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Spirit strength for fruit infusion


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I am developing a computer program for blending of liqueurs containing sugars. I do not run a distillery myself, but I understand one possibility that I should cater for as an ingredient in liqueur production is an infusion made by soaking fruit in rectified spirit.

What proof range is used for the rectified spirit? An internet search found only DIY instruction for people who buy a bottle of vodka and make their own infusion at home. I have struggled to find information on how this is done on a commercial scale. Apart from the starting proof of the spirit, I am also interested in knowing how much water and sugar are extracted from the fruit together with the flavors. I don't want to steal anybody's detailed recipes - I only need to know the strength range the program must cover.

Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

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good evening MEERKAT and good morning MECHWARRIOR,,,,,,,,,the second paragraph of your questions depends on what type of fruit and the season , maybe if you GOOGLE "brix readings" or speak with a WINE MAKER this will put you on track

re your 1st paragraph ,,,,,I may be very helpful if you tell me , is the infusion to be used as a TINCTURE added in or will it become your SUBSTRATE / BASE starting point ?

here is a hint for your consideration why not use a JUICE extractor for your trials rather than steeping fruit in ethanol , chances are your readings will be more "stable" each time,,,,,,many regards , brian 73

 

 

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Thanks very much Mech and Brian for your responses.

@TheMechWarrior - In my preliminary workings I have set the upper limit on the alcohol content at 40 mass%, or about 50 %abv depending on the sugar content.  I probably need to increase this a bit for high alcohol liqueur products but my main worry is in the different components that are blended together to make the liqueur.  If 90% abv is used to make an infusion and then that is used as part of the final blend then the program must be able to handle whatever abv the infusion finishes at. Thanks for this information as it confirms that whatever the strength the infusions can be, I do need to increase the limit to cope with liqueurs that are actually produced.

@brian 73 - Unfortunately I do not have a choice of processes.  I want the program to be able to be able to deal with anything (reasonable) that a liqueur maker could throw at it.  I'm sure some liqueur makers will use a juice extract to provide the flavor and some of the sugar, but some may use the fruit with spirit to make the substrate for the liqueur.  I would like to be able to accommodate both options.

 

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17 minutes ago, meerkat said:

If 90% abv is used to make an infusion and then that is used as part of the final blend then the program must be able to handle whatever abv the infusion finishes at. Thanks for this information as it confirms that whatever the strength the infusions can be, I do need to increase the limit to cope with liqueurs that are actually produced.

For the spirit used in maceration, I would imagine all the way up to GNS/Neutral level. Most lay-discussion on the internet focuses on using vodka, but that's only because 190 proof neutral spirit is only available to the public in some 36 states, and even then it might be a bit more difficult to find.

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Thanks to @Silk City Distillers and @captnKB for the replies. The 40 mass% that I chose was an arbitrary number and I definitely have to raise this limit.  It makes sense to raise it as far as possible and I will have to spend a day or two squeezing my data to see how far I can take it and still get reliable answers.

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On 2016/08/29 at 6:01 PM, captnKB said:

If there is any way I can help provide additonal data please let me know

Thanks very much for the offer - I will certainly contact you when I need help.

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  • 1 month later...

I think most people just use extracts - they are simple to work with.  However, we use raw ingredients so I'll throw my 2C in.. While I'm sure people do use very high proof spirits for maceration, I can't recommend it from my experience.  Depending on the product, I'll start as high as 60% (although this is rare).  This is partially to compensate for the water in my ingredients which can lower the proof up to 7-10%.  

When making your program you'll have to allow for brix and water variables.  A given lot of apples or kumquats won't have the same sugar and water concentrations year in and year out, or between suppliers, or varieties.  

I can't say I'm a shining example but basically we do everything by weight and it's a bit of "guess n check" since the water, sugar, and wax concentrations vary in our honey (small scale producers/batches).  Each batch is pretty close to the same but we have to tweak them. I'll weigh the batch, bench still for ABV, then add reducing water and start over.  I've gotten pretty good at it but I'm not willing to put that down as SOP... 

I'd love to hear a better method.  

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@nabtastic- thank you very much for your comments. I am pleased to hear that it is best not to use very high strength spirit for maceration.  I have been able to increase my data for the strength of the spirit to around 70% while still maintaining accuracy, but I wouldn't like to push it much further.

The way the program has been set up is that after the maceration stage the proof and sugar loading would have to be measured and keyed into the calculator. The blending calculator is now working and if you would like to see a couple of screen shots of it in action they are available at
http://www.katmarsoftware.com/alcodenslq.htm

The quantities of the ingredients (and of the product) can be given in mass or volumetric terms - except for the flavoring and any dry sugar which have to be calculated in mass.

I believe that your iterative method of blend, measure and calculate is the only way possible. There are two factors that can speed this up and minimize the number of iterations necessary. The most important of course is the measurement stage. If you don't know accurately what is in the liqueur you cannot calculate what to add. Accuracy of measurement only comes with experience and care.

The second factor is the calculate (or re-calculate) stage. Hopefully my program will enable distillers to convert their accurate measurements into accurate calculations of what still needs to be added and allow them to avoid too much trial and error.

I still need to do a bit more testing of the program and to write up the Help system, but hopefully the release isn't too far off now.

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