Bahama Bob's Rumstyles

Sunday, December 10, 2017

I Guess I'll Take the Thunderstorm Over the Snow

     I hate it when you guys up north start getting snow, because when that cold front comes through down here in the Keys, it translates to a day of ominous clouds and temperatures down in the Sixties. This is not what the tropical life is suppose to be all about.  Mid Seventies are wonderful, but without heat in the house or in my case on the boat, it is time for fleeces and other warm things and for the most part staying inside out of those "raw" winds.  Enjoy your snow, but in a couple of days we will be back in the mid Seventies again and we all will be smiling again.

Saturday, December 9, 2017

It Could Cost You $10,000 to Fly a Drone While Under the Influence Over New Jersey

     Lawmakers in New Jersey have proposed a bill that would make it illegal to operate a done while under the influence of alcohol in a bid to reduce irresponsible use of the remote-controlled devices.  If passed, the bill would prohibit the use of drones under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or using a drone to harm wildlife or endanger people or property Just think, it can be just as expensive to sit on your patio having a few beers and be arrested for flying your drone.  WOW, or toys are finding more and more ways to get us thrown in jail.
      The bill would also make it a fourth-degree crime for drone operators to interfere with emergency services, or endanger the security of a correctional facility. The bill, which passed out of a New Jersey assembly committee on Monday, will go before the full senate on Thursday.   Such crimes would be punishable by up to 18 months in prison and a $10,000 fine.  
      “This bill sets specific guidelines for how New Jersey’s residents will be allowed use these devices and to establish some order, to prevent many of these dangerous situations.”     Consumer drone sales in the US has increased exponentially over the past few years, and not expected to slow down in the near future.  The Consumer Technology Association projects drone sales will pass the $1 billion mark by the end of 2017.   Most of drones sold weigh less than 0.55 pounds, the limit before registration is required with the Federal Aviation Administration.

Friday, December 8, 2017

Spirits Proof Down with Water Drawn From the Clouds

Cloud Water Generator
     Hilton Head Distillery in Hilton Head, South Carolina is using a unique water supply for its rum and vodka making.  They are condensing the water from the very humid air around the distillery and then using it to proof their spirits down to bottling proofs.   Their Aermoor Vodka is handcrafted from fresh molasses, it is then distilled 49 times before being proofed down with water sourced directly from the clouds above Hilton Head Island.
     Distillery owner Joe Fenten said, water that is used in the making of our spirits is a product of Hilton Head’s radiant environment and we’ve used the finest water source there is, water sourced directly from the atmosphere.   The result is crisp and delicious vodka and rum that will appeal to most everyone.”
     The process created by Fenten, uses an atmospheric water generator.   This is one of the most unique ways to make the pure water needed to proof down spirits anywhere and offers a very special cleanness to all of their products.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

Avoid the Holiday Legal Hangovers of This Years Parties

     This is my annual plea for everyone going to or having a holiday party this year to be aware of the potential for serious liability.   'Tis the season for holiday parties, but there are risks to hosting these parties.  Parties can boost friend’s morale, however, there are inherent risks that accompany hosting this type of party, particularly during the holidays and when inhibitions are lowered with alcohol and a festive atmosphere. Here are some tips to avoid legal "hangovers" from hosting holiday parties and mitigate the risks to you and your friends.

1. Lessen the Risk of Inappropriate Liaisons

     Consider allowing guests to bring a spouse or other guest, or perhaps make the party a family event. Although expanding the guest list increases costs, it also may result in guests behaving more appropriately with your other guests. Generally, people are less likely to engage in offensive behavior when they are accompanied by their significant other/

2. Ensure Safe Transportation and/or Lodging Options

     The host should encourage responsible drinking, use of designated drivers and public transportation options.  The possible of a place for guests to stay if they have had too much party to get home safely. 

3. Serve Alcohol Responsibly

     One of the simplest ways to mitigate risk is to avoid serving alcohol at all, but alcohol should be served only by professionals who will check IDs and respond appropriately to guests who may be consuming excessive amounts of alcohol or drugs. 

4. Set a Hard-Stop End Time

     The event should have a definitive start and end time. This also provides an opportunity to reiterate the message to travel home safely and lay out alternative methods of transportation/lodging rather than driving under the influence.

     While following these tips cannot guarantee an issue-free event, it certainly can reduce the risk of having troubles that come back to haunt you afterwards.   With careful planning and oversight, it is possible to have a great and fully appropriate office party.

     Here is to all of you having really fun holidays, and the fun staying inside and off of the streets where your parties can be ruined in a heartbeat and leave you with some awful legal hangovers.   Have a great time and be safe.  Cheers!

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Confusing Shipping Restrictions Fall on the Retailer’s Heads

     People forget just how different alcoholic beverage sales is from the bulk of consumer products. Alcohol, beyond the fundamentals of age restriction and tax collection, the public is barely aware of how deeply and disparately alcoholic beverages are regulated.  There isn’t anywhere that this is more evident than with shipping.   Americans can order clothes, send gifts, and by just about anything on the internet, parcels are dispatched with minimal ado and delivered to your place.   Those of you that are used to instant gratification, purchasing of alcohol on line is the very frustrating exception.   Sending a bottle of local gin home from vacation or ordering vintage Champagne for an anniversary can be complicated if not impossible.  Unfortunately, this usually happens at the retail outlet, leaving the merchant responsible for explaining why this problem exists.

     Here are the legalities of getting alcohol from one place to another, to help retailers get the options across to their customers.   Carrying alcoholic beverages on a plane with you is doable, but you must follow the TSA rules.  Airline passengers are familiar with the 3.4-ounce TSA rule for all carry-on liquids including alcoholic beverages, full-size bottles need to be in checked luggage, but there are some restrictions to that as well.   As far as your carry-on luggage, you can place all of the 3.4 oz. bottles of alcohol you can fit in a one 1-quart plastic bag.  In your Checked luggage, anything under 24%  or 48 proof, alcohol is unlimited, anything 24% to 70% or 48 to 140 proof alcohol is limited to 5 liters per passenger.  Any alcoholic beverages over 70% ABV or 140 proof is absolutely prohibited.  All bottles must be unopened.   Duty-free is the exception to these limits.  You should be aware that TSA and customs are totally separate entities, passengers should check customs limits set by the country they're entering, or be prepared to pay duties on their purchases.  Many times this amounts to a dollar or so per bottle, but if you are bringing in a very special spirit that can’t be obtained at home, this is a small price to pay.

     On an interstate train, there are no restrictions on carrying unopened containers of alcohol.  Control states have laws that forbid the transport of alcohol across state lines in your car.  For instance, there is a discount liquor store just across the state line between North and South Carolina that the North Carolina Police will take the license plate numbers of customers and the police will watch for the cars to cross into North Carolina and bust them for “bootlegging”.  This is an example of the ends that some states will do to protect their revenue, but most of these laws are primarily to discourage purchasing large quantities of alcohol in a neighboring state where taxes are lower.    If you are planning to drive across state lines with a "personal quantity" of alcoholic beverages should use common sense, making sure the bottles should be unopened and in the trunk.

     How many times has a customer carefully picked out the perfect gift bottle, then asked if it could be mailed?    The real question here is "where is it going".   It is not legal for consumers to mail alcohol themselves to a U.S. destination, via any method.   The United States Postal Service and the common carriers like UPS, FedEx etc. will refuse to take any such parcel known to contain alcohol.    If the destination is outside the country, shipping is legal, but you should check with customs of the destination for their regulations.  Retail shipping is a real nightmare.   While most states allow licensed state retailers to ship to other state customers within the same state, most do not allow any interstate retailers to ship in.   The regular carriers like FedEx and UPS have recently stepped up enforcement of retailer shipping laws, and ship only to the states that allow it.

      If craft makes of beer, wine or spirits hope to compete with world-wide operations like Amazon, they will need to start to push for the change of rules in more states to allow legal retailer to consumer shipping of alcoholic beverages.  This is very clearly the only that the “shipping lanes” can be opened up in the future.

Tuesday, December 5, 2017

Happy Repeal Day 2017

     The thirteen years of Prohibition here in the United States was a dark time.  The criminalizing of alcohol led not only to a rise in civil disobedience and organized crime, but also to the loss of customs associated with the production, preparation, and consumption of alcohol.   We celebrate Repeal Day because December 5th marks a return to the rich traditions of craft fermentation and distillation.  The resumption of the legitimacy for the American bartender as a contributor to the enjoyment of the clientele, and the leader of responsible enjoyment of alcohol as a widely enjoyed social custom.

     This day is conveniently located halfway between Thanksgiving and Christmas, at a time when most Americans are probably not spending time with family.   Repeal Day presents a wonderful occasion to get together with friends and pay tribute to our constitutional rights.  Unlike St. Patrick's Day or Cinco de Mayo, Repeal Day is a day that all Americans have a right to observe, is only possible because it is written in our Constitution   There is no other American holiday celebrates our laws guaranteeing our rights.

     This day is the 84th anniversary of Repeal Day.  I just hope that you take a little time to at least acknowledge the importance of this day for Americans.  It is a day of choice and a day that makes sure that we do have that choice here and don’t have to be criminals to enjoy an alcoholic beverage.  Cheers!!

Monday, December 4, 2017

What are the Plates in a Still All About?

Multi Plate Column
     Plates or trays as they are sometimes called, are used in distillation to enhance the mixing of liquid and vapor in the column of the still, whether it is a pot still with a column or a column still.    While their function is the same in both batch, post stills and continuous distillation, column stills, but their actual function is very different.
     Richard Seale, one of the most knowledgeable distillers anywhere has taken some time to explain  what they really do and how.   Basic batch distillation does not employ plates, but it is important to understand that the lyne arm is a basic type of plate. The cooling of the atmosphere causes liquid, known as reflux to form on the sides of the lyne arm and that mixes with the rising vapor.   The lyne arm then becomes the most vital part of the batch still and its shape affects its function as a plate and directly affects the performance of a still.
Lyne Arm at Top of Pot Still
     In batch (pot) distillation the wine is distilled till all the alcoholic spirit is removed in as the name implies, a batch process. Our lyne arm, affects the level of reflux) which in turn affects two fundamental things: the timing of the arrival of the various components of the wine and the contact time with copper.   The nature of our rum will be decided by the cuts. But affecting the timing of the components will affect quality of the cuts. Basically, having a good lyne arm developing good reflux will help ensure all of the undesirable heads arrive early and all of the undesirable tails arrive late so we can make our ideal cuts. Poor reflux means poor separation by timing yields poor quality hearts.   Low contact time with copper also leads to poor quality hearts.

Double Retort Pot Still
     When we add plates to a pot still stem, we are basically “supercharging” our lyne arm. If we add a condenser we are adding even more to our lyne arm.   We are using additional cooling over and above what the atmosphere gives and this together with the additional surface of the plates will improve the reflux.   It is the equivalent of using a giant lyne arm.   The plates in the pot still don't remove any congeners. They don't "purify" anything. They don't make a "lighter rum". The plates just affect the timing and contact time. Our cuts determine the congener profile but the plates by controlling the timing give us far greater control over what we “select” with our cuts.   Copper is thought to play a role in ester formation so enhanced time will increase congeners. The cuts, the copper contact and fermentation, determine how "heavy" we make the rum. Not the plates.        Our double retort still at Foursquare has plates above the pot and a cooling condenser.  The retorts also function as a kind of plate.  Many Caribbean pot stills were modified in the 19th century to add plates.
Large Column Still 
     Now in continuous distillation plates likewise enhance liquid/vapor contact. The same way you have batch distillation without plates, you could in theory build a continuous column system without plates. But it would be impractically tall. The enhanced liquid/vapor contact with external condenser cooling, makes the continuous column system practical. And with enough plates and reflux we can separate pure ethanol, but we are talking over 75 plates in the last column alone from the other congeners. In a steady state continuous column still the plates enhance the physical separation in the column and we draw off heads and tails from physical points where these congeners are concentrated.  We also draw ethanol or light spirit, from the physical point where the ethanol is positioned in the column.   The net effect of plates is to assist in “purification” or making lighter spirits or indeed making pure alcohol.

     Plates have very different roles depending on whether it is continuous or batch distillation. The function is the same, the role is different.  While on the topic, there are no hybrid stills. Still are either batch or continuous. With or without plates.  I hope that Richard’s explanation has helped understand the function and the use of plates in the process of distillation.