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In the most basic sense, distillation is a process used to separate a composite mixture into base elements. It involves a change of state, usually from liquid to gas, and then subsequent condensation to return the now separated elements to liquid state.
Distillation is used to separate alcohol from various fruits, grains, wines and beers. Once the raw material (fruits, grains, etc) has fermented it is heated. Since different base elements in the material, such as water, alcohol, and fusel oils have varying boiling points, the elements separate. The distilled material is then collected in a vessel – with care that the heads and tails (undesirable elements) are excluded from the drinkable alcohol.
Origins and History of Process Distillation
The process of separating a liquid into different parts by evaporation and condensation, is an age-old process that may have began as early as 2000 BC. Some say that the first use of distillation occurred in China, Egypt, or Mesopotamia for medicinal purposes as well as to create balms, essences, and perfumes. Over time, the secrets of the distillation process traversed thousands of miles, moving over Europe, crossing England, Scotland and Ireland, and settling in the Americas.