would be extremely cool for a production to replicate this kind of resting technique pre distillation. It could possibly be coupled with a film yeast like suaveolens (not necessarily in a molasses rum). Those places must have been a sight to behold back then. One wild card, I don't recall being answered is whether the Batavia Arracks used skimmings or not.
  2. Palm sugar arak typically implies Sri Lankan origin and I found a pretty spectacular set of their research papers years ago. "Excise anecdotes from the Arak country" was also a lot of fun to put together with amazing stories and a realization of terroir. Sadly, I've never actually tasted it. Batavia Arrack was all from only five Chinese firms operating in Batavia. There were also Dutch firms near by but they were never in the category and didn't have the same yeast process. I don't know if there is any specific differentiation among the five firms, but I think a few were better regarded than the others. To my knowledge there is only one distillery left with the second to last closing in the 1980's, but I'm not certain. I'm pretty sure E. & A Scheer is the sole source for all of it outside Indonesia. There was a time when Batavia Arrack fetched the most money for any spirit in the world, well beyond both Cognac and Scotch.
  3. Keep in mind, some of the agricole funkiness can be the "vesouté" aroma described by Kervegant that comes from cane that is not defecated. He called this aroma a flaw, but I enjoy it, particularly in cocktails.
  4. Something to keep in mind is that Batavia Arracks were revealed to use Pombe yeasts at about the turn of the century (by Eijkman who became a Nobel laureate). I have one of their yeasts collected in the 1920's. I have not used this yeast yet, but my research partner (who is way ahead of them) thinks it is the champion among our 14 historic Pombe yeasts. I collected and translated most all the Pombe literature. I had a few citations that Kervegant did not and he had one major one I haven't found yet. That paper supposedly details how a feature of their fermentations was being very high pH. I have not seen that claim repeated. I surveyed one Batavia Arrack with the birectifier, but never published the results because it turned up some things I could not explain. One was that the first fractions were abnormally weak relative to any other heavy spirit meaning they were quite low on ethyl acetate. At the time, I thought this may have been due to aggressive cutting to sell the product as a concentrate for the flavor industry. It could have been cut in a way to not pay taxes on the fractions that did not matter to the flavoring industry. That is probably not the case and instead it is sold as a new make spirit and sees fairly low ester creation. At the back end of the spirit, the fraction 5 is abnormally strong on aroma I'd attribute to rum oil/rose ketones, but it is not estery and the very last fractions are not very acidic, but do seem to possess a butyric/butter sour kind of character that is really pleasant. It was also lower than average on fusel oil. The quality of Batavia Arrack may just be about maximizing the ability of their yeast to create rum oil in a high pH environment similar to what was described by Arroyo.
  5. Y'all may enjoy this paper on "bauer oil" that turned up while translating Kervegant's 1946, Rhum and Canne Eau-de-vie. Bauer oil may be a match for Arroyo's "rum oil" and these ideas go all the way back to Micko and then across to old authors that talked of Cognac oil. The "oil" is a complex mixture and has both saponifiable and non-saponifiable parts. The bulk of it is saponifiable. The portion that isn't may be the realm of rose ketones and all that nonsense. In my experience with the birectifier, when concentrated, these fractions aren't harmonious and can seem intensely acrid, but when diluted to normal levels and part of a sensory matrix that includes ethyl acetate they define a spirit and represent quality. One thing recently learned about Pombe fission yeasts is that they have on average much thicker cell walls than budding yeasts. This gives their lees a lot more potential for aroma when broken down. In a typical ferment, fission yeasts also have the tendency to produce more esters because the cell wall at the point of their division is extra thick and a portion dissolves into the ferment upon successful separation.
  6. Recently, I started exploring titration for acids and ester determinations and wrote a primer. Is anyone here currently using titration in their analysis work that is willing to offer some tips? I'd love an automatic titrator, but working affordably so the work can be duplicated by others is important. My goals are to accurately measure titratable esters in a spirit and then subtract the ethyl acetate isolated in the first three birectifier fractions to create a ratio of low value to high value esters. Arroyo worked with a similar ratio in Studies on Rum. I'd also like to be able to create numbers that can bring more of the historic data tables to life. Tracking the development of ethyl acetate is important to understanding maturation. Titratable acidity is key to working with ferments that feature large buffers and significant noble volatile acid production. I'll hopefully add these basic titration results to my birectifier role model case studies. Any tips, tools, suppliers, or calculators you like?
  7. I can only wildly speculate because I do not have enough experience here. From what I've heard, bottles must be rinsed with whatever they are to be filled with. These bottles may have something leftover from their manufacturer. In some of the birectifier analysis I've done of aromatized spirits, stuff with lots of very volatile terpenes appears in the first fraction and I've encountered strange condensation quickly developing in the tasting glass with a watch glass cover. These fraction are dilluted to about 35% ABV. So my theory would be that the manufacturer may have used some kind of citrus based degreaser/cleaning agent on the bottles that contains odd very volatile terpenes. Because this is so common, what I'd like to see is a trade group approach glass manufacturers and convince them to publish a bulletin on the topic for the benefit of the entire industry. Trade groups and the industry used to do tons of stuff like that and it was also often organized by the IRS labs. It doesn't seem too hard to improvise a study to rule out things. I'd hand bottle an array of products at differing proofs with rinsed and unrinsed bottles. Possibly start with neutral spirits and then do your various products. These can live on a shelf with dates on them. Whatever rinses out could also be fractionally distilled to concentrate/isolate it and see if that yielded any quick insights.
  8. I don't really know much about this topic, but I remember a Seagram/Hiram Walker paper from the 1940's mentioning that they reduced a massive amount of losses by instituting an inhouse cooperage repair program to stop leaking. I bet it takes a ton of observational skill and intuition to know what will add up if you don't drag the barrel down and whack the hoops. Are people seeing consistency in stats across barrels or a bunch of outliers?
  9. "How low pH can intensify beta-damascenone and dimethyl trisulfide production through beer aging." This is the paper, I'm going to grab first. One thing that sets rum apart from other spirits, is sometimes have a wildly low pH, like vinegar process rums that Hampden makes, and also the long resting periods where these compounds may form by what the beer industry called "staling". When you maximize the multiple channels of formation, something very special may happen. Tomato brandy has some cool theoretical potential, so does carrot.
  10. I'm hoping that if we finish the birectifier automation kit, we can create case studies for a bunch of distillations with isolated esters to see what happens. Something I'm really curious about is the place of the odder acetals and what they feel like organoleptically. Damascenone has the potential to be everywhere carotene is, but it may not be too important until it is at levels where its radiant sensory properties emerge (to borrow a word the perfumers use). I think the best way to sum up radiance is that it increases the threshold of perception of ethanol, making a spirit feel more mellow while decreasing the threshold of perception of other odorants, like esters, making them seem more intense. It also dramatically increases persistence. Specialty GCMS studies find it everywhere in trace quantities, but if it isn't easily observable with a low resolution tool like the birectifier, it may not be too important.
  11. I'm itching to get reference for all the rose ketones and play with them. I wrote a post called Sensory Sketches for Apprentices where you take fractions and systematically add them to a whole distillate to see how they impact the sensory matrix. It takes a time investment, but you can learn a ton.
  12. Hi all, I started this topic as a catchall for conversations on all the high value congeners chased when producing rum. HVC's includes esters, noble acetals, noble volatile acidity, and what ever rum oil is (rose ketones and goodness knows what else). There is room to talk about harmony, philosophy, and how the fate of everything high value is bound to fusel oil. I thought I would kick off the topic by sharing two French translations I just put up from 1975. The first paper, Qualitative And Quantitative Study Of Volatile Constituents Of Rum, is fascinating. They start inspired by Karl Micko who was the father of the 8 fraction birectifier method: They work their way to a rose ketone connection and give us a rum oil smoking gun: This paper also contains very unique sensory details because they used GC-Olfactometry: What they perform is a bit exotic and startlingly expensive. A lot of the same organoleptic insights can be obtained from the birectifier method. I'm drawn to the comment about Calvados and acetals dominating. I've yet to do a Calvados birectifier case study. The next paper, The Position Of Rhum In The Context Of Spirits In General, is quite unique and raises a lot of questions. They spend quite a bit of time on Damascenone, but also TDN (petrol in reisling) and TTN (not familiar with). What other readers may be most interested in is the unique ester data tables with extraordinary samples: The first question raised by me is don't you think a whiskey would have more ethyl lactate? And then secondly, why do they have a column for isoamyl acetate for rum, but not for the other spirit categories?
  13. The University of Bordeaux was just as aggressive as UC Davis in increasing the quality of European wines. They had storied thinkers like Denis Dubourdieu who just passed recently. They eradicated a lot of very specific flaws through education. A flaw is not a flaw until you attach symbolic concepts like regrets or missed opportunities. A Dubourdieu project was eliminating the bell pepper aroma from certain varietals (Carmenere). Many thought it was site specific terroir, but it was revealed to be removed by pruning techniques. Removal of the character added a lot of value to the grapes. The international style is a whole different story, but related to low risk wine making, and fad flavors. That style doesn't dream enough and no wonder it wore out quick. Even in the center of the terroir scene, a problem is that ordinary wine making flaws have been so significantly eradicated that when they reappear, elite critics are mistaking them for terroir. What is ordinary becomes briefly extraordinary until the regrets and missed opportunities are re-attached. Jamie Goode, who wrote, Authentic Wine: Toward Natural and Sustainable Winemaking, just wrote a book about understanding faults in wine. Mezcal, like so many spirits, are well in the realm of acquired tastes. We have fun looking at the production of eccentric spirits because they seem very risky and yet it mostly works out. Many of them do have flaws and Mezcal is often flinging anything at consumers hoping they will try a single bottle before moving on. We often don't have the language to separate faults from acquired tastes. One cool thing about the flavors in rum, particularly rum oil, is it was absolutely chased. Jamaican rums and Batavia Arracks fetched the highest amount of money in the world for spirits ever. This was leaps and bounds above what other spirits got at the same time. Very certain rums were the pinnacle of luxury consumption so we know something about the value of what we're chasing. It really captivated imaginations.
  14. I think I made some assumptions and chose California's figures at the Judgement of Paris which is an entrepreneurship story which inspires a lot of distillers. Europe having fine wine is a bit messy. It definitely had them, the best, and was no doubt was direct inspiration for California's pioneers, but Europe also had a sea of local wines riddled with faults. The Europe we know today which is a beautiful sea of diverse consistently produced fine wines is probably because of incredible oenology education programs and small scale labs at small properties. Knowledge and awareness of how sulfur acts on wine is not enough, you still need instruments to measure sulfur and wield the knowledge. Old California wine history has some problems which is why the oral history series was created. Tchelistcheff and Amerine gives us really plain looks at the state of the best early California wines (very few and their stories are incredible) while Leon Adams muddies it and gives us another. Adams, running the biggest trade group (the wine institute), was an obsessive propagandist. He admits to fabricating a lot of early wine history to build mythology and erase the notion that wine was a salvage product (table grapes > raisins > wine) drunk by bums on skid roe. His two oral histories are completely insane. I don't think California had any truly extraordinary brandies until the Remy Martin Scramsberg project and there are cool oral histories on it as well as two excellent James Guymon lectures by Eli Skofis and Robert Léauté. The cool thing about analysis is it both reinforces and turbo charges intuition so you know when to invest the time and when to not. It is the key to building a palate and understanding materials. Birectifier analysis is very cool because its most basic form is organoleptic. Working with it constantly builds you palate.
  15. It isn't when you consider California and its transformation under figures like Maynard Amerine and André Tchelistcheff. Wine with with fine ambitions as opposed to commodity existed but was extremely limited before the 1970's. When you read all the memoirs and oral histories, the pattern is that all the players were adept lab guys that spent time working with Tchelistcheff, Mondavi, or sitting in on night classes at UC Davis. That lab work also wasn't too wild. It was a lot of tracking titratable acidity and sulfur dioxide.
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