hist-brewing: RE: Whiskey Before Distillation

Crystal A. Isaac xtal at sigenetics.com
Tue Aug 28 15:55:27 PDT 2001

Distillation was popularized in once printing was invented, as the
instruction were easier get. Europeans were using brandy as medicine and for
clean-burning spectacle fire much earlier than the 15th century.

I have no knowledge of freeze-distillation, sorry...A quick google.com
search came up with the following:

"12. Brandy and Whiskey: China, Seventh Century AD. The tribal people of
Central Asia discovered 'frozen- out wine' in their frigid climate in the
third century AD. In wine that had frozen was a remaining liquid (pure
alcohol). Freezing became a test for alcohol content. Distilled wine was
known in China by the seventh century. The distillation of alcohol in the
West was discovered in Italy in the twelfth century."

"Normal" heat distillation was common enough in Europe for it to mentioned
in various cookery and medical books.
For example:
Hieatt, Constance and Butler, Sharon. editors and translators. _Curye on
Inglysch: English Culinary Manuscripts of the Fourteenth Century (Including
the Forme of Cury)_. Published for the Early English Text Society by Oxford
University Press. London, England 1985 ISBN 0-19-722409.

"7	Aqua vite: that is to seie, water of liif. Fille thi viol ful of lyes of
strong wiyn, & putte therto these poudris; poudir of canel, of clowes, of
gyngyuer, of notemugges, of galyngale, of quibibis, of greyn de parys, of
longe peper, of blake peper; alle these in powdir. Careawey, cirmunteyn,
comyn, fenel, smallage, persile, sauge, myntis, ruwe, calamynte, origanum;
and a half unce or moorw or lasse, as thee likith. Poownd hem a litil, for
it will be the betir, & put hem on the houel, & kepe it wel that the hete
come not to it; & sette thervndir a viol, & kepe the watir."

There's more early references to making brandy, but this is the one I have
closest to hand. I think there is a hist-distillation list that would be
able to give you better answers than I can.


Crystal A. Isaac
"When marrying, one should ask oneself this question: Do you believe that
you will be able to converse well with this woman into your old age?" --
Friedrich Nietzsche

-----Original Message-----
From: Tim Bray [mailto:tbray at mcn.org]
Sent: Tuesday, August 28, 2001 3:30 PM
To: Crystal A. Isaac
Subject: Re: hist-brewing: RE: Whiskey Before Distillation

>I don't think the word "whiskey" (in all of its glorious spellings) goes
>back to before the invention of distillation (12th century?).

Distillation goes back that far??   I thought it was 15th century, at least
in Europe.

The only other way of getting a high-proof liquor would be freezing; anyone
know the earliest reference to fractional crystallization?


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