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Author: Subject: What makes liquor taste like rubbing alcohol?
NaK
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[*] posted on 26-4-2021 at 06:15
What makes liquor taste like rubbing alcohol?


For real this is something i am wondering for quite some time now but have not been able to find any answer. There is a very noticeable rubbing alcohol/IPA like taste especially in cheap branded liquor and also in a lot of liqueurs. What actually is that and why can they remove it/not make it in premium liquor but it is present in a lot of products?

[Edited on 26-4-2021 by NaK]

[Edited on 26-4-2021 by NaK]
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njl
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[*] posted on 26-4-2021 at 06:21


Preface: I don't drink. But I'm guessing it's just a lack of other flavors masking the bite of the alcohol. At least in the US, it's illegal to add artificial alcohol to liquors (meaning they can't dump in ethanol to increase the strength) so the taste is probably not coming from something artificial. It's just that the biting scent/flavor is common to lighter alcohols.



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Praxichys
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[*] posted on 26-4-2021 at 07:31


"Fusel alcohols" are commonly formed as side products when fermenting anything other than clean sugar. This is why things like corn mash for whiskey must have the distillation heads discarded to eliminate as much methanol as possible, a byproduct of the relatively dirty fermentation, to prevent poisoning.

Common side products include:

isoamyl alcohol
2-methyl-1-butanol
isobutyl alcohol
1-propanol

and to a lesser extent

isopropanol
1-butanol
1-pentanol
1-hexanol
2-phenylethanol

To keep costs down, cheaper brands don't bother redistilling or charcoaling to get the gasoline flavors out. Subsequently they give you wicked hangovers and that nasty smell on your breath and sweat the day after. The short answer is that unpleasant "biting" flavors are usually from other compounds in cheap alcohol.

Also note that the reason rum, vodka, and sake taste different despite supposedly all being "neutral" alcohol is because of the palette of side products generated while fermenting sugarcane, potatoes, and rice, respectively.

[Edited on 26-4-2021 by Praxichys]
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[*] posted on 26-4-2021 at 10:00


Also worth noting that many brands of vodka (and gin) use neutral grain spirits, generally mass produced from corn, as a base. The quality in terms of levels of off-flavors thus depends on how much time is put into purifying it, by fractional distillation and/or activated carbon filtering. Then they dilute it with water to the desired proof, and in the case of gin, steam distill the cleaned up spirit with botanicals. Look carefully at a bottle of vodka and you'll find that even many "craft" brands don't do the fermentation step themselves, and are essentially just refineries of mass-produced grain alcohol.



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clearly_not_atara
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[*] posted on 26-4-2021 at 10:57


IIRC, alcohol produced by the hydration of ethylene is legal for food use if it's pure enough. Behold! Synthetic food! :D



[Edited on 04-20-1969 by clearly_not_atara]
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[*] posted on 29-4-2021 at 23:01


The dillution water is also extremely important. Traditionally russian vodkas were superior because russia had two things the rest of europe did not have as much of.
1-a natural soft water source (it was one of their major rivers i dont recall which)
2-birch forests, birch charcoal can approximate activated carbon.

Then the 20th century happened and all of that became mute.
Grey goose uses oxygenated dilution water.
If you get AR eThanol and some milliq water its actually rather horrible,l fromma mouth feel perspective. I think influences the way it tastes also but thats highly subjective.
Whoever spelt it out earlier was right in that theres a line, those that carbon filter and those that dont. After that vodka is simply a con, ffs its annual 'best vodka awar d s are 50% based onnpackaging design and not blind tatsed...ha!
Gin follows shortly thereafter in the con game, its boranicals added as essential oil blends, not some meticulous pot distillation with feesh bo tr anocwl m droped in by the basketful as they wojld have you believe. In fac t most juristictions have no prerequistive condition for calling something a gin, it could be a beer...and its legal to call it gin.
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Panache
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[*] posted on 29-4-2021 at 23:23


Quote: Originally posted by clearly_not_atara  
IIRC, alcohol produced by the hydration of ethylene is legal for food use if it's pure enough. Behold! Synthetic food! :D


I have a long standing pet project that i will never realise but is fun to muse about. I want to live for ayear on a diet entirely produced from fossil fuels, largely synthesied by myself. I call it a very crude diet.
Interestingly the vitamins are not the greatest challenge, its the volume of calories, but i had never consided ethanols calorific value , some trace mineral a r e simply impossible also.
The point of it is to underscore fossil fuels value as a feedstock and also because im a natural contrarian. Nothing stupider than those people who one week go to a climate challenge rally then the next week to an anti gmo rally, ITS THE SAME SCIENCE!
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[*] posted on 30-4-2021 at 12:30


Quote: Originally posted by Panache  

If you get AR eThanol and some milliq water its actually rather horrible,l fromma mouth feel perspective. I think influences the way it tastes also but thats highly subjective.


A while ago the lab where I work had a taste test of various kinds of bottled water, tap water, and MilliQ (ultrapure water, for folks who don't know). MilliQ was the only one that tasted different, and it had a nasty sort of sour taste. I think it's due to the lack of any buffering whatsoever.




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[*] posted on 30-4-2021 at 13:40


Now, I had a buddy that used to produce water for his own drinking, that was totally delicious.

Might have deionized it, forced it through a carbon filter, then distilled it.... discarding the distillate forerun , and the dregs. Marin County; famous for "dirty" tasting water.

That MilliQ water is just deionized. What other weird crap is added to the water during the process is unknowable, but it seems you can taste it and it is nasty.

Back in the days when I worked in a college chem lab, de-ionization was kind of a new thing.

Apparently some ions are removed and some...perhaps not.

Our de-ionized water, routinely tested as being Ph 5.

And, no.... We did not drink it.

[Edited on 30-4-2021 by zed]
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[*] posted on 1-5-2021 at 07:33


Quote: Originally posted by zed  

Our de-ionized water, routinely tested as being Ph 5.

And, no.... We did not drink it.


Yeah, it should be pH 5 due to dissolved CO2. That's normal for DI water.




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