Thursday, July 19, 2018

History of distillation process in Europe

The first distillation apparatus found in Mesopotamia (today´s Iraq) comes from the period 3500 BC. Nicander (183—135 BC), a Greek poet and physician, spoke of the extraction of perfumes from plants by what should now call as a process of distillation.

The earliest certain chemical distillations were by Greeks in Alexandria in the 1st century AD but these were not distillations of alcohol.

The medieval Arabs adopted the distillation technique of the Alexandrian Greeks, and written records in Arabic begin in the 9th century, but again these were not distillations of alcohol.

Al-Kindi (801-873, wrote in the 9th century a book on perfumes which he named ‘Book of the Chemistry of Perfume and Distillations’. It contained more than hundred recipes for fragrant oils, salves, aromatic waters and substitutes or imitations of costly drugs. The book also described one hundred and seven methods and recipes for perfume-making.

Although there are rare Arab references, towards the end of the first millennium, to the distillation of wine, it seems probable that for religious reasons they did not exploit it. Distillation of alcohol for drinking seems first to have developed in Europe in the twelfth century and thereafter.

The derivations of the words ‘alcohol’ and alambic, from the Arabic word al-koh’l and al-anbiq, indicate that it was from the Islamic word that the practice of distillation first entered Europe. Until the end of the 15th century, distilled wine (aqua vitae) seems to have been used largely as a medicine.

But in 1493, a Nuremburg doctor noted everyone in the city had got into the habit of drinking. As a result, three years later the city authorities forbade the sale of alcohol on feast days. One of the first books on distillation written by J. French has been published in London in 1651.
History of distillation process in Europe

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