Dream Life - Episode 22
It’s the day of the trial run for the distiller that was installed in a converted warehouse of Scott’s brewery by the Finn River.
Under Nicholas’s direction, barrels of ale were brought in one after another.
Carefully place it into the distiller and light the coal at the bottom.
Nicholas carefully checked the temperature of the distiller, which was gradually rising, listening to the sound with a thin iron rod. Then, after nodding lightly in satisfaction, he poured the cold water from the Finn River into the cooler connected to the outlet of the arm.
After a while, a thread-thin transparent liquid slowly flowed out of the outlet of the cooler. Then, it gradually became thicker and thicker.
Beltram took it in a container and frowned for a moment as he faced it.
I pretend to be a curious kid and take it. Scott tries to stop me, but Nicholas laughs and says, “Don’t worry. I’ll watch him,” he said, as I pretended to be a naughty master child.
I put my nose close to the container I had received and held it up in my hands to smell it.
(It’s okay, I guess. It smells like the new pot whisky I used to smell at the distillery. It’s also non-peated, which means it hasn’t been smoked with peat.)
From what I know, one distillation should be enough to triple the concentration, so it should be less than 20 percent at the most. The sweet malt smell is a bit strong, but another distillation should bring it up to nearly fifty percent.
I handed the container back to Bertram and smiled at him from an angle Scott couldn’t see.
Beltram looked at me with his eyes, “Success?” I gave him a small nod and told him that it was a success.
I almost jumped for joy at the success, while making eye contact with an old dwarf man.
Tell Nicholas that we succeeded with the keywords that I told him in advance.
Like a child, I ask, “Nicholas, what is this?”. “This smells funny,” was a sign of failure, “What is this?” a sign of success.
He replied to my words, “This is a liquor that has been fortified. It’s too early for Zacharias-sama,” while laughing.
“It worked. Distill it again in the next distiller. Put everything you make into the barrels. Would you like to taste it, Beltram-san?”
Bertram hesitated slightly at the words, but then said, “I’ll have a drink,” and sipped from the container.
Then he took it in his mouth as if he were gulping it all at once.
I looked at him, wondering if he was okay, but as expected of a dwarf, he swallowed without choking.
“It’s definitely a stronger drink than ale. It’s not enough to burn your tongue, but the feeling is addictive. Try it, Nicholas. If you drink it all at once, you might choke.”
Nicholas gave a small nod and accepted the container. When he took a small sip, he choked a little.
“It’s definitely a little strong, isn’t it? It has a unique smell, and as an unusual liquor, I think it will sell well.”
Later, Scott took a sip, but like Nicholas, he choked and said, “This is a strange taste. Is this gonna be good?” He frowned.
Apparently, it didn’t suit Scott’s taste.
“If we can make it a little stronger, we can definitely sell it in Kaum. One sip of this stuff will make you feel like you’ve had a whole pint of ale, which is perfect for us boozy dwarves.”
With Bertram’s approval, Scott seemed to be a little more motivated.
“Yes! We’ll distill it down and make a stronger one!”
Nicholas then gave Scott a note of caution and further research under the guise of instruction.
(Nicholas is very serious. I think it’s okay to leave some things to him. If there was a way to measure the number of degrees, we could keep the quality consistent, but we don’t need to force it to be consistent. That’s the personality of alcohol too. …… Maybe he’s trying to keep an eye on the distiller to make sure it doesn’t break?)
I decided to sit in on the second distillation and see what they thought of the re-distilled strong spirit.
“What is this liquor, is what i thought at first. I can’t get used to the burning sensation on my tongue when I put it in my mouth, but after it goes down my throat, I can’t help liking this sensation that hits me in the stomach.”
Next, Scott’s thoughts–Nicholas asks Scott–are.
“I thought my mouth hurt at first. As Nicholas-san told me, when I mixed it with water, it became a little lighter and my stomach became hot all at once. Whether it’s good or not, it’s a new kind of drink.”
Finally, Nicholas’ thoughts.
“If I had to choose, I’d say I prefer beer or ale. But if it gets better with age, I’m interested enough to wait and try it.”
In the end, it seemed that Bertram was the only one who could take it, but I was a little relieved that I could sell it to the dwarves.
Then, on the way back, I asked Bertram for his opinion.
“I would suggest watering it down at first, what do you think?”
“Humans might prefer it that way. But it sells better to roughnecks like me. They live for vanity. They think, ‘I can drink this stuff just fine’.”
I was going to make a production plan, but I wasn’t sure how much I could make without market research.
(It’s okay for now. It’s a trial distillation. But if we’re going to make a full-scale distillation, we’ll have to start thinking about growing wheat. I’ll have to talk to father about that, along with building more distillers and storage facilities.)
I took the spirits in the jar with Nicholas and went to report to my grandfather and father.
First of all, a picture is worth a thousand words, so I asked him to lick the distilled liquor.
I tried licking it before I came here, but my sensitive four-year-old tongue couldn’t tell the strength at all.
When I transferred it to a plate and lit it, a blue-white flame came on immediately, so it seemed to be at least 40 percent alcohol.
Immediately after licking it, my grandfather and father had subtle expressions on their faces. So I gave them a cocktail that was slightly sweetened with honey and a little water. I didn’t have any ice, so it was a warm cocktail, but I thought it would be easier to drink than the original.
They put it in their mouths and started to gulp it down. After gulping it down with satisfaction, my grandfather
“I think I’m gonna need another one of these. Matt, this looks like it could be the one, what do you think?”
My father stared at the mug he’d drunk out of and muttered, “Right,” then
“This year’s barley crop was bountiful. I’ll allow you to distill more than usual. As for storage, …… Zach, you have some ideas?”
“Yes. For the time being, I think it’s fine to build an extension next to the brewery, where it’s easy to transport, but in the future I’m thinking of building a basement here on Mansion Hill and using it for storage. The temperature of distilled liquor is not so strictly controlled, but in the case of long-term aging, it would have been better if the temperature did not rise too high.”
My father growled at me and said, “You can’t spend money on this.”
When I talked to him, he told me that the amount of money spent on materials for the pump and distiller was more than he expected, and that he would have to cash in his stockpile of grain and other materials to make ends meet.
It is true that some things are done without regard to cost.
Especially for the production of the distillation equipment, Bertram’s work is close to a homemade lunch. As my father, he seems to think that he should at least pay for the materials.
Most of the material is high-purity copper. This copper is from Ars, the royal capital of the Kingdom of Kaum, and is quite expensive. It is said that they use “metal” magic to increase the purity of the copper.
Whisky making is a difficult business to recover the initial investment. In the 1970s and 1980s, many distilleries in Scotland were closed.
Not long before that, I heard that the company had invested in equipment due to growing demand in the U.S., but quickly closed down due to sluggish demand and inability to recover the funds.
It might be fine to serve this distilled liquor in its fresh state – mostly barley shochu – but considering the creation of a brand image, I would like to let it sit for at least three years.
This would mean that it would take at least three years to recover the money. The Lockhart family, which was not that wealthy to begin with, might be in a very difficult situation.
I said, “Okay, I’ll make a plan.” then left my grandfather and others
My plan was to make whiskey from ale, marl from wine pomace, and flavored spirits such as Gin that don’t require aging.
We found juniper berries in the forest, the source of the gin’s fragrance, so we used them. My preference would be to add citrus peels to the botanicals (the ingredients that give the gin its scent), but I can’t find any citrus around here, so I’m thinking I can use mint or something that smells strongly of herbs. I think I can stick it in.
Since the cost of raw materials is relatively low, the initial cost is more important than the running cost.
(The initial investment should be kept as low as possible, and we should try gin, which can be recovered in a short period of time. …… At first, we could sell gin sweetened with honey or sugar. I’m not sure if it would sell well if the sales pitch was that it would cure fatigue and nourish the body. …… If this is a hit, it will sell the name of Rathmore Village. Then we can go the luxury route. ……)
After putting together a simple plan and taking it to my father, he gave Nicholas a bag of gold coins. There were ten gold coins inside, worth 1,000 C krona (= 1 million yen), and he said to try it with these.
We decided to use the money to buy coal for fuel and ale for materials. As for the barrels, we decided to use old red wine barrels. Which are similar to what we call a “claret finish”.
I’m actually struggling with how to do this when retailing.
There is a way to sell it in barrels, but I prefer to bottle it if possible. It’s more stable in terms of quality, and I don’t think it’s easy to suddenly buy a barrel.
There are no glass bottles, but ceramic jars can be made in this village.
Now that I have what looks like a kiln, I’m thinking of making a ceramic bottle like Steinhager – a German gin that comes in a long, narrow ceramic container bottle – but I’m wondering how to estimate the production cost of this.
Ceramic jars are common in this world, but they are not in such high demand that they can be quite expensive. When adding the cost of the bottle, the price of the liquor itself becomes quite high, so I’m thinking of introducing a system to collect the bottles, a deposit system.
However, this would be less effective in keeping prices from rising because of the cost of shipping empty bottles.
(We could start with disposable, and when they sell well, transport the whole barrel and bottle it at the place of consumption. Either way, there’s no point in thinking about it now. It’s only after the product sells.)
I gave Nicholas the written instructions on how to make the gin and decided to leave it to him and Scott.
As a result, something that looked like gin was completed.
But even Bertram, the dwarf, tilted his head at the taste.
“Is this a medicine? Can’t you do something about this smell? It’s not just in my mouth, it’s in my stomach too.”
I forgot something important.
I had lost track of the fact that I couldn’t get citrus fruits that go well with gin.
(I should have remembered that when I was at Botanicals. This drink is a sailor’s drink. England, Holland, Spain, Portugal ……, all the places that produce a lot of gin are by the sea and have easy access to citrus fruits. Now, what should I do? ……)
I changed my mind and decided that I should make something a little easier to drink.
When gin proved to be unacceptable, it turned to making fruit wine by soaking fruits.
The fruits themselves are not very abundant, but there are many berry fruits and wild plums growing in the forest. I decided to try to pickle these, as they should be relatively easy to get hold of for making dried fruits and using them in cooking.
We soak berries and plums in the twice distilled, 40% or so distilled liquor, but the sweetness is overwhelmingly lacking.
Sugar can be obtained by asking a peddler, but I don’t plan to use it at the moment because of the cost.
In this case, the only thing I could think of was honey or malt syrup, but I rejected syrup because it uses the raw material for alcohol.
(Honey. …… There seems to be a lot of wild honey, but it’s not in stable supply. I’ll use wild honey for now, but I’ll try beekeeping soon. ……)
Make a fruit wine with honey, put it in a jar and let it sit until spring.
(In the end, we couldn’t make anything that we could sell right away. Well, let’s just say it’s good to know that distillation is possible.)
In November, we also produced marl, which is distilled from the dregs of the wine, and we had enough marl for several barrels.
In December, I tasted the Scotch type that had been laid down for two months.
It was from a smaller barrel intended for short-term aging, so it has a light but amber color.
Bertram, Scott and Nicholas tasted it, which was well received by all but Nicholas.
Bertram, in particular, was all smiles and happy, saying, “This one will sell. Even if it doesn’t sell, I’ll buy it all,” he said.
“I want to send this to someone I know in Ars. Can you share some with me?”
Bertram wanted to send them to his dwarven acquaintances in Ars, where he was from.
By that time, dozens of bottles had been made for testing, and we had to send about ten bottles.
Then Bertram asked me with a slightly troubled look on his face.
“Does this thing have a name? It’s a spirit. You can’t tell the difference between it and wine dregs.”
I pretend to think for a moment before telling Bertram and Nicholas, “I think I’m going to name it ‘Scotch’ in honor of Scott for making it.”
Nicholas asked, “What about the other spirits Scott makes?” He nodded his head. But since there was no particular counter-proposal, it was decided to name it Scotch, as I had hoped.
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