Specialist Questions - Spirits, Essential Oils, Vinegar

Would you like to ask us about spirits, essential oils and vinegar? Please observe our forum rules (see Helpful tips for use).

June 2018:

It has now been an unbelievable 16 years (!) since the last major change to the website and forums. When you think that two to three years are an eternity for the Internet sector, that is really something. In any case, there has been so much going on in terms of technology that it has become urgently necessary to completely redesign not only the forums, but also the entire website, from scratch and bring the programming up to date. Naturally, along with this we also introduced various new features; for example it was high time we allowed pictures to be uploaded with a forum post too or enabled users to subscribe to the forums via RSS feeds. And of course we have subsequently included pictures that are saved on external websites and were then integrated here using an img tag, so that no valuable information is lost. In any case, we hope you continue to have fun swapping experiences and trying things out.

Juni 2002:

At this point, we would first like to extend a big thank-you to all the users of our specialist questions for their lively involvement. Without you, we could never have developed such an informative and high-quality reference guide in such a short time (the first post dates from April 8, 1999). The large number of posts and high numbers of visitors made it necessary for us to develop the specialist questions ourselves using PHP and MySQL (at last no more annoying advertising banners!). During the course of this, we have hopefully introduced several improvements.


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Helpful tips on use:

Below are a few rules so we can maintain the high quality in the future as well.
  • This is a moderated forum. This means that anyone can write whatever they want, and the post will also be saved, but the content will only be published once it has been reviewed by our editorial staff, or deleted if necessary. Therefore, there is no point in posting the same contribution multiple times simply because it doesn’t appear immediately.
  • If you would like to see the most recent posts (irrespective of the topic), click Show the latest posts.
  • The forum is very comprehensive, and many topics have already been dealt with extensively. Therefore we recommend using the search function or alternatively the advanced search function before you add a new post in order to avoid having posts with the same content.
  • After you add or answer a post, you then have a chance to change the text you have written. So read through your text again carefully after saving it and click on “Change post” if necessary.
  • If you ask a question, then also expect an answer. Think about this as well when you are wording your question. Hardly anyone will answer vague questions such as “How do I distil schnapps?”, “No oil comes out; what am I doing wrong?” or “The vinegar isn’t fermenting, why?”.
  • The three topic areas, i.e. distilling spirits, distilling essential oils/hydrosols and making vinegar, are divided into three different websites. Each website contains the two forums “Recipes” for all the topics concerning fruit and recipes, and “Discussion” for all the other topics related to distilling spirits, essential oils/hydrosols or making vinegar. If we find posts that are unintentionally in the wrong forum, we will move them to the right forum. These posts have not been deleted, just moved.
  • ANY TYPE OF ADVERTISING WILL BE DELETED WITHOUT EXCEPTION! This also means seemingly “innocent” posts such as “I have a question about...” or alternatively “Does anyone have experience with...” followed by links or pictures to any external shops.
  • The same applies to bizarre posts which most likely come from drunks or don’t have the remotest thing to do with the topic area, e.g. football or “Where can you burn CDs here?” They will be deleted without exception.
  • All forums are STRICTLY ANONYMOUS; so never give any real names or addresses.
  • Any attempt to make personal contact will be deleted immediately.  There are now numerous social networks for this purpose.
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So, that’s it. We hope you have a lot of fun swapping experiences, reading, posting and naturally also trying things out afterwards. Dr Malle & Dr Schmickl Dr. Malle & Dr. Schmickl
  • Question 6

    John | Texas, 24.10.2019 10:05:46

    I am looking for a small refrigerator so that I can follow your high grade mash recipe.  Our ambient temperature will not allow me to maintain the correct temperature for fermentation. 


    Take care, the temperature shouldn't be below approx. 16 °C (61 °F). Maybe it's better to use some kind of a small air condition, a maximum of 19 °C (66 °F), would be perfect.

  • Question 1

    bill | UK, 30.09.2019 14:19:46

    Is it possible to test the essential oil at home if it is fake or not?


    Quick ‘n easy test: one drop of essential oil applied on a paper towel will completely disappear after about 30 minutes to an hour, if the essential oil was no fake or diluted with fatty oil like jojoba oil.

  • Question 5

    Aram | Aremnia, 30.09.2019 13:37:58

    Recently I have been in Hungary and visit some distilleries who make Apricot Palinka by re-flux distillation. And I found that while their Apricot mash has flavor of Apricot but  distillate has Anise flavor. Even already diluted spirits with less alcohol volume were having this Anise flavor without any apricot flavor.
    As a Chemists in this field can you comment this matter? 


    Yes, the reason is quite simple: don’t use a reflux when distilling apricots. Most of the aromatic substances will not reach the condenser. Just read our book "The Artisan’s Guide to Crafting Distilled Spirits", ISBN: 978-1-943015-04-7 to learn how to get a rich flavoured and aromatic fruit brandy, or rather apricot brandy.

  • Question 4

    Zeb | USA, 27.07.2019 23:21:50

    In your book "The Artisans Guide to Crafting Distilled Spirits" copyright 2015 & sold here in the states, you mention the need to place thermometer measurement precisely at point of maximum steam temperature which you say correlates to the highest level reached by the steam. This you say is the "hot side" of the lower edge of the Lyne Arm wherre the steam flows over & into the Lyne Arm. I agree this makes perfect sense to me. However looking at your Classic & Delux Schmickle stills, the placement of the steam thermometer appears to be mounted into the still head at a much lower point than this however the "Vetro". model appears to have the steam thermometer mounted as you describe. I read your statement in the book saying "If the thermometer is attached lower down, you may encounter deviations of twenty degrees Fahrenheit (ten degrees Celsius) or more. Am I incorrect or wouldn't this placement cause issues with incorrect steam temperature readings? I am interested in purchase of your 7.8L deluxe model but this raises concerns with me.


    Yes, you're completely right, but the difference in height is only about 0.2 to 0.4 inch. This little difference is no problem regarding steam temperature. The other case, measuring about 0.2 to 0.4 inch too high would result in much too low temperatures. Since the head of the still is not under pressure, the steam flows to the line arm right after it has passed the lower edge, so just a bit higher than this height it's much colder than the actual steam temperature.

  • Question 3

    Ginny | London, 25.08.2015 20:48:12

    I want to make Gin just in small amounts for myself. How does vapor infusion work?

    thanks for your answer,
    This is quite easy: put the botanicals into a steamer basket and pour tasteless alcohol with approx. 12 % ABV in the kettle below the basket. The photo shows the mixture for 1.5 liters of alcohol. Our book contains a detailed recipe of the ingredients.

  • Question 2

    Seppi | Upper Austria, 25.08.2015 11:56:22
    Are rowan berries poisonous?

    Thanks in advance for your answer.
    Yes, if you eat them. But if boiling them not. So a rowan berry brandy is not poisonous.
  • Question 1

    Klaus | Styria, 25.08.2015 11:41:14
    What exactly is the "first runnings separating test"?
    This is a rapid test to detect if a spirit contains heads. The test results in three possible colors: yellow --> OK, light green --> fair, dark green --> not advisable to drink
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