Making G&V
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Q. I've read about people going blind from drinking home-distilled spirits. Is there any danger of this?

A. Not a chance. The starting point for vodka is beer, made from sugar. Distillation doesn't produce anything because it is nothing more than a purification process, designed to REMOVE noxious substances from the beer. It doesn't ADD anything. If hard water were the starting liquid, distillation would remove the hardness and give you distilled water. Read the page on Health & Safety for further reassurance.

Q. Why are governments in so many countries opposed to amateur distillation?

A. We believe that, in most cases, it is due to an inability to distinguish between concentration and amount. The authorities seem to believe that, because spirits are 8 times as strong as beer, people who drink vodka are 8 times as likely to become inebriated. This is not only naïve but runs counter to experience.

Q. Could it be due to potential loss of tax revenue?

A. It can't be the sole reason because the amateur production of beer and wine is permitted, and both are taxed commercially.

Q. I am not a scientist. Is fractional distillation very complicated?

A. To some extent, but not as difficult to master as the making of wine. This is because there are no subtleties involved such as quality of grapes, type of yeast, attention to hygiene, etc. It is a straightforward scientific procedure which can be guaranteed to give a perfect product every time.

Q. What is the basis for the claim that a litre of gin or vodka can be made for about $1? It seems unbelievable.

A. It is based on the price of sugar, the raw material for making alcohol. A kilogram of sugar (2.2 lbs) will easily produce a litre of 40% alcohol, so look at the price of sugar in your supermarket and work it out for yourself.

Q. Do you provide any follow-up service?

A. Absolutely. Readers who have difficulty understanding something in the book or are not getting the results they hoped for can send as many questions as they like by e-mail and such questions will always be answered promptly.