The growing interest in distilling has created a market for the reprints of old books on distilling. This is one such book. The book dates to 1906 and was originally published by Spon & Chamberlain of New York and E.& F. Spon of London. The book was marketed to those who wished to get into the distilling business, not only for beverage purposes, but also for making alcohol that is de-natured for use as fuel for engines as well as heating and lighting. It should be remembered that in 1906, there was a large portion of the population who did not have electricity and depended upon lamp and gas burners for light and heating and cooking. The book contains a lot of useful information that can be applied to the distilleries of today, but the publishers of the reprint do print a warning that many of the processes as described will not meet today’s safety standards.
Distillation of Alcohol and De-Naturing. F.B. Wright, Bradley, Illinois, Lindsay Publications Inc., 1994. Contents, Preface, Index, Illustrated. 271pp.
F.B. Wright wrote a book that strives to explain what a person would need to make a modern distillery and how to make alcohol. His chapters break down this information into subjects of interest. They are straight forward subjects starting with “Alcohol, Its Various Forms and Sources”. He follows this with the following chapters: “The Preparation of Mashes and Fermentation”, Distilling Apparatus”, “Modern Distilling Apparatus”, “Rectification”, “Malting”, “Alcohol from Potatoes”, “Alcohol from Grain, Corn, Wheat, Rice, and Other Cereals”, “Alcohol from Beets”, “Alcohol from Molasses and Sugar Cane”, “Alcoholometry”, “Distilling Plants, Their General Arrangement and Equipment”, De-natured Alcohol, and De-naturing Formula”, and finally, “De-naturing Regulations in the United States”. Each of these chapters give a description of the process and equipment and will usually have one or more illustrations pertaining to the subject. There are also charts dealing with some of the processes.
The book is well laid out and information is easy to find. The table of contents lists subjects found in the chapter in order of discussion for those wanting general information. For more precise information, there is an index in the back that can lead you to specific pages in the text. The chapters are well written and you do not need a degree in chemistry or engineering to understand what Wright is describing. The illustrations are clear and a number or letter will indicate specific parts of equipment and Wright refers to those tags in his description.
I think this is a book that should be part of every distilling library. It is dated due to the fact that it is over a century since it was written and equipment has changed. However, the process of that equipment is virtually the same. The book has value to understanding those processes for those who wish to enter the industry. The book also has historical value as historians look at the processes and how they have changed. The book is a classic and it is a good thing that it has been reprinted for use in today’s distilling industry.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller