ABV of Alcohol containing Sugar

Hi - we take HS Gin and add water, sugar, colouring and citric acid using a formula to make a RTD solution at aprox. 40% ABV. Is there anything out there which is relatively cheap which will measure the ABV. I see information on doing this with a Refractometer and Hydrometer, but just for beer, wine and cyder. Another option is lab analysis which is hugely expensive and slow. There must be a simple way to do this... Can anyone help.

Comments

  • You can get spirit versions of Refractometers and Hydrometers, check out Stevenson Reeves products, the more expensive ones are HMRC friendly. There is also the Anton Paar Snap 41 which is a lot more expensive.

    How are you auditing your strength now for HMRC purposes?

  • edited October 2

    Depending on how much color and citric acid is added, you should be able to gauge the alcohol content prior to the addition of sugar, and then use Alcodens to calculate the precise weights of alcohol, water, and sugar necessary to hit 40% ABV very accurately.

    You will need to do all of these steps by weight, not by volume.

    Using software like Alcodens LQ will make this significantly easier.

    You can confirm your final ABV by distilling first, than gauging, the US TTB good online tutorial video that explains the process. You need to distill because the sugar, citric, and color will obscure the true proof.

  • And it is really simple, take a known volume (750ml) distill it to 100c/212f, take the distillate and put it back in same container, and add distilled water to the same volume and temp (for obvious reasons, do not use weight, LOL) and proof/gauge it... done...

  • RTD @ 40%? Not what we call RTD in Australia, usually like 6%.

    StillDragon Australia & New Zealand - Your StillDragon® Distributor for Australia & New Zealand

  • RTD - Ready To Drunk

  • Hi - thanks for help and comments:

    @geoff400 I spoke 3 times to Stevenson Reeves (last conversation yesterday) and they have nothing suitable except for "The Revenue Still Complete Thorpe Type" which they cannot give me any guidance on its use. The problem is because it has sugar added. Currently I only make gin and this is easy to measure alcohol content as is vodka of course.

    @grim will look closer at your advice.

    @CothermanDistilling - yep I think this is basically what the revenue still does, this is probably the answer for me. Will take a closer look at this also.

    Thank you all, will post again when I have done a bit more research. Sorry for delay getting back - new to this forum stuff...

  • Hi @geoff400, forgot to say Paar Snap 41 will not measure alcohol content when sugar is present.

  • @CothermanDistilling your distillation method sounds so simple, is it very accurate. Could you possibly elaborate on the process a little - sounds like a little revenue still would do this. I do have a 2 litre glass still which I am sure would also do the job, problem is I don't want to use a litre of flavoured gin to test every batch. We produce very small batches. - Thank you

  • trust in math and god

  • Disclaimer - I am the author of AlcoDens LQ mentioned above. I may be biased ;)

    There are two separate aspects to the question of how to determine the ABV if there is sugar present. There are the technical problems of how to get an acceptably accurate answer, but if you are making product for sale there is also the aspect of performing the analysis in a manner that is compliant with your local authorities. If you are in the USA then you have to use the TTB methods referenced by Grim.

    An important concept to keep in mind is that (for a particular temperature) the ABV, sugar content and density (SG) of the spirit are inter-dependent. What I mean by this is that if any two of them are known, then the third is automatically determined. The importance of this for distillers is that while the measurement of the ABV and sugar content are fairly slow and consume some liquor in their measurement, the measurement of the density is quick and consumes no product (or a few ml if you are using an electronic density meter). Therefore, if you measure the density and either the ABV or sugar content then you can calculate the missing value. This is useful if you are producing for your own consumption or for intermediate blending calculations that are not subject to TTB approval. If you are producing for sale then the final product must be gauged using the TTB method.

    The sugar content can be determined if you have an accurate scale using 25 to 50 ml of product and evaporating it to dryness. Combining this with the density (and temperature) will give you the ABV.

    On to your question regarding the accuracy of the TTB distillation method. It is accurate as long as your alcohol and sugar levels are not too high. How high is too high? It is hard to put fixed limits on them, but if you find that in repeated runs on the same product the ABV results vary significantly then the alcohol is probably too high. If you find that the residue after evaporation is very sticky and thick (making it very difficult to clean the flasks) then the sugar is too high. The answer to both is to use a higher dilution ratio than recommended by the TTB. I have written some comments about it on the ADI forum.

  • @Ginspiration said: CothermanDistilling your distillation method sounds so simple, is it very accurate. Could you possibly elaborate on the process a little - sounds like a little revenue still would do this. I do have a 2 litre glass still which I am sure would also do the job, problem is I don't want to use a litre of flavoured gin to test every batch. We produce very small batches. - Thank you

    The TTB has elaborated it, I simplified it... they have videos showing the process with a lot of extra information.

  • Thanks everyone - @katmar and @CothermanDistilling will look closer at distillation and evaporation. There really is a wealth of knowledge out here.

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