Originally By Tony Ackland
Arak or Raki
For a Greek "raki" alembic still see: http://www.paleochora-online.de/raki_eng.htm
Roger is still working on improving the following method for making Arak ..
Crush grapes, allow to ferment completely, distill alcohol. Clean pot still and redistill alcohol (which I run through activated charcoal), return alcohol which is about 150 proof to the still adding one third the volume of alcohol, water plus 2 pounds of aniseed per gallon of alcohol. The aniseed is kept whole and is soaked in hot alcohol in the still the day prior to distillation. Distill a third time.
What I get is a distillate that is 170 proof which is diluted with distilled water to 100 proof (if the proof is less than 100, Arak turns cloudy). It is aged in pottery crocks for a month. Another method is to blend 190 proof alcohol with anis oil (produced in Spain).
From http://www.chios.gr/products/ouzo_en.htm about Ouzo ..
Clearly disassociated from the local tsipouro (raki) and from souma (suma), which is mainly produced by figs. Chian ouzo is still distilled primarily in the small copper stills (kazania) of traditional family manufacturers.
The classic Greek drink Ouzo begins as alcohol made from grape skins or other local produce. It is then brought together with herbs and other ingredients, including star anise, coriander, cloves, angelica root and even cinnamon and lime blossom. The mixture is boiled in a copper still and regulated by a taster. The resulting liquid is cooled and stored for several months before it is diluted to about 80 proof or 40 percent alcohol. However, homemade ouzo can be a deliriously strong 80 percent alcohol.
Ouzo is usually served as an aperitif, but is also used in some mixed drinks and cocktails. When mixing Ouzo with water, it turns whitish and opaque. The reason is that the anise oil dissolves and becomes invisible when mixed with a conventional alcohol content, but as soon as the alcohol content is reduced, the essential oils transform into white crystals, which you cannot see through.
Wal writes ...
Arak, Raki, Ojen is distilled from grape pomace in alembic stills capable of holding 40-130kg. to which aniseed is added. I gather the proportion is approx. 500g/25l of wash.
Saw in 'Lebanese Cuisine' by Anissa Helou, 1994, on p.35 a method for Arak
Ouzo has other herbs and spices added such as coriander, cardamon angelica root, cloves, fennel, nutmeg, mastic, tillium flowers. It is usually distilled once (40% a.b.v.) or sometimes twice (60% a.b.v.). I suspect the aniseed was originally added to mask the roughness, as no thermometer was used to control the distillation.
In Turkey they now use shredded raisins (70% sugar), instead of grape pomace. To reconstitute a grape wash use 2kg unsulphured raisins/5l water. First they produce a raisin distillate to which aniseed is added (approx.100g/l of spirit) and a second distillation is carried out. Aniseed gives a 3% oil yield. Sugar and water is added and it is aged for a month. Arak (from grape pomace) is aged in clay pots for up to year & a 3% evaporation loss occurs. Anisette and Sambucca are sweet aniseed based liquers.
Jack writes ...
Here are my 2 favorite methods of making this drink:
1 (cheap, but very good:1 US gallon recipe)): soak in enough water to cover them (overnight) 2 pounds of raisins- after the soak, blend them into a mush in a blender, and pour this sludge into your fermentor. Add 1/4teaspoon of powdered tannin and one teaspoon of acid blend to the raisin sludge. Boil a gallon of water on the stove and dissolve 2 pounds of sugar in it, once the sugar is dissolved, and the water is boiling, pour the hot water onto the raisin sludge. Allow to cool on it's own, and when cool, add 1/2teaspoon of pectic enzyme, and yeast (I use Lavlin k1v-1116 in both of these recipes). Ferment till dry, distill when clear. Distill in a potstill (or a stovetop inverted lid chinese type still) to about 50% (the total run) stop if tails show up before this. Dilute to where you want it and drink (note-copper is essential in the still when making these drinks!!).
2 (fancy, great taste, not one you advertise, lest you have to share it. one gallon recipe). Soak 6 pounds of raisins overnight, blend into a mush, then add 1tablespoon of acid blend. Bring a gallon of water to a boil, and pour it hot over the raisins in the fermentor-no sugar is added (no tannin either- the acid blend is to balance the fact that table grape raisins lack winegrape varietal acidity, and tend to make a "flabby", one-dimensional brandy on their own). Once cool, add 1/2teaspoon of pectic enzyme and the yeast (same as above). Ferment till dry, distill when clear. Distill the same way as above.
Distilling in a reflux still with it's packing removed to lower effeciency also makes a great spirit from these two "wines"- By the way- no solids are put in the still- the wine is totally clear when it is distilled. It is best if the fruit wines (they are stable wines, capable of being aged and bottled, if you want) are allowed to mellow a bit before they are distilled (mine is a year old before it goes into the still). On their own, they make very nice dry wines with a sherry taste to them (I tend to prefer them distilled, personally).
Almost forgot, during fermentation, the raisin pulp rises to the surface. It will dry out and harbor bacteria if not broken up. You need to mash down and stir in the "cap" that the raisins form at least twice a day. Also, resist the temptation to boil the raisins directly- you can pour boiling water on them, but don't boil them on their own- the wine (and spirit) that comes out if you boil them tastes like Christmas pudding- pretty gross.
As a rough estimate this might be equivalent to 200 grams of aniseed for 1 litre of 40%abv or 1/2 tsp of aniseed oil/litre 40%abv assuming an essential oil yield of 1.5%.
In Tunisia the local specialties are 'Boukha' or fig brandy (eau-de- vie de figue) and a date liqueur called 'Thibarine' (possibly named after the Thibar mountains?). What about those contemplating to go to Morocco? 'Mahia' is the local Moroccan spirit. A 1848 source says that it is distilled from dates, although it could be a local generic name for an eau-de-vie made from various things. Like the Lebanese 'Arak' it is anise flavored. The Turkish 'Raki' which is similar to Arak was once made from grape pomace but these days is made from raisins. Mulberries were sometimes used also. "The restaurant sometimes has available mahia, or home-made l'eau de vie, the anise-flavored drink for which Moroccan Jews are well-known." 'Jewish Morocco' http://rickgold.home.mindspring.com/page17.html Dates are a good source of sugar (70%), so I decided to make my own Mahia using dates which I obtained at the equivalent of $US1.50/kg or about $US1/lb. A malt extract (70% sugars) costs double that price. I made a mash giving the equivalent of 300 g sugar/l, using Lalvin EC- 1118 yeast which can tolerate 18%abv:
Moroccan 'Mahia' (20 litres or 5 US gal)