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Full Version: Modern Filteration vs Distillation
The Fée Verte Absinthe Forum - The Oldest, Largest, Most Authoritative Absinthe Forum. > Absinthe & Absinthiana > Dr Magnan's Lab
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kyle
Historically Absinth was made by distillation. This is because Distillation is a means of filtration and creating a clean product. Today modern filters exist to produce the same product but without the distructive effects of distillation. The result is that absinth made by modern filters is superior to absinth made by distillation which is actually an inferior method of filtration due to the destructive effects of heat and boiling on the compounds released by the herbs into the alcohol in the production process. In short, absinth made the "vintage" way is inferior as the herbal properties are destroyed or decreased by distillation, and absinth made using modern filters is superior as those herbal properties are maintained during the filtration.

All "real" absinth is made from herbs, water and alcohol, this is the mascerate, the difference is how this macerate is treated to produce the final product: is it filtered or distilled.

Just because distillation was used in the past as a means of filtration, doesn't mean it is the best in today's world. At the time absinth was being distilled, it was also normal for a Doctor to have order a preson bled by leeches to cure an ailment.

I hope this will led to some debate about treatments of macerates to produce a final product. I believe it is provable that modern filtration is superior to vintage distillation.

Kirk
Yes but filtration separates things by size,
where distillation separates them by boiling point.
Do you have a filter that separates molecules according to how volatile (boiling point) they are?
That would be an amazing development in
the science of filtration.
AndrewT
I think the only way you'll be able to prove this is by offering a filtered product to be sampled side by side with the best distilled products available. I'll give you the benefit of the doubt and assume you're referring to some very new kind of filtration that hasn't been used on any commercially available absinthes yet.

Of course, a miraculous way of creating quality absinthe without distillation would be a great way for the HG market to take off, but I have serious doubts about the quality of modern filtration as compared to distillation. Even with the most modern technology, distilled water is still considered more pure than filtered water
Lord Stanley
I wouldn't call distillation a method of filtration but a method of extraction. During maceration, some of the components in the herbs dissolve in water while others dissolve in the alcohol. The distillation more or less separates the alcohol soluble compounds from the rest and leaves many undesirable ones like the bitter absinthins behind in the pot. I do not see how filtration could accomplish this same result.
justabob
I just picked up a pack of these "modern filters", I am trying one as we speak in my mister coffee.
Grim
QUOTE
The result is that absinth made by modern filters is superior to absinth made by distillation which is actually an inferior method of filtration due to the destructive effects of heat and boiling on the compounds released by the herbs into the alcohol in the production process.

I'm not convinced. There is more to the quality of an absinthe suisse extract, produced in congruence with historically proven methods, than the fact that it is distilled. Even among those spirits produced through distillation, there's good and bad. And I've never had a "mascerate" that could be compared with even the poorest of oil mixes.

Do you have an opinion on distillation conducted in vacuo?
crosby
Filtering absinth can only improve it.
The Green Spirit
het.gif
hartsmar
I'm currently laughing my ass of here... I'll get back on this one later, after I stop laughing.
Ari
What modern day filter can sort substances based on boiling point, without actually boiling them?

What exactly are the destructive effects of distillation?

What are, "Herbal properties"?

Do any "unreal" absinths exist? (ones not made from herbs water and alcohol)


Leeches are still used in modern medicine. Although I don't see what doctors did has anything to do with how well distillation works compared to modern day filters.
Zman
The only way to really know is to have a side by side blind comparison between a Jade product and one of these Bairnsfather "absinths." I know where I'm going to put my money.
hartsmar
Seriously, it would be lovely to see an absinth that truly did compare to a high grade "french or swiss" absinthe. I'd love to compare them, and if there are any samples to be had, bring them on.

However... I think I know exactly what's coming out of this...

Hiram
Every time I read that first paragraph, my head explodes.

I... I... I just...

Oh, nevermind.
hartsmar
But hey... Making absinthe the "vintage" way is just plain wrong.. Oh yeah, it's laughable. It's down right wrong.

Come to think of it, if everything about absinthe is so wrong, why bother trying to duplicate it.

You could just label your bottles "Green Shitè" (but drop the "e" in the end, to be 'authentic'), put some floaties in it, enhace the KungFushone levels in your ads and be filthy rich.

Or wouldn't that work?
Hiram
I've said it before: scruples is the only thing between me and certain wealth.
Ari
The odd thing is that the bairnsfather site seems to claim they use traditional methods with modern equipment. Yet in this post Kyle seems to be suggesting that that will give you an inferior product.
Gertz
QUOTE (justabob @ Apr 17 2005, 03:54 PM)
I just picked up a pack of these "modern filters", I am trying one as we speak in my mister coffee.

That distilled coffee they used to make in the old days really sucked.
Hiram
It was bitter!
morgueann
Zman, maybe it's all of the acid I used to drop,
but every time I look at the picture in your
avatar I see a different animal. It's downright freaky.
First it's a dragon, then it's a tiger, then it's a dog,
then it's a twisted snake, then it's a kangaroo,
then it goes back to being a dog. . . . Either that's
a true piece of art there, or this is just downright freaky. blink.gif
G&C
Remember his old one?

It WAS freaky.


It looked like it was changing right before your eyes!
Hiram
It's a dog. His name is Dominic.
Lord Stanley
QUOTE (kyle @ Apr 17 2005, 09:33 AM)
The result is that absinth made by modern filters is superior to absinth made by distillation which is actually an inferior method of filtration due to the destructive effects of heat and boiling on the compounds released by the herbs into the alcohol in the production process.

At least the Bairnsfather won't taste burnt™.
thegreenimp
Nothing like reading this thread while drinking a diet Dr. Pepper, and having a nice nasal douche, between spraying the monitor with diet soda.


I gotta get that plexi-glass monitor sheild.
BigMike
QUOTE (kyle @ Apr 17 2005, 03:33 PM)
Just because distillation was used in the past as a means of filtration, doesn't mean it is the best in today's world.  At the time absinth was being distilled, it was also normal for a Doctor to have order a preson bled by leeches to cure an ailment.

Today medicinal leeches are used as tools in tissue grafts and reattachment surgery. Not only do they secrete anitcoagulants to prevent blood clots and relieve pressure due to pooling blood. It appears that leech saliva has other therapeutic properties. Leech saliva helps reestablish blood flow to reattached body parts by means of a vasodilator, provides a numbing anesthetic, and lessens the risk of infection due to an antibiotic.[1]

[1]Full text

If it aint broke, don't fix it.
Breson
This lovely glass of filtered bourbon I am enjoying says he might be right. And to think all this time all I needed was a bottle of grain and a can of creamed corn. w00t2.gif
Lord Stanley
...and a new, improved filter.
justabob
Well Kyle, why don't you sent out some samples to some of the more learned members of the forum as other manufactures have done.

It would then be scored using our standard score sheet method.

If you are confident you have a quality product you will then be vindicated.
Hiram
QUOTE (Breson @ Apr 17 2005, 03:52 PM)
This lovely glass of filtered bourbon I am enjoying says he might be right.

Good point. If "filtering" is so superior to distilling, you'd think that liquor manufacturers around the world would have clued in by now. But what do they know? They're still using that old, outmoded distillation filtering.
Lord Stanley
To play devil's advocate for a minute, there is a distinguishing factor between producing absinthe and bourbon or most other liquors.

You don't need to create the alcohol when you make absinthe. It's already there at the start. You just use it to extract the desirable herbal contents. Theoretically, one could make absinthe without distillation if there was another way to extract those components and add them to 65% neutral alcohol. I suppose that would be an approximate and simplified description of an oil mix or essence based absinthe.

Since bourbon, brandy, gin etc. production starts with no alcohol, you can't really skip the fermentation and distillation processes. I'd love to see a filtration system that could turn potatoes into vodka.
Jaded Prole
You could buy gert strand but it still doesn't qualigy as absinthe and oils are too dangerous to mess with.

I like the old ways.
Perruche_verte
I hope Kyle takes us up on that sample challenge. Send it out and let the chips fall where they may. Without tasting it, we can argue methods of manufacture until we turn blue and not reach any conclusion.
Lord Stanley
I'll try it but I won't buy it.
Czech absinth will not get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to shelling out money.
If it's good then so be it.
Hiram
I may be wrong, but I'm under the impression that he's saying this is how Sebor is currently produced.
Ari
That's the way I read it too.

I also get the feeling that "Herbal properties" = chop.gif and superior = higher concentrations of ball trippage.
Lord Stanley
Except that he hasn't really said anything about how anything's produced. Some new filtration method is better than distillation. I can hardly wait to hear the details.

Who needs distillation for ball trippage? You only need one herb, some rolling paper and a match.
Selmac
Hey Kyle: Elaboration, please........?
Hiram
I doubt Kyle will be back. He knows we've got his number.

I wonder how he managed to get a hold of Sebor (if he did) after Martin died.

Interesting reading.
kyle
It is nice to see that there are actually intelligent people in this discussion. As those who simply denounce this discussion, you are the modern day equivalent of those who lambasted Copernicus who said the Earth wasn’t the center of the Universe, or Darwin, who proposed Evolution as opposed to Creationism.
Good question: What are herbal properties?

This gets to the root of the discussion. Herbal properties are those compounds that are released into the alcohol and/or water during the maceration. And let it be made know once and for all that ALL ABSINTHE IS STARTS ITS LIFE AS A MACERATE: AS A MIXTURE OF ALCOHOL AND HERBS. So to regard un-distilled absinth as a macerate and macerated absinth and un-distilled it false. A look at vintage absinth recipes will prove this. What should not be considered an absinth is alcohol mixed with essential oils and artificial colours, this is just crap.

Herbal properties are chop.gif, chlorophyll (not present in the final product of the distillation and is thus added before bottling by mixing green herbs with the distillate - see historical recipes), flavours, oils, etc. (See the Scientific American art. about absinth chemical properties.)

We know that chlorophyll is filtered (separated) by distillation, what else is also separated and not passed to the distillate? Could the final product taste better or have medicinal qualities if these compounds were not removed?

Good point about distilled water, as pointed out distilled water is pure H20, and nothing else, but drinking only distilled water would lead to health problems because there are trace minerals in water that we need , Humans didn’t evolve these last million years drinking pure H20. If the macerate used in Vintage Absinth is distilled enough, one could filter out / separate the ethanol from the rest of the mixture and be left with pure ethanol would that be considered Absinth?

I propose that by use of mass spectrometry to detect the levels of all compounds present in a macerate before and after distillation would provide empirical evidence of what is being filtered/separated. In addition, by filtering the same macerate and comparing its results from mass spectrometry would show which absinth has more herbal compounds.

Filters used during Vintage absinth, based on historical recipes were made of felt cloth, which is in turn made of pressed animal hair, also asbestos was used. In light of these two very unappetizing methods, distillation was by far the best method at the time, but times change.
Ari
Ok more questions,
-What herbal compounds do you think are being removed by distilling that would make the absinthe taste better?

-Do these modern filters also remove the things in absinth that makes it taste bad?

-How many people do you think drink absinthe for medicinal properties?

-And the most important question, would these new fangled absinths pass the taste test? (Obviously to be answered at a later date, unless samples are available now).


On a side, both Copernicus and Darwin were wrong when it came to the details of their respective theories, and also spent time searching for evidence so they wouldn't appear completely crazy. I wouldn't compare yourself to them yet.
BigMike
Ok I need someone who can supply me with some crude oil and one of these miracle filters. I'm fed up of paying for petrol (gasoline for the yanks)!
Jaded Prole
QUOTE
If the macerate used in Vintage Absinth is distilled enough, one could filter out / separate the ethanol from the rest of the mixture and be left with pure ethanol

Untrue. Without using a toxic "dryer" ditillation cannot get beyond about 98% ehtanol but it would still be absinthe.

More herbal content would not necessarily make absinthe better and may make it undrinkable, especially if the negative parts of wormwood are present and filtration alone cannot remove them, at least thus far.

Macererate may make "absinth" but it does not equal absinthe. Nevertheless, put your discovery to the test and, in the name of science, subject it to peer review.


By the way -- the question of whether this is Sebor was never answered. Is it or does your new concoction have a name?
Kirk
QUOTE (kyle @ Apr 18 2005, 03:40 AM)
you are the modern day equivalent of those who lambasted Copernicus who said the Earth wasn’t the center of the Universe, or Darwin, who proposed Evolution as opposed to Creationism.


You are comparing yourself to Darwin? That's like comparing Sebor to Jade.
kyle
Why would the Frankenstien absinth called Jade be elevated? No sees it for the over marketed farce that it is? No one has questioned the effects of age on detection of organic compounds claimed to be found and used to resurrect vintage absinth from hundred year old bottles? Everybody is obvivious to the fact that compounds breakdown over time thus a test of real vintage absinth would not reveal the levels of the actual ingredients when made?

I feel relieved that I am not in the same category as the naked emperor or those blinded by the spin, did you all also believe Sadam has WMD? Based on your blind faith in unfounded "facts" it would seems so.
Grim
Alcohols to aldehydes and ketones, aldehydes to acids, acids to esters. Compounds in a closed bottle of vintage absinthe don't appear and disappear at random. It's not spooky action that inferences can and are guided by physical data and a little proven science, Copernicus.
Grim
Two points you need to consider, Kyle. Nearly every historical reference, and those at present that guide the extraction of volatile oils in other fields recognize that there are methods to avoid that destructiveness of distillation that you initially mentioned. Duplais, de Brevans, Fritsch, Bedel, they all cite the benefits of utilizing a "Bain-Marie" and also extol the benefits of steam distillation. These methods can and do produce distillates that do not carry an empyreumatic or burnt character.

Plus, you completely avoided my question about distillation in vacuo...
Grim
Secondly, you need to consider that whatever method you use... whether it be by distillation, oil mix, or an abandoned macerate - the method doesn't amount to two shits if the final product tastes like ass.
Kirk
QUOTE (kyle @ Apr 18 2005, 10:29 AM)
Why would the Frankenstien absinth called Jade be elevated?......
Based on your blind faith in unfounded "facts" it would seems so.

It is a fairly simple thing to measure the effect of time on molecules, and any good research chemist can predict the compounds that will occur.
This has been discussed to death here.
What is even easier is using common sense and the platform of knowledge, built up by history.
You have made bizarre claims about special filters
that have not been invented yet.
You have a machine that will paint the Mona Lisa now?
Jade is put together the old way;
through original techniques, Ted has learned to use flavors like a painter uses colors.
Grim
I'd say buck up or shut up: provide samples of your product for comparison. Your filtrational-method-of-Oz is your own proprietary baby, especially if it produces the results that you've already claimed.

Another thing, don't assume that people have to deliver their faith unto the methods of Ted... distilled products have proven themselves to be superior in all other instances.
Kirk
Distilled products are the proof.
Grim
Hey! Look kirk...
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