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sufficiently volatile. Thus for botanicals macerated without subsequent distillation (eg. in colored absinthe production) other approaches are required in addition to GCMS, such as UV-visible spectroscopy, which can detect extracted colors and tannins. Another approach that we are actively exploring is the development of near-infrared spectroscopic calibrations for key botanicals. The advantage here is minimal sample preparation and analysis time and has found utility in the quality control of other agricultural commodities. Once a reference material has been prepared it should be stored appropriately. Careful thought needs to be given to the storage volume of a sample, and it is strongly advisable to divide up material into several containers to minimize contamination and oxygen ingress by repeated opening and closing. For instance, for GCMS analysis, a small sample (100 – 1000 μl) in sealed vials restricts oxygen ingress and is highly compact. Brown-colored vials are useful for reducing light-induced degradation, although in some instances these vials are brown due to the use of iron(III) in the glass, which can be a strong oxidizing agent that has the potential to degrade the oil content. For samples required for sensory analysis, larger volumes are generally required, although 5 – 10 ml of oils1 should be sufficient, in the context that gin and absinthe contain around 100 mg and 1.5 g/l oils. For intact solids, a sample of 100 g should be sufficient for work-up to a final reference standard. Whilst it is challenging to prepare a flavor reference library, the benefits can be significant, contributing to the selection and use of botanicals for the production of premium quality distilled spirits. We are currently exploring how such a precompetitive library might be established for the benefit of distillers producing botanically-based distilled spirits.

Paul Hughes, Ph.D. is assistant professor of food science and technology at Oregon State University in Corvallis, OR. For more information visit www. or call (541) 737-4595.

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1  A rough calculation based on typical recipes and the published oil contents of the common botanicals.


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Profile for Artisan Spirit Magazine

Artisan Spirit: Summer 2019  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.

Artisan Spirit: Summer 2019  

The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.