hist-brewing: Cordials

Elizabeth England-Kennedy lizek at antioch-college.edu
Mon Jun 30 10:26:09 PDT 2003

Distilling is illegal throughout the US, I believe. there are also
gallon-limits on the amount that home-brewers can produce annually. (I'm
at my office right now & don't have the exact # at hand.) However, brewing
wines / meads, melomels, etc. / beers, ales, etc. is legal as far as the
Feds are concerned as long as it isn't a home business (hence the gallon
limits). States and counties can set "local" rules that are more strict,
however (e.g., the "dry counties" in parts of Midrealm). I am not sure why
you have not been able to compete -- at the Pennsic I attended, for
example, homebrew tastings, etc. were held, and I believe a workshop on
brewing (though I might be misremembering). I am newly-moved to Middle, so
I don't yet know how the intricacies here work. Is it possible that the
event(s) you're describing were in /allowing for "dry" regions? -- Liz
(Lady Aisha Khalima)

obsidian at raex.com writes:
>     Well, in theory I could agree, but in actual practice the 
>distillation of alcohol is entirely illegal in the USA without very 
>expensive and extremely difficult-to-obtain licensing. I don't know how 
>they do things in Calontir, but in the Middle, where I am from, 
>presentation of home-distilled products at an A+S fair isn't permitted, 
>since it is illegal. So I would be unwilling to deduct points on the 
>basis of maceration vs distillation.
>     I would have to disagree that blending flavours is a lesser skill -
> demonstrating a knowledge of period herbs, spices, and fruits, 
>blending them in a precise fashion so that no one overwhelms any of the 
>others, balancing all that with sugar levels - all these 
>accomplishments are at an advanced state of knowledge.
>     And, for the record, I never use vodka - I've seen no 
>documentation for it's use in period medicinals or cordials, while 
>there is plenty of documentation to support wines and brandies. 
>Everclear I don't even want to discuss.
>Bruce R. Gordon
>(Forester Nigel FitzMaurice - Middle Kingdom, SCA)
>> On the subject of Cordials. Several of us in Calontir (SCA) have been 
>> discussing that Cordials might better belong in the cooking category 
>than in 
>> brewing. If for no other reason than the fact that most of the 
>cordials that 
>> we see are someone adding some flavor to a pre-existing alcohol base. 
>> It is hard to say you made a cordial when you added fruit to 
>Everclear. You 
>> didn't "brew" anything. Strictly speaking, you had nothing to do with 
>> creation of the alcohol what so ever. That would be like saying you 
>> coffee this morning when really all you did is grab a cup of coffee 
>> QuickTrip and added sugar and cream. Hence you didn't make it. You 
>> to taste, which isn't the same. 
>> However, if you made the wine/alcohol, and then distilled the alcohol 
>> the base, and then made that into a cordial, then I would be 
>> I did that several years back with pineapples. I took fresh fruit, 
>made that 
>> into a wine. After a year of aging, I took the wine and freeze 
>distilled the 
>> water off. Then I added cloves, cinnamon, ginger, and nutmeg. . . It 
>> out heavenly. Much better than any vodka/everclear based cordial. 
>> At the very least, on scoring cordials in competitions, points should 
>> deducted/not awarded for using an pre-made alcohol base. 
>> Rory
>> PS- As for the research, you are correct, cordials were medicinal 
>> (basically) the Renaissance.
>> PPS- This comes from a recent War (SCA) in which several people 
>handed me 
>> Cordials to try that they had "made."
>> On Mon, 30 Jun 2003 09:43:51 -0400, Bruce R. Gordon wrote
>> > Greetings
>> >      I've been involved in much the same sort of research - you are 
>> > correct, "cordials" as we use the term really don't start to emerge 
>> > much before the 15th-16th centuries. (1st appearance of the 
>> > word "cordial" in an alcoholic sense in English is in the Prologue 
>> > of Chaucer's Canterbury Tales).     For what it's worth, try the 
>> > link below - it's a short paper I did some years back on a 13th 
>> > century concoction. There are links at the bottom of that file 
>> > connecting you with a few other papers I've done on the subject. 
>> > have bibliographies. The collection of papers should give you at 
>> > least a sense of what's out there, and some pointers as to where to 
>> > head next.
>> > 
>> > http://web.raex.com/~obsidian/spcwine.html
>> > 
>> > Bruce R. Gordon
>> > 
>> > > I'm doing some research on cordials during the 1200's. I've 
>> > discovered that 
>> > > as a drink for pleasure, cordials did not really exist but there 
>> > some 
>> > > drinks that were used in a medicinal capacity that could be 
>> > considered cordials 
>> > > now. But I have not been able to find any recipes or 
>> > Could 
>> > > someone please point me in the right direction?
>> > > 
>> > > Jim
>> > > 
>> > 
>> > -- 
>> > Ex Tenebra, Lux
>> > 
>> > http://web.raex.com/~obsidian/index.html
>> > 
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