Making Liquers and Infusions


| 2/17/2017 10:38:00 AM


Blackberry vodka 

Wouldn’t it be nice to present your guests with a glass of home-made schnapps to round off a home-grown and home-cooked meal ?

Well yes, maybe, but legally almost impossible. Even in France, where I spend a lot of time and the attitudes to alcohol are a lot more relaxed than in the Anglo-Saxon world, making schnapps only becomes worthwhile if you have a great deal of your own fruit, and are extremely creative when you report to the authorities how much you made. Otherwise the tax you have to pay (yes, I know. tax on what you have produced yourself) becomes prohibitive.

Burning schnapps is not actually that difficult, practically, but it can be dangerous if you don’t know what you are doing, which is one of the reasons why it is so restricted. John Seymour talks about how Indians living in the foothills of the Himalayas used to burn their illegal hooch in such a way as to evade detection by the British authorities, who predictably took a pretty dim view of such self-reliance. I’m not recommending anyone try this at home!

You take a large vessel, filled with wine or whatever other weak alcohol is to be distilled. This you put over the fire. You invert another vessel, this one slightly smaller, over it, to form a large, domed lid. Floating on the surface of the wine, like a small boat, is a third vessel, this one much smaller. The idea is that the alcohol, which has a lower evaporation temperature than water, will turn to vapour, condense on the domed lid, and drip into the smaller vessel.



Now, if anyone from the authorities should come passing, you have no still, just a large bowl of wine, which is perfectly legal, a large empty bowl, maybe for doing your dishes in, and a smaller bowl, upside down on the floor in a corner somewhere. I don’t know what was in it. The cat knocked it over. Again, I mention this because it is interesting, that’s all.



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