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Encyclopedia > Fusel oil

Fusel alcohols, also sometimes called fusel oils, are higher order (more than two carbons) alcohols formed by fermentation and present in cider, mead, beer, wine, and spirits to varying degrees.

The compounds involved are chiefly:

Excessive concentrations of these fractions can cause off flavours, sometimes described as "spicy," "hot," or "solvent-like." Some beverages, such as whiskey, Siwucha and traditional ales and ciders, are expected to have relatively high concentrations of fusel alcohols as part of the flavor profile. In other beverages, such as vodka and lagers, notable presence of fusel alcohols is considered a fault. Very high concentrations - usually caused by incompetent distillation - can cause illness, including headaches, nausea, vomiting, clinical depression, or coma. Such a liquor may be referred to as rot-gut or rotgut.

Fusel alcohols are formed when fermentation occurs:

  • at higher temperatures,
  • at lower pH,
  • when yeast activity is limited by low nitrogen content.

During distillation, fusel alcohols are concentrated in the "tails" at the end of the distillation run. They have an oily consistancy, which is noticeable to the distiller, hence the other name fusel oil. In a reflux still they can be separated out almost completely if desired.

  Results from FactBites:
Fusel oil - LoveToKnow 1911 (297 words)
Normal propyl alcohol is contained in the fusel oil of the marc brandy of the south of France, and isoprimary butyl alcohol in that of beet-root molasses.
The chief constituent of the fusel oil procured in the manufacture of alcohol from potatoes and grain, usually known as fusel oil and potato-spirit, is isoprimary amyl alcohol, or isobutylcarbinol.
Fusel oil and its chief constituent, amyl alcohol, are direct nerve poisons.
Method for distilling ethyl alcohol by adding salt or salts - Patent 4362601 (4044 words)
In case the fusel oil is removed from the mash column, it is desired that the alcohol concentration be high at the upper portion of the mash column and the fusel oil be drawn out at the tray of 88.degree.
In this case, the fusel oil accumulates at a portion of the rectifying column where the alcohol concentration is 40 to 50 wt%.
Fusel oil 22 accumulated within the rectifying column 4 is removed by taking off the liquid having an alcohol concentration of 40 to 50 wt% into a separating tube 49 and discharging an upper layer of two separated layers.
  More results at FactBites »



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