Monday, December 27, 2021

How to Distill: A Complete Guide from Still Design and Fermentation through Distilling and Aging Spirits

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How to Distill is a concise and well written guide to stills, fermentation, and the processes involved in making and aging spirits written by Aaron Hyde. Released 21st Dec 2021 by Quarto on their Harvard Common Press imprint, it's 224 pages and is available in paperback and ebook formats. 

This is such an information dense and useful book. I've been brewing for years and although I've brewed apple and plum wines, mead, and other potables, distilling spirits has always been something I wanted to explore "later". I was discouraged because the laws around distilling (for consumption) seemed so antiquated and complex, and the process so involved that I never got anywhere. The author systematically explains the process step by step. He also briefly (very briefly) explores some of the legalities involved, but most of the content is given over to the distillation process: mashing, fermenting, distilling, polishing (filtering), aging (maturation), blending & bottling. Following chapters contain recipes for spirits such as vodka, gin, schnapps, rum, & whiskey. 

The book is beautifully illustrated throughout with clear color photos and understandable text. The appendices include tutorials for understanding and making flavor diagrams, choosing and sourcing equipment, and some online e-tailers and information/instructional websites. There's also a short glossary with useful terms and explanations. 

Five stars. Readers will need to research their own local laws to avoid running afoul of the government, but as for the actual process of fermentation and distillation, this book has got it covered. The book's slant and recipes are for potable spirits, and apart from the basic process, folks who are looking for essential oil, fuel oil, or other non-drinkable distilling will need to look elsewhere. This is a good place to start though. 

Five stars. I especially liked the updated modern equipment overview and explanations.

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher for review purposes.

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