When used as a liquor flavor, honey plays a support role in the overall taste of products such as bourbon, dark rum or gin, or it can take a dominant position when used to flavor a vodka or in a sweet liqueur. When using honey as a flavor, an additional filtration will be required after the addition of the honey to the spirit to remove any honey components that are rendered insoluble by the alcohol content of the finished product. A filtration as tight as 5-10μm will remove these alcohol insoluble honey residues. The use of honey as a sweetener and flavoring agent for finished liquors is much more economical than using honey as the primary fermentation substrate. As a sweetener and flavoring agent, honey may be used at levels of up to 10%. The wide variety of tastes and aromas displayed by honeys of different floral origins offers distillers great opportunities to create unique and original flavors, especially when added to matured spirits or used in combination with other natural flavors and extracts. The versatility of the flavor of honey truly offers great opportunities for the distillers.
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HONEY CONSIDERATIONS: HEAT TREATMENT
Honey is easily fermentable, and in many cases, the all-natural sweetener is simply diluted with water, mixed with yeast and select nutrients and allowed to ferment. However, honey does have microorganisms that naturally occur. Since honey is highly acidic with a pH of 3.9, these microorganisms are dormant. However, some distillers may elect to pasteurize their honey by heating upon (or after) dilution with water. This helps control bacteria and wild yeast populations that could lead to reduced alcohol yields and a risk of off-flavors if left unchecked. There are other distillers, however, who choose to leave the natural microbial flora in the mix and avoid heat-treatment.
HONEY CONSIDERATIONS: STORAGE
Honey can be used year-round by the distiller, as it displays a high level of stability, especially when stored at room temperature in a dry environment. Honey stored in sealed containers can remain stable for decades and even centuries! However, honey is susceptible to physical and chemical changes during storage; it tends to darken and lose its aroma and flavor or crystallize. These are temperature-dependent processes, making the shelf life of honey difficult to define. For practical purposes, a shelf life of two years is often stated. Honey may crystallize and form a “granulated” semi-solid texture. This process does not denigrate the honey, and it can be returned to the liquid state by gentle heating.
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Distilled Spirits Council - http://www.discus.org/2016AnnualEconomicBriefing/ New York Post - http://nypost.com/2017/07/24/millennials-prefer-trendy-booze-over-beers-report/ 3 Techavio report - https://www.technavio.com/report/global-food-sweetener-market
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Published on Dec 14, 2017