Originally By Tony Ackland
BlendingJack writes ...
If consistancy (and reproducing your best batches) is becoming a problem- try a fractional blending system, like the Solara system used for sherry, and Jerez brandy in Spain.
The easiest "home method" is like this: set up three bottles of your favorite spirit. One to drink, one to blend, and one to age/store. When the "drinking" bottle gets half full, refill it from the "blend" bottle, which is then refilled from the "aging" bottle. Never let the "drinking" bottle get more than half empty before refilling it. This way, the batches will be linked in their flavor, allowing for consistancy. When the "storing" bottle is empty- you make another batch.
It will take roughly 4 refills of the "drink" bottle before the spirits' flavor profile is markedly different- since you are drinking it as it slowly changes, you won't notice, only someone who tries the batch at the begining, and then again, after the first bottle is emptied would notice a change. "House" spirits you are fond of always having on hand stay more consistant this way- it also works for wine and cider.
Jack offers the following suggestion ...
I've been doing some more reading on how commercial spirits are produced and I think I may have found something that Nixon/Stone still owners may find usefull. As you may already know, not too many large producers of spirits just distill, age, then bottle. Somewhere in between these stages is where blending takes place. For spirits like rum, instead of just distilling to a high proof then cutting it back with water to make a light style, many distilleries either make (or buy) a 95% "base blending spirit" that has no flavor, they then add certain amounts of a spirit distilled to a lower proof, say, 50-70% alcohol. If they add a lot of the low proof spirit they get a "dark rum", if you only add a little you get a "light rum".
If someone were to run a batch of sugar alcohol through a good reflux still, and get it up to 95% pure, they could set this aside (undiluted), and then using a pot still (or with the collection valve wide open on an NS still), they could run of a 10% mash of grain (for whiskey) or molasses (for rum), and only distill it to about 50%. Then by adding various amounts of 95% spirit you could get a dark, heavy rum/whiskey, or a light version of the same drink (how much water you add is up to you).
From what I have seen this would beat any "flavor essence" on the market, while providing a spirit that is cleaner, and less likely to give a hangover because any where from one-fourth to three-fourths of the final spirit was made from pure ethanol. It would also add yet another way to "tinker around" with the hobby distillers favorite drink-from what I've seen this would be a welcome added step to the production of spirits, because it allows for something that is unique- a "house style" for the hobbyist that can be changed easily.