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Arak - posted for Roger

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  • Tony & Elle Ackland
    Can anyone help with Rogers attempt to make an authentic Arak ....Its a bit beyond my experience ... *********************** ARAK IS THE NATIONAL ALCOHOLIC
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 1, 2000
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      Can anyone help with Rogers attempt to make an authentic Arak ....Its a bit
      beyond my experience ...

      ***********************

      ARAK IS THE NATIONAL ALCOHOLIC DRINK OF LEBANON.

      IT IS A DISTILLATE FROM GRAPE ALCOHOL AND ANISEED SIMILAR TO OUZO
      BUT WITHOUT SUGAR AND GUM MASTIC ADDED.

      I HAVE TRIED WITHOUT SUCCESS TO DUPLICATE THE FLAVOR OF THE
      IMPORTED ARAK FROM LEBANON WHICH HAS A LICORICE ODOR AND FLAVOR.

      I'VE BEEN USING A RECIPE FROM LEBANON BUT WITHOUT SUCCESS.
      RECIPE IS AS FOLLOWS: CRUSH GRAPES ,ALLOW TO FERMENT
      COMPLETELY,DISTILL ALCOHOL,CLEAN POT STILL AND RE DISTILL ALCOHOL WHICH
      I RUN THROUGH ACTIVATED CHARCOAL,RETURN ALCOHOL WHICH IS ABOUT 150
      PROOF TO THE STILL ADDING ONE THIRD THE VOLUME OF ALCOHOL, WATER PLUS 2
      POUNDS OF ANISEED PER GALLON OF ALCOHOL . WHAT I GET IS A DISTILLATE
      THAT IS 170 PROOF WHICH IS DILUTED WITH DISTILLED WATER TO 100 PROOF. IF
      PROOF IS LESS THAN 100 ,ARAK TURNS MILKY.

      THE ODOR AND FLAVOR ARE OF ANIS NOT THE SAME AS THE IMPORTED 100
      PROOF ARAK.

      I'VE HAD BOTH IMPORTED AND MINE CHROMATOGRAPHICLY ANALYZED
      WHICH YIELDED TWO PEAKS ON THE GRAPH IN IMPORTED ARAK THAT WERE MISSING
      IN MINE.

      THE ONLY FLAVORING AGENT USED IS ANISEED NO LICORICE.
      LOCALLY THERE IS A PRODUCER OF ARAK WHO BLENDS 190 PROOF
      ALCOHOL AND ANIS OIL WHICH IS THE SAME AS THE IMPORTED ARAK.

      MY QUESTION IS WHY DON'T I GET THE DESIRED RESULT? DO I HAVE TO
      GET A CLEANER AND HIGHER PROOF ALCOHOL TO BE SUCCESSFUL? IS IT POSSIBLE
      WITH POT STILL?

      I FAILED TO MENTION THAT I DON'T USE ANY SUGAR WITH THE CRUSHED
      GRAPES.

      **************************
      to which I replied ...

      Sorry, I don't know if I can help you. I think maybe the clue might be the
      two missing peaks. This would suggest that there is some other compound in
      the oil that you're not obtaining from the aniseed.

      Do you know how the oil is produced ? Could it be by a low temperature
      distillation, or say by vacuum distillation ? This might change what
      compounds are extracted.

      Is there any aging of the Arak required ? - for example the presence of
      wood changes the composition of various esters etc in whiskey over time, as
      does the slight diffusion of oxygen through the wood cask sides.

      Is all aniseed the same ? Could they be using a slightly different variety
      ? Or preparing it slightly differently - eg crushing it, or removing the
      seed casing or something .... ?

      How long do you soak the aniseed before distilling it ? would leaving it
      for longer make a difference ?

      Dare I suggest you try using a little licorice and seeing if it has the
      desired result ?

      **********************
      with the reply back .....

      **********************

      The aniseed is kept whole and is soaked in hot alcohol in the
      still the day prior to distillation.

      The recipe from Lebanon states that the best aniseed to use comes
      from Damascus, Syria. I don't think this a factor because ouzo has the
      licorice flavor and aroma,and I'm sure that it's native.

      I've tried using licorice and aniseed together without
      success.

      The local blender uses anis oil produced in Spain.

      My sister lived in Lebanon and sent me some aniseed from
      Damascus which didn't produce the desired result.

      I have tasted many samples of arak made in villages in Lebanon
      (not commercial)they also lack the desired flavor and aroma.

      It was suggested by a distiller consultant that I blend asiseed
      oil with the alcohol instead of distilling together.The oil of anis
      didn't disolve completely probably due to lack of 190 alcohol.

      Ouzo is only 80 proof yet stays clear.If I reduce my arak below
      100 proof it turns milky. I may be mistaken ,but I think that this
      indicates that there is plenty of anis oil to give desired result.

      I have had a more detailed chemical analysis which identifies more
      components in greater detail

      I forgot to mention , to my knowledge there is no aging of arak in
      wood .I am told that it is aged in pottery crocks for a month. I've
      tried to this to no avail.This doesn't seem to be a factor because the
      local blender doesn't age his arak which I tasted as it is being
      bottled.
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