The article proposed by my esteemed readers seems to have nothing to do with the subject of the site. However, most of the regulars of the "Military Review" - men. I suppose that almost all of them (like all of us) like to skip a glass from time to time. Therefore, it seemed to me that my article would be of interest to many. In addition, I myself read the article with interest. “How the Russian people were soldered” and therefore decided to speak out.
Alcohol vs. Life
However, there is one more nuance, much more important. I think there are few people among us who do not name the problem of alcoholism among the main threats to the future of the Russian people. In the last quarter of a century, this problem has turned into a real disaster, which annually takes lives, I am not afraid of this figure, of millions of people.
Alcoholism not only destroys the body of the drinker, but also spoils the life of others and often presents a direct threat to loved ones or casual acquaintances. It is not difficult to draw attention to the fact that the vast majority of the most heinous and heinous crimes are committed precisely when intoxicated.
I admit honestly: I myself like a little drink. At the same time, I am absolutely convinced that if we completely forbid the sale of alcohol at all overnight, the crime rate would have fallen incredibly. And along with this, life expectancy would increase, the demographic situation would improve, etc. Another thing is that such an unprecedented measure would surely lead to an unprecedented social explosion. This fact in itself puts the issue of alcohol consumption on the first lines of the priority list of national security problems.
The recently interesting book of Boris Viktorovich Rodionov, which was recently read by me, also inspired me to publish this article:History Russian vodka from half a grain to the present day. ” The thought that was expressed between the cases in this book seemed extremely important and interesting to me. And I thought that I simply had to share it.
I recommend everyone to read Rodionov's aforementioned work. But at the same time, I understand that not everyone who likes to drink sometimes will be so interested to delve into the intricacies of distillation and distillation processes. Therefore, I will briefly describe here what the book describes in detail and is very reasonably proven.
When asked what is the Russian national drink, the vast majority of us will not hesitate to answer: vodka. So recently, I myself thought. And I will not hide, somewhere in my soul I had a certain inferiority complex related to the fact that some English or French have cognac and long-term whiskey that you need to drink from glasses, savoring the subtle nuances of flavoring bouquets, accompanying your meal with a certain snack , and we have just vodka - a flammable liquid without color, taste and smell, in fact, a banal swill to quickly and inexpensively get drunk. And suddenly I find out that we had a real national Russian drink and was in no way inferior to overseas rum, whiskey and brandy. And it was called "bread wine."
I must say right away that the word "wine" here has absolutely nothing to do with either grapes or wine in our modern sense. Bread wine is just a strong (about 40%) drink obtained by distillation of mash. And it was made practically exactly the same as all strong drinks in all other countries. We can say that the recipe for Russian bread wine was identical with whiskey, only whiskey was made mainly from barley, and bread wine was mainly made from rye.
Two words about physics to understand the most important thing. There is a distillation process, invented in ancient times, as is believed by the Egyptians. Then it was brought to Europe by the Arab conquerors. He could get to Russia both from Europe and directly from the East. Simply put, the mash is distilled in a distillation cube (moonshine). During this process, hot alcohol vapors rise through the tubes and, entering the cooler, condense on the walls of the tube and flow into the tank in the form of a distillate, a distillate. This distillate is already drinkable. It can be different in taste, strength and quality, depending on the raw materials, the correct fermentation, the quality of the distillation apparatus, the ability of the distillery, and also on a host of different reasons. But this distillate is the basis for the future drink. Naturally, the technology is very simple, and together with alcohol vapors, a lot of flavoring impurities get into the drink, which form the very bouquet.
Thus, all strong drinks are made: brandy, whiskey, chacha, grappa, tequila and others. So did the bread wine. But there is one single drink that goes wrong. This is modern vodka! Vodka in its modern form is the result of another technological process - rectification. This is a mixture of pure rectified ethyl alcohol with water. Very many (and until recently, myself too) think that pure alcohol is, roughly speaking, the same moonshine, but produced on industrial advanced equipment, therefore it is cleaner, does not smell like a sivuha, and ultimately, of course, is better. But in fact, everything is not so simple here. During rectification, only the fraction of ethyl alcohol is selected at a certain level of the distillation column, which separates the lighter and heavier vapors. As a result, the result is a truly pure product - 96 percent ethyl alcohol, which is then diluted with water and get modern vodka.
So, distillation column was invented only in the second half of the 19th century, and this technology was intended primarily for chemical and armory industry, where the use of a pure chemical (ethyl alcohol) is very important. But not for eating it. Thus, no vodka in the modern sense, that is, as a mixture of pure alcohol with water, could not be defined before the end of the 19th century. And when we read in various historical sources that some kings or boyars drank vodka, we must understand that they drank not a modern drink without taste, color and smell, but something completely different. In this sense, the discussions themselves about which country has more rights to the vodka brand look completely absurd: Russia, Lithuania or Poland. The drink that was made in these countries in ancient times has nothing to do with modern vodka!
From rye with malt
Bread wine was produced, as a rule, from rye raw materials with the addition of malt. In a special way, rye (or other grains) and malt were ground in large containers at a certain temperature, so that the starch contained in them turned into sugars, from which the introduced yeast cultures produced alcohol during fermentation. But as a result of distillation (distillation) of such mash, a fragrant drink with a pleasant rye aroma was obtained.
They kept the drink, naturally, in barrels, getting actually whiskey at the exit after a few years (the word “whiskey” itself is nothing more than the local Scottish name for “water of life”, aqua vita). This drink could be further refined with charcoal or milk, distilled repeatedly, insisted on berries and herbs, and then again distilled already obtained tincture. In general, to make a huge number of different drinks or drink just like that. Such bread wine, when diluted to about 38,5%, was called half-wine (when set on fire, the drink burned out exactly half). In the absence of alcohol meters, the standard of the strength of the drink was observed.
The recipe for half a grain is not lost!
It's a shame that today the vast majority of people do not know at all that such a drink existed, that it was in no way inferior to the best European strong drinks, possessing a delicate taste and a complicated recipe for preparation. Twice it is insulting - because the recipe has been preserved, it is not completely lost. After all, there are a lot of guides on distillation, preserved from the 19th and 18th centuries, where all the details of the process are described in detail.
Why does this beautiful drink remain in oblivion? Yes, everything is simple! The cost of such a drink is many times higher than the cost of diluted rectified alcohol, which is easy to obtain even from sawdust, even from oil. Regardless of the raw materials used, at the end of the rectification process, you will receive 96,6% С2Н5ОН - ethyl alcohol, rectified. Then mix it with “artesian water”, add glycerin for softness, bottle it, stick a label with a big name like “Old Russian special” and sell it in luxury stores for the price of a good cognac. And none of the buyers will even think that this “elite” vodka is practically no different in principle from the cheapest little white at 200 rubles. per bottle ... And even this price significantly exceeds the cost of half a liter of drink.
At the very end of the 19th century, “state sale of drinks” was introduced in Russia, a state monopoly on the production of highly purified rectified spirit. The technology of "monopoly wine", that is, a water-alcohol mixture, formed the basis for the recipe of modern vodka, which replaced traditional bread wine quite quickly due to its cheapness and a number of other reasons.
Perhaps it was then that connoisseurs of really tasty spirits were forced to master their manufacture at home, which led to the emergence of the term “moonshine”. The word “vodka” on a bottle with a clear, strong liquid appeared only in the 30s of the 20th century. Vodka used to be called completely different drinks, as a rule, triple distilled aromatic distillates, previously infused with herbs, berries, fruits in countless combinations.
The experience of scientists from the Research Institute of Addiction
And the most important. In the same book of Rodionov there is a reference to the experience put forward already in the 21st century in Russia by a group of scientists (details and links can be found in the book, work was carried out at the Research Institute of Narcology of the Russian Ministry of Health in Moscow, the Institute of Toxicology in St. Petersburg and the Institute of Theoretical and experimental biophysics of the Russian Academy of Sciences in Pushchino).
A series of experiments with mice and rats showed that the effect on the body of vodka (a water-alcohol mixture based on the rectifier) and distillation products (cognac, whiskey and even moonshine) is equally negative from a medical point of view, but vodka is much more addictive . But addiction is precisely alcoholism, dependence!
Gold mine for the budget. And what for the people?
The GOST for 1972 (GOST 18300-72) gives the following definition of alcohol: “Ethyl alcohol is a flammable, colorless liquid with a characteristic odor, refers to potent drugscausing excitement and then paralysis of the nervous system. ”
The main trap is that a pure drug - ethyl alcohol, simply diluted with water, of course, has a much stronger narcotic effect than it, but it is connected by numerous chemical bonds, impurities that enter the drink from raw materials during the distillation process. It is harmful in any case, but in its pure form, in the form of modern vodka, causes a faster and stronger addiction to the body. Is that why our problem of solderability of the population is so acute, although in some other countries they drink no less? They drink a lot everywhere, but only here instead of traditional distillates we massively consume pure potent drug, diluted with water for softness - the so-called. vodka.
The state monopoly on the production of rectified alcohol is a real gold mine for the budget. But what is the price for the people for her? General alcoholism, degradation, the complete destruction of the national culture of distilling, as well as culinary traditions associated with the consumption of drinks.
Glass of poison and pickle. How to fight?
A glass of transparent tasteless poison with pickles - that’s all that remains of the richest Russian national cuisine, where hundreds of different kinds of drinks were accompanied by the same many different snacks.
I don’t know how to fix such an annoying historical mistake that led many of our people to the path of alcoholism, which, in turn, caused millions of premature deaths, unborn children, family destruction, degradation and damage to the national gene pool. I do not know how to overcome the alcohol mafia, earning utter profits on the people's mountain. How can this be done if the people themselves no longer understand what they drink and what their ancestors drank a hundred and a few years ago? He really doesn’t know such words - bread wine - for the most part. How to make him buy such a drink instead of “native” vodka?
Personally, I see several steps that could theoretically correct the situation. Although I understand that in modern conditions their implementation is hardly possible.
1. The legislative restriction on the use of rectified alcohol for the production of alcoholic beverages, especially the so-called vodka.
2. Stimulating the development of beverage production based on the distillation process, development and implementation of quality standards, tax systems. In this sense, if I am not mistaken, in 2015, GOST for grain distillates was finally adopted in Russia. Prior to this, drinks such as whiskey, for example, or half a grain, in our legislation did not exist in principle. But the license fee for their production is very high, so only large manufacturers can do this. Hence the next step.
3. Stimulation of the so-called. craft production of alcoholic beverages by small producers, which will contribute to healthy competition and market development.
4. An active educational campaign to restore historical memory and increase the culture of drinking.
Of course, you will have to forget about excess profits from the sale of alcohol, but the positive effect of replacing vodka with high-quality distillates in mass consumption will be incredibly more valuable. And who knows, maybe someday our people will return to their roots and start consuming real Russian drinks again - tasty, varied, and not so harmful, instead of a primitive poisonous liquid called “vodka”.