THE CRAFT OF DISTILLING
A Brief History
Although often disputed, the origins of distilling can be traced back to China as early as 3000 BCE. Clay vessels unearthed during archaeological digs are thought to have been used for the distillation of rice wine into the first distilled spirit.
During the 9th century however, things changed. Distillation was developed into its modern form with the invention of the alembic by alchemist Jabir Ibn Hayyanin around 800 C.E. He is also credited with the invention of numerous other chemical apparatus and processes that are still in use today.
Alembic Distillation Apparatus
The invention of the alembic distillation apparatus was a huge step forward in alchemy and distillation in general and lead rise to the industry as we know it today. Commercial distilleries, with more sophisticated distilling techniques, were operating as early as 1640 mainly producing Rum from cane sugar although distilled spirits were used as currency long before commercial distilleries were established.
Farmers of the age found themselves with an excess of grain and no way to store it for extended periods of time.
This meant distillation was a very attractive method among farmers who could take their perishable goods and distill it into a spirit, removing the chance of spoilage, reducing the volume of the grain and producing a product that was, and still is in high demand – alcohol.
Today there is a resurgence of distilling in Australia, there are now over 200 distilleries operating in our great southern land and more spring up every year. This is opening up a whole new approach to spirits and bringing with it innovative techniques and unique styles.