Home Distillation of Alcohol (Homemade Alcohol to Drink)

Using Honey to make Spirits

Wal writes ...
    Bees collect nectar, which is mainly sucrose and 40-80% water. They process this using the enzyme invertase, and by evaporation into a product containing 18-20% water we know as honey:
    • Water 18%
    • Fructose 38%
    • Glucose 33%
    • Sucrose 1.5%
    • Maltose 7.2%
    • Higher sugars 1.5%
    • Minerals 0.2%
    • Total acid (as gluconic acid) 0.6% (pH 3.9)

    Mock Honey. Not to be outdone by bees, we can also process granular sucrose to make a home-made 'honey'. Here is a mock-honey recipe (a form of invert sugar syrup), based on the above, using 4 units of granulated sugar to 1 unit of water:
    • 2000g raw sugar (say 8 heaped cups). For a darker color substitute with soft brown sugar (1 cup)
    • 5tbsp. malt extract (maltose)
    • 500ml water (say 2 cups)
    • 6g or 1tsp. acid (a mixture of various - tartaric, citric) or juice of 2 lemons. A pH of 3.6 is equivalent to 6g of citric acid/litre or 1tsp.
    Boil water, add acid and sugar and simmer for 15 minutes. Cool. When cool add 1tbsp raw sugar (sucrose). This produces about 1 litre of mock-honey syrup. SG of honey is 1.5kg/l.

    You could infuse dried flowers (camomile, roses, citrus flowers) to provide a floral aroma. If you are making a heavily spiced mead, and you want to save money, the recipe is appropriate.

    For low technology brewing techniques using honey, as still practised in East Africa, see "Honey Beer" http://www.fao.org/docrep/w0076e/w0076e08.htm
    For brewing using honey as practised in Medieval times, see "A Guide to Mead" http://www.pbm.com/~lindahl/articles/guide_to_mead.html.

    "Spirit of Honey", distilled from a honey mash, consisting of 1 part honey to 5 parts water is mentioned in "Delightes for Ladies" by Sir Hugh Plat, 1609

    Vikings made mead and sometimes added honey to malt when making ale. In Tudor times a mixture of honey and ale fermented together and spiced with pepper was called 'braggot'. Prior to hops the herbs (gruit) used to flavor ale included bog myrtle, rosemary, yarrow, alecost.

    For making mead or a honey mash see "Mead" http://consumer.lallemand.com/danstar-lalvin/InFerment/Mead.html Honey is basically an invert sugar lacking in nutrients and the advice on nutrients is useful. The addition of acid is not recommended. Also "The Basics of Mead Fermentation" http://consumer.lallemand.com/danstar-lalvin/InFerment/Mead_Basics.html Another good site is "An Analysis of Mead Making and the Role of its Primary Constituents" http://www.solorb.com/mead/danspaper.html Also "Mead" http://www.fao.org/docrep/w0076e/w0076e07.htm

    Honey Liqueurs:
    Found 3 German honey liqueurs that use Mexican Yucatan honey - "Barenjager","Barenfang", BarenMet" - http://www.schwarze-schlichte.de/produkte/honiglikoer_met.htm The Polish firm "Polmos" makes a honey liqueur called "Krupnik" and "Medos" http://www.honeyvodka.com/ingredients.html

    Honey is used to sweeten and flavor whisky liqueurs "Drambuie", "Glayva", "Irish Mist". "Stag's Breath" is a sweet mead fortified with whisky to liqueur strength. In Portugal "Brandymel" is a brandy flavored with honey. For those who want to make their own honey liqueurs, here are several recipes:

    Krupnik (Poland)
    1 bottle of vodka (750ml)
    2/3 cup of water
    1 and 1/2 cups honey
    1/4 vanilla bean
    1/4 nutmeg
    3 cinnamon sticks
    1 strip of orange or lemon peel

    2 whole cloves
    Combine honey with water, spices in a large saucepan. Bring to boil, cover and simmer for 5 mins. Add vodka, remove from heat. Serve hot or cold.

    Poland and Lithuania were part of a Commonwealth, which explains the similarity of the names - Krupnik, Krupnikas.

    Krupnikas/Viryta (Lithuanian)
    1 litre alcohol
    4 cups of water
    900g (2lbs) honey
    2 tsp caraway seed
    10 cloves
    10 whole allspice
    4 sticks cinnamon
    2 sticks vanilla
    2 pieces ginger
    2 pieces galangal
    10 cardamon seeds
    1/2 nutmeg
    3 strips lemon peel
    3 strips orange peel
    1 pinch saffron
    Boil spices until water reduced to 2 cups. Strain. Pour spiced liquid into honey and stir. Add alcohol. Allow to cool.

    Spices for Polish Mead (5 gals or 20 L)
    hops - 2ozs (50g)
    1 tsp ginger
    1/2 stick cinnamon
    1/2 stick vanilla
    pinch of nutmeg
    6 cloves
    2 peppercorns
    lemon peel
    orange peel

Honey Mash

One of our Utah mates recommends this. Ferment for 75 days and distill. Said to taste great and the mash comes to about 18% alcohol.
  • 5 lb of honey
  • 4 gallons water, with
  • some yeast and
  • a little lemon juice..

Mead Brandy

Jacks recipe for Mead Brandy ...
    I think this would be close to the ancestral roots of Krupnik (the honey sweetened vodka). First step: make mead
    • Per gallon (4L)
    • 3 pounds of honey
    • one TEAspoon of yeast nutrient
    • one TABLEspoon of acid blend
    Dissolve everything in the water - then pitch a dry champagne yeast (I prefer Lavlin's K1V-1116 over the EC-1118 because the '18 tends to develop a stale, brackish taste over time that can follow into the spirit). Once fermented till dry - distill twice in a potstill or just go by taste in a reflux still.

    It's good as a clear spirit, but I prefer to water it to 40 to 45% and age it on a quarter teaspoon of charred American oak until it gets a Glenmorangie (10 year) gold color. This takes maybe a month in the bottle. Age it at this lower strength as vanillins tend to interfere with the honey aroma of the spirit, and the bitter - sweet taste of this wood tends to balance well with the honey - the sugars in the wood that are extracted at this low strength also tend to smoothen out the spirit.
For more on mead : http://consumer.lallemand.com/danstar-lalvin/InFerment/Mead.html

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