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THE HISTORY
OF 7 SHADES VODKA

ABOUT VODKA

7 Shades Vodka is an alcoholic beverage distilled at a high proof from fermented corn mash. Proof is the measurement of the alcohol content. Each degree of proof equals a half percent of alcohol. Thus, 100 proof is that which contains 50% alcohol, 90 proof contains 45%, and so on. Because distilled vodka can have a proof as high as 145, all taste and odour has been eliminated, making vodka a neutral spirit. Water is added to bring the proof down to a range between 80 and 100.

Vodka's continuous stills usually contain three primary sections: still heads (where the vapours are collected), fractionating columns (where the ethyl alcohol is broken down), and condensers (where the vapours are reconverted to liquid). At first, charcoal filtration was the universal procedure used to purify the vodka. Then at the beginning of the twentieth century, the process of rectification was developed. In rectification, the spirits are passed through several purifying cylinders designed to eliminate dangerous imperfections such as solvents, fusel oil, and methanol. Water is added at the end of the distillation process to decrease the alcohol content.

Malt meal

Because vegetables and grains contain starches rather than sugars, an active ingredient must be added to the mash to facilitate the conversion of starch to sugar. These particular converted sugars, maltose, and dextrin respond most effectively to the enzyme diastase that is found in malt. Therefore, malt grains are soaked in water and allowed to germinate. Then, they are coarsely ground into a meal and added during the mash process.

Yeast

A microscopic single-celled fungus, yeast contains enzymes that allow food cells to extract oxygen from starches or sugars, producing alcohol. In the manufacturing of alcoholic beverages, the yeast species Sacchasomyces cereviseal is used. 

The Manufacturing Process

Mash preparation

1)  The grain or vegetables are loaded into an automatic mash tub. Much like a washing machine, the tub is fitted with agitators that break down the grain as the tub rotates. A ground malt meal is added to promote the conversion of starches to sugar.

2) Preventing the growth of bacteria is very important in the manufacture of distilled spirits. First, the mash is sterilized by heating it to the boiling point. Then, it is injected with lactic-acid bacteria to raise the acidity level needed for fermentation. When the desired acidity level is reached, the mash is inoculated once again.

Sterilization and inoculation

Fermentation

3)  The mash is poured into large stainless-steel vats. Yeast is added and the vats are closed. Over the next two to four days, enzymes in the yeast convert the sugars in the mash to ethyl alcohol.

Distillation and rectification

4)  The liquid ethyl alcohol is pumped to stills, stainless steel columns made up of vaporization chambers stacked on top of each other. The alcohol is continuously cycled up and down, and heated with steam, until the vapors are released and condensed. This process also removes impurities. The vapors rise into the upper chambers (still heads) where they are concentrated. The extracted materials flow into the lower chambers and are discarded. Some of the grain residue may be sold as livestock feed.

Water added

5) The concentrated vapors, or fine spirits, contain 95-100% alcohol. This translates to 190 proof. In order to make it drinkable, water is added to the spirits to decrease the alcohol percentage to 40, and the proof to 80.

Bottling

6) Alcoholic beverages are stored in glass bottles because glass is non-reactive. Other receptacles, such as plastic, would cause a chemical change in the beverage. The bottling procedure is highly mechanized as the bottles are cleaned, filled, capped, sealed, labeled, and loaded into cartons. This can be done at rates as high as 400 bottles per minute.

Quality Control

Although tasters draw off quantities of vodka for sampling throughout the distilling process, most of the controls on vodka quality come from local, state, and federal governments. At the federal level, the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms issues strict guidelines for production, labeling, importation, advertising, and even plant security. For example, charcoal-filtered vodka imports are not permitted. Flavored vodkas must list the predominant flavor (pepper, lemon, peach, etc.) on the label. The relationships between suppliers and producers are strictly regulated as well.

 

Product No. 954304