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High Proof alcohol


jhlurie
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Not that I'm looking to get messed up, but I'm curious... is there ANY form of high proof alcohol that's actually WORTH drinking besides the noticeable effects on your nervous system?  Alcohol, of course, in not naturally a good tasting substance in quantity.

I'm supposing there may be a few high proof Rums and schnapps out there that qualify...

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Most spirits are over 80 proof. A quick look at my cabinet confirms that most malts and whiskies are 86 proof (43 percent alcohol) and most brandies and vodkas are 80 proof. I beleive Bourbon must be 100 proof to be bottled in bond, but I wouldn't bakc that up with even a friendly bet. Anyway, I assume jhlurie is referring to alcoholic beverages in excess of 50 percent alcohol. I recall a 151 proof rum. I believe it's principle function was to float on top of drinks to provde the fuel for a flaming tourist drink.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

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I believe the 151 proof also functioned to make killer drinks for serious alcoholics, students and tourists seeking to loose their inhibitions. You could mix it with fruit juice and still have an eighty proof drink.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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What about absinthe which has about 60% alcohol and has an anise flavour apparently. It also comes with the additonal active ingredient of thujone with is a neurotoxin and will kill you if taken in sufficient quantities.    

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Quote: from Andy Lynes on 3:02 pm on Aug. 8, 2001

What about absinthe which has about 60% alcohol and has an anise flavour apparently. It also comes with the additonal active ingredient of thujone with is a neurotoxin and will kill you if taken in sufficient quantities.    

That's actually cool in a stupid pointless self-destructive kind of way!

I wonder... I never actually went into the Old Absinthe House in New Orleans, but I had a drink from there on the street.  I wonder if their version of the Hurricane had absinthe in it?

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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Absinthe is totally illegal in this country. Its been so for decades. You can find it however abroad, especially in eastern europe.

There are substitutes however that have the same anise-absinthe flavor. Like Pernaud for example.

Hurricanes arent made with that.

Jason Perlow

Co-Founder, The Society for Culinary Arts & Letters

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Absinthe is sold in my local Asda supermarket, which is now owned by an American company which escapes my mind at the moment, at around £40.00 a bottle. It is also sold in a numner of pubs and bars in Brighton. No fatalities as far as I know.  

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  • 3 weeks later...

What about eaux-de-vie?  I'm not sure of their proofs, but they are certainly "hot".  While I can't say that any that I have had are "delicious", some have an incredible finish and lingering pure fruit aftertaste.  One I particularly remember is Bonnie Doon's (California) Prunelle, which was made from a combination of plums and apricots, I believe.  Of the dozen or so people I shared it with, there was definitely a love or hate reaction to its startlingly unsweet taste.

eGullet member #80.

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Oh the English language. What do you mean by "hot?" Tell me and I'll define "delicious." ;-) I guess delicious implies a certain mouth filling lusciousness, which certainly doesn't apply to any high proof alcohol. Anyway, do you mean hot as in raw alcohol burn on the throat, or trendy? They generally run at 80 proof or more. I hope they aren't becoming trendy as they're expensive enough as is. At least the good ones are. The smoothness of these is dependent on catching the middle of the distillation which has the least harsh components and the most flavorful. So the best, as usually seems to be the case, it the most expensive since a great deal of the distillate is allowed to escape unbottled.

I find the aroma of many to be quite enjoyable, but the finish, as you say, is the attraction. Poire Williams seems to provide the most value. Other fruits are often much more subtle and cost more to make. I'll have to keep an eye out for the Bonny Doon. Someone recently asked for a recommendation for an American eux-de-vie to bring to a Frenchman. I could only think of Clear Creek from Oregon which I have not tasted. They brought a bottle of a Wild Turkey special bottling instead.

Back in January of '96 we visited an artisanal distiller south of Agen. He offered a lengthy tasting and lessons in the appreciation of eaux-de-vie. A description of that visit is on the WorldTable site. It's worth the trip, but I'd call first to see if he's still operating and I'd consider staying at his B&B, if you taste as much as we did.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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"Hot": I guess I was given this description years ago when I was first introduced to Chartruese.  Yes, I guess it would mean that feeling of lava in the throat.  

I will check out your eau-de-vie producer from your site.  Would this be a play on the concept of restaurant avec chambre?  The location sounds promising/convenient.

Re tasting these kinds of products, I mention again the wonderful Fermier Show in Paris in October (20 through 22).  There were a handful of producers of this kind of product, all more than willing to share information and samples for comparison, including 20 year old calvados.  (Can you tell that on our visits it's museums after you eat?)

eGullet member #80.

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back to the original question....yes, I think many spirits taste great, but the preference is an aquired one (much like the taste for beer).

During warm weather I love limoncello, either straight from the freezer or over crushed ice (have to make it myself since there's no good stuff available here in Oregon). When it turns wet and gray, I switch to bourbon or good brandy.

And Clear Creek does make several eau-de-vies, including a great pear.

olive oil + salt

Real Good Food

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I've got a friend down in eastern Virginia that runs a farm and host's a yearly BBQ bash.  He is what used to be described as a "Gentleman Farmer."  He has persued many hobbies and will try pretty much anything.  I like to think of him as a jack of all trades and a master of a good many of them.

Well, to get this on topic, a couple years ago a friend of his came across an old 10 gallon still at an antique auction and figured my buddy might be interested in producing some "adult beverages."  After months of research both online and on paper, as well as many in depth "experiments" he came into his own!

Now there are going to be many folks who simply will never be able to get past the 80 proof barrier as far as the sensation of high alcohol content has on the mouth and throat.  If this is the reason for the start of this thread I can only state that "no there are no good tasting high alcohol drinks."  For those who have developed a taste for these drinks there are any number of flavorful concoctions from single malt scotch, many brandies and such (Goselings Bermuda Black Rum - Heaven!) and some liqueurs.  But this stuff perfected by my farmer friend was unbelievable!

I went to college in West Virginia, so I am well aquainted by the local product referred to as "shine."  It generally serves as a utility to achieve a certain state of intoxication and the nuances of flavor are rarely much of a consideration.  In other words it's usually pretty foul.  The stuff produced down in the Tidewater by the "Hobbyest Artisan" was as smooth if not smoother than a sip of cool Absolut vodka.  He has experimented with various bases such as corn, barly, apples and has made eu de vie with the leftovers of his wine production.  My favorite was a batch made from peach squeezings.  He generally runs the first distillation at slightly over 170 proof.  At this stage just putting a drop to your lips sucks all the moisture from your mouth and it can be somewhat of a fire hazard.  His farm has naturally soft artesian well water, and when cut down to 90 proof or so with it, his "beverages" are some of the finest distillates I've ever sampled.  The peach liquor as I said was ultra smooth with just the barest hint of sweet peach flavor.  Unfortunately I only get to sample the results of his current labor of love but once a year...   :-(

(Edited by markstevens at 10:16 am on Sep. 6, 2001)

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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the 80 proof barrier
My barrier would be at 100 proof, which is 50% alcohol. Most Scotch whiskies run about 43% and French eaux-de-vie are commonly 40%, but I have an empty bottle of Framboise that was 48% and exceptionally smooth. Bourbon needs to be 100 proof (50%) to be "bottled in bond," or so I beleive. I do tend to splash a bit of water in my whiskies from time to time, but never in my fruit eaux-de-vie.

Brandies and whiskies are eaux-de-vie, as I assume is any potable alcoholic distillate. The word, or words, whisky and whiskey are derived from the Gaelic for water of life, which is literally what eau-de-vie means.

Robert Buxbaum

WorldTable

Recent WorldTable posts include: comments about reporting on Michelin stars in The NY Times, the NJ proposal to ban foie gras, Michael Ruhlman's comments in blogs about the NJ proposal and Bill Buford's New Yorker article on the Food Network.

My mailbox is full. You may contact me via worldtable.com.

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I had some white lightning once. It came in a mason jar with maraschino cherries in it. After about 6 months on the shelf, I opened it. It smelled like pure toluene. Who knows what results from such an uncontrolled process? I threw it out.

Although if I had a glass still with thermometers so I could control the fractionation, I might feel differently.

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Quote: from markstevens on 10:15 am on Sep. 6, 2001

Now there are going to be many folks who simply will never be able to get past the 80 proof barrier as far as the sensation of high alcohol content has on the mouth and throat.  If this is the reason for the start of this thread I can only state that "no there are no good tasting high alcohol drinks."

(Edited by markstevens at 10:16 am on Sep. 6, 2001)

I agree with Bux's estimation of 100 proof as the barrier.  My original question was actually a loaded one, since there are several 100 Proof schnapps and Rums that I've had that I've enjoyed.  I was originally fishing for more, although the discusion which evolved instead about ultra-high proof alcohols has been very interesting.

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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The farmer guy I was referring to uses a multi stage still with an intermediate "thumper" jar.  Each of the stages and the thumper are monitored with digital thermometers.  These are used to eliminate the possibility of methanol contamination and ensure the production of the highest quality ethanol.  Believe me when I say this guy doesn't get into anything half-assed...

=Mark

Give a man a fish, he eats for a Day.

Teach a man to fish, he eats for Life.

Teach a man to sell fish, he eats Steak

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Quote: from markstevens on 4:01 pm on Sep. 6, 2001

These are used to eliminate the possibility of methanol contamination and ensure the production of the highest quality ethanol.

Filtering out the old methanol contamination is good. :) Too much methanol does this:

<IMG SRC=http://www.egullet.com/non-cgi/avatars/ned.gif>

Just kidding! :)

Jon Lurie, aka "jhlurie"

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  • 2 months later...

Pardon  my spelling, but

Spirit - Toos... something like that

Just about grain alcohol...190+ proof I think...the polish population in Chicago drinks it...when I was younger and braver, we used to also.

You actually felt like you were going blind....

Worst tasting stuff is probably Ginger Brandy Extra Sharp or Vermox ( there was a weed in the bottle for flavor) ...I went to college in Wisc. and those were the standby initiation drinks...

Relatively newbie lurker who truly enjoys all these boards..thanks to all

Tom

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Here in Scotland I can drink single malts straight from the barrel, at a local club. They are all well over 100 proof (55-65% alcohol), as they haven't had water added to them like bottled whisky. They are very drinkable, although I tend to add a little water to some.

Having said that, I use 75% alcohol to "fix" tissue samples. So that may explain the slightly raw throat I have after drinking the stuff all night!

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