Brandy / Commercial Distilling / Craft Spirits / Distillation / Extractions / Fermentation / History / Home Distilling / Legislation / Miscellaneous / Products / Recipes / South Africa / Spirit Enhancement
  • How do I Legally Distill at Home in South Africa? - Part 1: Stills

    How do I Legally Distill at Home in South Africa? - Part 1: Stills

    PLEASE NOTE: This is the first Article of Three, dealing with the Process of Legal Home Distilling. Please read all three Articles for a full idea on how it works.     Probably the most common question we get from clients visiting our store: Is it Legal to Distill at Home? This is followed closely by the second most common question: How do I...
  • Chasing the Green Fairy - Absinthe Facts and Fiction

    Chasing the Green Fairy - Absinthe Facts and Fiction

    Absinthe (The green fairy spirits) has shown a remarkable revival the last 20 years after having been banned in most of Europe for almost a hundred years. Although there were no legal definitions for Absinthe (except for Switzerland), until its inclusion into EU Liquor Legislation, there are very good guidelines on what makes a good, and what makes an inferior absinthe. Also, not a...
  • Chocolate Bourbon Balls Recipe

    Chocolate Bourbon Balls Recipe

    DISCLAIMER: Distillique does not believe in providing and selling recipes, as this goes against the Craft of producing your own products. The recipes we share have been sourced from clients and other sources, and as such, Distillique takes no responsibility and makes no guarantees regarding the quality, accuracy or safety of these recipes. Recipes are used at own risk, and are for the purpose...
  • Apple Pie Vodka or Rum Recipe

    Apple Pie Vodka or Rum Recipe

    DISCLAIMER: Distillique does not believe in providing and selling recipes, as this goes against the Craft of producing your own products. The recipes we share have been sourced from clients and other sources, and as such, Distillique takes no responsibility and makes no guarantees regarding the quality, accuracy or safety of these recipes. Recipes are used at own risk, and are for the purpose...
  • How Barrels Work and How to Care for them

    How Barrels Work and How to Care for them

    Oak barrels are more than just expensive liquid-tight containers that give oak flavor to spirits and wines.  They soak-up and breathe, flex, filter oxygen out of the air,  aid wine and spirit maturation and allows spirits to develop unique character. They flavor and color our spirits and allow the most volatile (and mostly unwanted) components of our distillates to ""disappear"". A brand new (first...
  • As a Craft Distillery, how do I work with the Department of Agriculture?

    As a Craft Distillery, how do I work with the Department of Agriculture?

    The Department of Agriculture’s Liquor Division is probably them most unappreciated and undervalued group of Government Employees in the country. Yes, a lot of people have bad things to say about them, and they get blamed for not allowing us as Crafters to do what we want, and to innovate and to be daring, but they have a thankless job. They are entrusted to...
  • What do I need to Register for with SARS as a Craft Distillery?

    What do I need to Register for with SARS as a Craft Distillery?

    SARS, or the South African Revenue Service, is currently the biggest challenge that faces Craft Distillers and Entrepreneurs in South Africa. There are various reasons why this is the case. Most people will point fingers and blame ineptness, laziness, corruption, etc. In my personal capacity however, I do not think that it is fair to paint all SARS employees with the same brush. There...
  • How do I get a License for a Craft Distillery in South Africa?

    How do I get a License for a Craft Distillery in South Africa?

        Getting a License for a Craft Distillery in South Africa is not easy, it is not fun, and it is not quick … but it can be done. The aim of this article is to give you an indication of the steps that need to be followed, the different organizations you will be dealing with, and everything else you need to do...
  • What Size and Type of Equipment do I need for a Craft Distillery?

    What Size and Type of Equipment do I need for a Craft Distillery?

        Selecting the right equipment for your Commercial Craft Distillery can be quite a task. We often get asked to provide a "standard Craft Distillery" quote, but the fact to the matter is that there is no such thing.     What do I need to know to Design a Craft Distillery? Our standard response to any Quote request is the following 6...
  • Innovating with Whisky in South Africa

    Innovating with Whisky in South Africa

    In a previous Article we looked at Whisky Legislation in South Africa, specifically the challenges it poses, and the restrictions we face. A question I often get from our Clients and Trainees is: “Within the laws and regulations, can I innovate with Whisky in South Africa, and how do I do that.” The answer to this question is YES you can, and in several...
  • The Challenge of Craft Whisky in South Africa

    The Challenge of Craft Whisky in South Africa

    Craft Gin has taken the world by storm, with literally hundreds of new brands, spirit producers and distillers flooding the markets of Europe, Africa, the Far East and Australasia. But this “craze” is nowhere near as big in the United States. Yes, there are Craft Gins produced and consumed in the USA, and yes there are some big brands coming out from those Northern...
  • Tips for Crafters to Grow Distribution in Pubs and Bars

    Tips for Crafters to Grow Distribution in Pubs and Bars

        Looking at the premium Spirit Category where Craft operates, over the past couple of years, even if we account for inflation and excise tax increases, Spirits revenue grew considerably, and is forecast to continue to grow annually. This refers to revenue. Volume on the other hands remains, at best static.      In times past the premium spirits market was dominated by a...
  • Factors to Consider to Increase the Perceived Value of your Product

    Factors to Consider to Increase the Perceived Value of your Product

    In an ideal world, our products will speak for themselves, value would be determined by quality and taste alone, and customers would pay accordingly. In an ideal world … But the world is not ideal, or fair, and we are faced with this little thing called Marketing and Hype that plays a role in determining the price of our products – or at least...
  • Micro Liquor Manufacturing Licenses - What to watch out for

    Micro Liquor Manufacturing Licenses - What to watch out for

    For some time now the whole South African Liquor License Industry has been chaotic. What issues have Distillers experienced with Liquor License Applications? If it’s not a question of waiting for inspectors (up to 7 months), then you have to deal with inspectors that don’t know what they are doing, or people blatantly holding you for ransom for bribes, or inspectors that have no...
  • Closed Cooling Systems and their Challenges

    Closed Cooling Systems and their Challenges

    More and more we receive inquiries regarding Closed Cooling Systems. This refers to a closed loop for the water used during cooling to minimize water use. The reasons for these requests and wish to minimize water use are varied, but can be for economic reasons (to save money), for ecological reasons (environmental awareness) or practical reasons (a local water shortage). Before we discuss the...
  • Monitoring Fermentations

    Monitoring Fermentations

    The continuous monitoring of fermentations is a common technique used in Beer Brewing and Wine Making to achieve specific results in terms of flavor, aroma, alcohol content, etc. In fermentations for distilling purposes however, we monitor the fermentations merely to ascertain the progress of the fermentation, to calculate the remaining sugar and to calculate possible yield or additional yield. We can also predict possible...
  • Failed Fermentations and Fixing Them

    Failed Fermentations and Fixing Them

    IMPORTANT – This Article refers to methods and information covered in two other Articles: 10 Steps to a Successful Fermentation, and Monitoring Fermentations. It is advised that you read these two articles first to fully understand the information below.   It happens, from time to time, that you have a failed fermentation. Sometimes we pick this up early, either by monitoring the release of...
  • Bacterial Infections in Fermentations

    Bacterial Infections in Fermentations

    Bacterial and mold Infections are unfortunate but not uncommon occurrences in fermentations, specifically grain, potato and other starch related fermentations. How do I know if I have a Bacterial Infection in my Fermentation? You can quite quickly spot a Bacterial Infection in your fermentation by the color change – the fermentation first going grey, then darker grey and finally black or a beautiful silky...
  • How to make your own Yeast Nutrients

    How to make your own Yeast Nutrients

    As explained in our Article about successful fermentations, Nutrients play a very important in Yeast propagation and fermentation. Among these nutrients there are two main categories, namely Macro and Micro Nutrients. What are Yeast Macro Nutrients? The first, Macro nutrients, are those that are required in large concentrations, and they include magnesium sulphate, di-ammonium phosphate (DAP), thiamine, hydro-chloride, calcium pantothenate, folic acid, niacin, ammonium...
  • Handy Sugar Calculations

    Handy Sugar Calculations

    Sugar is the most important chemical component in the production of alcohol and alcoholic products. No sugar, no fermentation, no alcohol. There are however certain situations where excessive sugar can be a detriment to our fermentation and products, as described in our Article about Successful Fermentations. We therefore need to know how much sugar we have, what that will give us in terms of...
  • Alcohol Poisoning First Aid

    Alcohol Poisoning First Aid

    You know the drill. In case of emergency, you should immediately call emergency services or the paramedics, and follow directives from the emergency responder. But even though this is an elementary instruction, many people disregard the importance of professional medical help, especially when it comes to alcohol intoxication, thinking that they can fix the problem themselves. It is very important to recognize the seriousness...
  • Responsible Drinking - The Two Types of Alcohol Poisoning

    Responsible Drinking - The Two Types of Alcohol Poisoning

    One of the dangers involved with the consumption of alcohol is Alcohol Poisoning. Not really new information. But what many people do not know is that there is actually 2 types of alcohol poisoning. The First Type of Alcohol Poisoning The first of these is the “garden variety” alcohol poisoning – excessive consumption of alcohol, although this should more accurately be described as consumption...
  • Essential Oil Extraction through Distillation

    Essential Oil Extraction through Distillation

    Essential oils are a hot topic these days, and we get a lot of inquiries as to the extraction of essential oils through distillation. What are the most common forms of Essential Oil Extraction? Essential oils can be extracted via two key methods: Distillation (includes hydro-distillation) and Expression. Several other methods also exist, but Distillation and Expression remains the two predominant ones. The History...
  • Barrel Aging and Maturation - History, Challenges and Crazy Ideas

    Barrel Aging and Maturation - History, Challenges and Crazy Ideas

    Recently I came across an interesting metaphor attributed to a Master Distiller: “Barrels are like naughty children. None of them behave as you’d like them to and although you love them all, there will always be a few which will be your favorites.” Is there a Relation between Marketing Buzz Words and Character? Marketers play on this with labels boasting ‘Distillers Selection’, ‘Selected Oak’,...
  • What makes one Distillery stand out from Another?

    What makes one Distillery stand out from Another?

    Note: The following is clearly a question of personal taste, but it is based on research conducted by students in Tourism Management who are focusing specifically on Spirits Tourism (and more particularly Spirit Tourism). What is Spirit Tourism? The definition of Spirit Tourism (in this discussion) refers to the visit of Spirit-related attractions which can be museums, distilleries or spirit events. In general, if the...
  • Interesting Botanicals to use in Gin

    Interesting Botanicals to use in Gin

    Unlike whisky which may be spelled whisky or whiskey in different parts of the world, gin is gin the world round. The name gin is derived from genièvre (French), jenever (Dutch), and ginepro (Italian), all of which mean “juniper”, and it dates as far back at the 13th century. In most cases (Jenever being one of the exceptions) the spirit is essentially flavorless before...
  • Recipe for Whisky Rusks

    Recipe for Whisky Rusks

    During every Whisky Course we like to mention to trainees the possible uses of the grain solids after Gelatinization and Conversion. Following his attendance, Chimpi Nortje took it one step further ... Thanks for sharing Chimpi Ingredients 3 packs (500g) self-raising flour 20 ml baking powder 10 ml salt 300g sugar 4 eggs (beaten) 500 ml buttermilk 250 ml milk 650 ml melted butter...
  • The Science behind Wooden Barrels

    The Science behind Wooden Barrels

    Of all of the species of hard wood in the world, there is a very good reason why we only use oak. As a member of the beech family, of the genus Quercus, oak has large radial grains of high density which grow straighter than the majority of other hardwoods making it perfect for tight cooperage. More importantly however are the natural chemical compounds...
  • Turning Waste Potatoes into Profit

    Turning Waste Potatoes into Profit

    Distillique regularly receives inquiries from individuals that want to explore the feasibility of different raw materials for use in producing spirits – mostly because they have easy or cheap access to those raw materials. This is specifically true for farmers, as fruit and vegetables that do not conform to market standards may still be successfully used for fermentation purposes to make spirits. One example...
  • The Benefits and Drawbacks of Custom Bottles

    The Benefits and Drawbacks of Custom Bottles

    Custom bottles can provide a unique look and provide large brand benefits, but Craft Distillers must evaluate the pros and cons. Everyone knows that your branding and packaging has to work hard on a retail or bar shelf in order to attract consumer attention. Custom bottles are a powerful way to achieve this end, especially when finished with complimenting packaging components like boxes, ribbons,...
  • Understanding Oak Barrel Maturation

    Understanding Oak Barrel Maturation

    If there is one thing that we all go a bit crazy for, it’s oak matured spirits. Even if you are not a big spirits lover, odds are good you’ve indulged frequently on other such oaked products like Balsamic Vinegar, Worcestershire or Tabasco sauces. For those who have discovered the world of a well-aged whisky, tequila, brandy, rum or fortified wine, a lot of...
  • Charring Levels in Barrels

    Charring Levels in Barrels

    Once a cooper has selected their oak type, barrel size and seasoning qualities they can then select which level of thermal degrading to apply to the inside of the cask relative to the liquid it will have in it and the desired character of that liquid. What is the difference between Toasting and Charring? The two most common types of thermal degrading are toasting...
  • How Barrel Storage Affects Barrel ABV

    How Barrel Storage Affects Barrel ABV

    Water molecules are small, Alcohol molecules are much larger. Since a water molecule is very small, it is easier for it to escape through the barrel than the much larger alcohol molecule. The atmosphere at the top of a barrel storage area is very hot and dry, allowing the water molecules to escape much faster than the alcohol molecules, thus driving the ABV up...
  • Books on Distillation and Fermentation

    Books on Distillation and Fermentation

    It happens quite often (at least two or three times per week) that clients, visitors and followers ask us to recommend a useful book to read regarding distillation. Personally, I find most books to be quite lacking, either focusing more on cocktails, brand stories and tasting notes, and less on the actual arts of distilling and fermentation or repeating too many marketing stories and...
  • Making Invert Sugar at Home

    Making Invert Sugar at Home

    Distillers use Invert Sugar to make proper liqueurs, Old Tom Gins, for Obscuration and for Mouth Feel Enhancement. Simple Invert Sugar Recipe To make 1 kilogram of Invert Sugar, you need: Extra Fine Granulated Sugar (think Castor Sugar) 1 kg Water 480 ml Citric Acid 1 g Invert Sugar Methodology If you have an induction cook top or an electric stove use these options...
  • Different Distillation Methods

    Different Distillation Methods

    The principle of distillation is simple. The important aspect remains the means of separating alcohol from an alcohol containing liquid. Alcohol boils at 78.3º Celsius at sea level while water boils at 100º Celsius. When an alcohol-water solution is heated to a temperature somewhere between the boiling point of the alcohol and the water (depending on the ratio of the liquids), alcohol-water solution starts to boil with more alcohol molecules vaporizing...
  • Distillery Waste Management Plan Template

    Distillery Waste Management Plan Template

    Note: Due to the limited knowledge of most officials (outside the Western Cape) involved in the granting of Micro Liquor Manufacturing Licenses, we tried to keep the wording of the template below as simple as possible. Distilling terms such as ""stillage"" has deliberately been omitted - simply because not all officials are familiar with them. Micro Liquor Manufacturing Facility for Spirits - Waste Management...
  • Small Batch vs Single Barrel

    Small Batch vs Single Barrel

    Confused between small batch and single barrel? A Practical Example Let us say you receive three barrels of Whisky, filled with distillate from the same batch. You decide to store one barrel in your basement, the second on your main floor, and the third one in your attic. Assuming you have no central heating, air conditioning or insulation, it is expected that you will...
  • Can you Build the Perfect Fermentation Water?

    Can you Build the Perfect Fermentation Water?

    Water quality matters. Not to the extent that some bottled brands would have you believe in their advertising, but it can have a large impact on yeast health, and hence on fermentation success. Recently, several of our clients have had trouble with water quality. This has often been the result of excess minerals or iron, especially in borehole water, or the result of excessive...
  • Soxhlet Extractors - Leaving No Aroma Behind

    Soxhlet Extractors - Leaving No Aroma Behind

    Soxhlet extraction was initially developed by Franz Ritter von Soxhlet, to extract lipids from milk solids. It has far broader contemporary uses, however, including in the biochemistry, food, and oil industries. The Soxhlet extractor is designed for exhaustive solvent extraction – the extraction of as much soluble material as possible from a sample. The Benefit of Soxhlet Extraction Only a small amount of solvent...
  • Extra Neutral Alcohol:  The Key Ingredient in Production of Alcoholic Beverages

    Extra Neutral Alcohol: The Key Ingredient in Production of Alcoholic Beverages

    Author: Swati Tamhankar  (Published with permission by Distillique) William Faulkner once said, “Civilization begins with distillation”. Today’s civilization sounds that. Known by several names such as neutral spirits, rectified alcohol, and rectified spirit, the extra neutral alcohol is prepared to form grain, sugarcane, corn, sugar beets, and other food materials. It is majorly used in the production of alcoholic beverages including vodka, gin, whiskey,...
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