What processes does the alcohol go through before it can be classified as high percentage in the end? Our interview partner Kur Sartorius, initiator and leader of the “Schwäbisches Schnapsmuseums Bönnigheim” (Swabian Hard Liquor Museum in Bönnigheim) shares his expert knowledge.
Picture Credits: left pricture: Brennblase, Helm und Geistrohr aus Kupfer (c) Schwäbisches Schnapsmuseum, right picture: Behrend Destillationsgerät mit Schlangenkühler, Kurzgefasste Anleitung zum praktischen Brennereibetrieb, 1885 (c) Schwäbisches Schnapsmuseum
BrüggemannAlcohol: What are the advantages and disadvantages of the still?
Kurt Sartorius: The advantage of the pot still lies in the resulting quality of the end product. Especially with fruit brandy, the aromas should be concentrated in the alcohol. This works better in the still than in the column. The helmet also has the advantage that it collapses the foam of the mash in a way that it does not get into the cooler and thus into the distillate. This would affect the quality and palatability of the product. For this reason, grain or potato mash is primarily distilled in the column.
BrüggemannAlcohol: Why is copper preferred for burning systems?
Kurt Sartorius: Copper is easy to work with or to bring into the required shape. The material proves to be a good heat conductor and very corrosion-resistant. Still, the main reason for choosing copper is because of its ability to bind sulfur. Such compounds are in the mash and without the chemical effect of copper, these compounds would pass into the distillate and affect its taste and quality.
If there is a person being entitled to call himself an expert of the history of alcohol, it definitely would be Kurt Sartorius, initiator und leader of the “Schwäbisches Schnapsmuseum Bönnigheim”. 44 years ago, he completed his first spirit distillery and henceforth intensively dealt with the history of alcohol. As a result, the distillery was to be turned into a local museum. Based on the recommendation by the state museum in 1985, the initial idea switched into the planning of creating a special museum. The already existing huge diversity of regional wine museums forced Mr. Sartorius to open up a schnapps museum (opening in 1993). Today Kurt Sartorius has Germany's largest alcohol history museum collection. In particular, distillation techniques, the development of alcohol history and illicit distillery are among his areas of expertise. In 2020 the “Schwäbische Schnapsmuseum Bönnigheim” was nominated for the German Berlin Spirit Awards of Tradition.