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cooperation of the various railway companies, every flooded areas, and of the rainfall in the different intelligent person in the district was made aware of districts. the impending danger in ample time to make such Two other volumes issued by the Geological Departpreparations as they were able.
ment relate to the floods of the river Passaic in 1902 The floods of 1903 owed their inception to a series and 1903, when the loss to the inhabitants of the of heavy rainfalls caused by a succession of storms district was estimated for the two floods at about 3 of the south-western type, the best rain-producing million pounds. These two volumes also contain quarter, coming on the top of the water derived numerous very telling illustrations of the flooded areas from the melting of the snow on the mountains in the and of the damage done to houses and factories." upper reaches.
In the February flood in the lower Mississippi the water rose in one long swell from Cairo to the Gulf of
WHAT IS BRANDY? Mexico from 17.5 feet on the gauge on January 28, passing the danger point of 45 feet thirty-nine days THIS question, which a few months ago greatly later, and 30 feet, or 51 feet above the top of the
exercised analytical chemists in this country in banks, eight days afterwards. It remained above the consequence of the action of certain local authorities danger line for another twelve days, and then began
under the Sale of Food and Drugs Acts, has recently to fall. It will thus be seen that the water in the engaged the attention of the Technical Committee of river during the flood rose 33 feet.
Enology, instituted by the French Minister of ComAlthough excessive rainfall was the original cause merce by decree of March 22, 1904, and the committee of these floods, the effect was greatly increased by have adopted the conclusions of M. Rocques, the reworks that had been carried out for the improvement porter of the subcommittee charged with the considerof the river and for providing means of inland trans- ation of the matter, whose report is published in extenso port, necessitating the frequent crossing of the river by in the Moniteur Officiel du Commerce of June 30. In railway bridges. Formerly a certain amount of relief
view of the importance of the subject, it may be deto the floods was afforded by the water flowing through sirable to give a short summary of the facts and arguthe numerous crevasses or breaches of the banks that ments which led the technical committee to adopt the occurred, but during recent years the banks have been conclusions of the special subcommittee. systematically raised and strengthened. For example,
In the first place the committee, for reasons which in the St. Francis system the levees have been extended it is unnecessary to explain, object to the term and raised 2 feet over a length of 173 miles, and the coefficient of impurities, hitherto employed by French arra ariginally subject to being submerged reduced chemists, in conformity with a decree of the Minister 4000 square miles. The same operations have been
of Commerce of May 26, 1903, to designate the aggrecarried on in other districts, so that the flooded area gate proportion of the substances other than ethylic which previous to 1897 extended over 30,000 square
alcohol in brandy, and prefer to denote it by the term miles in 1903 barely reached 7000 square miles. "The coefficient non-alcohol, or more simply non-alcohol, by fight against this food was also the most extensive which is to be understood the sum of the different and persistent ever attempted in the history of levee volatile substances, other than ethylic alcohol, exengineering. When a breach was likely to occur all pressed in grams per hectolitre of absolute alcohol. the help and material available was concentrated at
These substances are the acids, aldehydes, ethers, the the point of greatest weakness. At one place a force alcohols higher in the homologous series than ethyl of more than 1000 men was employed both day and alcohol, and the furfurol. night, in spite of which the bank gave way for more
The causes which influence this coefficient are many, than a mile.
but in the main they may be said to depend upon At another part of the river, about 36 miles below (1) the nature of the wine, (2) the method of distilNew Orleans, a crevasse occurred at a place where lation, and (3) age. the river is 120 feet deep. The bank was all washed As regards the first cause, it is found that the proaway, and where it formerly stood a hole was scoured portion, as well as the character, of the volatile matters out 60 feet deep. Owing to the precautions taken, vary according to the origin of the wine, the conditions dur to the warnings of the Weather Bureau, provision under which its fermentation has been effected, the tad been made to meet such a catastrophe, and work- manner in which it has been kept, &c. The proportion men were at once concentrated on the spot, and train- of acids and ethers is considerably augmented if the loads of material which had been provided in readi- wine becomes sour, and, speaking generally, the proness for such an emergency were brought to the place. portion of aldehydes is higher in white than in red By this means the breach was successfully closed, and wines. the flooding of some of the finest sugar plantations in But it is mainly in the method of distillation that we Louisiana averted.
are to seek for the cause of the wide variations in this Other causes that contributed to the greater rise of coefficient. This is readily understood if we examine the flood were the numerous railway bridges that had the manner in which the various substances, which been carried across the river without leaving sufficient together constitute non-alcohol, behave during distilwaterway for foods. In one place, where the natural lation. It is known that these substances pass over width of the river is 900 feet, the waterway had been in very different proportion in the course of the distilcontracted to 400 feet by a railway bridge, the velocity lation. Thus the aldehyde and the more volatile ethers of the water through which rose to twelve miles an are found mainly in the first runnings (produits de hour.
tête), whereas the taillings (produits de queue) contain Encroachments by reclamation have also materially in largest quantity the higher alcohols and the furfurol. interfered with the free flow of the river, the original The separation of these various products—the prowidth of the channel in some places having been re- duits de tête, the alcohol itself (de coeur), and the duced one-half.
produits de queue-is effected in a manner more or The report of these floods contains numerous illus- less complete, depending upon the apparatus employed. trations which give a very graphic idea of the ruin In the larger distilleries this apparatus is of a very taused in the flooded areas, and also of the works high order of perfection. But without further labourcarried on in repairing the levees. There is also a
1 The Passaic Flood of 1902, Water Supply and Irrigation Paper map of the watershed of the Mississippi and of the No. 88, and of 1903, Paper 92. (Washington : Government Printing Office. ing this point, it is obvious that the aggregate amount The question whether it is possible to fix minimum and relative proportion of these products must depend and maximum limits to this coefficient naturally revery largely upon the means made use of, and hence ceived much consideration from the committee. The perfectly genuine brandies must necessarily show wide fixation of these presents a certain interest, and that differences in the coefficient non-alcohol.
from two different points of view. The fixation of a In addition, it must be remembered that in the manu- minimum limit has interest for the analyst, as guiding facture of brandy from wines of repute, the elimination | him in his inference as to the genuineness of the brandy of the substances constituting non-alcohol must be or as to the amount of " silent” spirit with which it made with the greatest circumspection, since it is may have been mixed. The fixation of a maximum upon their bouquet that the value of these brandies limit has an interest from the hygienic point of view, depends, and this bouquet resides wholly in the non- since it may become necessary if regulations are to be alcohol.
established in this sense. On the other hand, if the brandy is being made from The committee, however, are unable to recommend damaged wine the rectification must be most carefully that any such limits should be fixed, owing mainly to conducted, and may have to be pushed to a point that the extremely variable character of brandy. Even in the alcohol is obtained almost pure, that is to say, the case of brandies of a definite character, as, for almost free from non-alcohol.
example, Cognac, the non-alcohol coefficient is not the As regards the influence of age, it is observed that only element of value, and any conclusions as to in those brandies which are found to improve on keep- character cannot be based solely upon it. Regard must ing there is an increase in non-alcohol due (1) to the be had to the proportions of the different volatile subformation of products of oxidation (acids and alde- stances and their relations among themselves. Expert hydes), and (2) to concentration due to a loss of alcohol tasting (dégustation) must be considered as an indisand water.
pensable complement of chemical analysis. Brandies may be classified in the following The hygienic point of view, involving the fixation manner :
of a maximum value for the non-alcohol coefficient, (1) The brandies of the two Charentes, which are was brought to the notice of the International Congress habitually designated by the name of Cognac. of Chemistry in Paris in 1900, but the problem, as then (2) Thé brandies of Armagnac.
stated, received no definite solution. To base con(3) The brandies de vin du Midi and of Algeria clusions on the value of the coefficient alone, with no (trois-six de Montpellier, &c.).
regard the factors which it comprises, seems (4) Marc brandies.
illogical. For example, the acids, and in particular The brandies of the Charentes are obtained by acetic acid, frequently make up a large proportion of distillation of the wines of the district, and as the this value, but it cannot be contended that these subreputation of these brandies depends upon their stances, at least in the proportion in which they are bouquet they are submitted to a slight rectification present in brandy, have any detrimental influence. only in order to preserve that bouquet.
Far more important are the aldehydes, ethers, the The same may be said of the Armagnac brandies. higher alcohols, and furfurol.
As to brandies made in other viticultural regions, As regards the higher alcohols, the attempt has been and in particular in the middle of France, their nature made to establish a higher limit. Thus in Belgium, by is much more variable. These brandies require to be a Royal decree of December 31, 1902, the sale is prorectified in a manner, more or less complete, depend hibited of spirituous liquors containing more than ing upon the nature of the wine or of the marc from 1 gram of the higher alcohols and essences per litre which they are derived, and varying, too, with the of absolute alcohol when these liquors have an alcoholic quality of the brandy it is desired to produce. Certain content higher than 90°, and 3 grams when the wines require, in fact, to be most carefully rectified in alcoholic richness does not exceed 90° order to produce merchantable brandy. Marc brandy The committee remark that the effect of this regulais made in all viticultural regions, and that of tion would be to exclude some of the most famous, and Burgundy enjoys a special reputation.
notably the oldest, brandies of the Charente, many of As regards the value of the coefficient in different which exceed the maximum Belgian limit, which, exbrandies, it is found that in those of Charente and pressed as a non-alcohol coefficient, is 300. Thus :Armagnac the coefficient is very high. Thus, as
Higher alcohols minima, a brandy of Clunis (1879, good, but not
per hectolitre of guaranteed) gave 259 (Girard and Cuniasse). A
abs, alcohol Cognac of 1892 gave 287 (Rocques). As maxima may
Bois Brandy, 1817 (Lusson)...
612 be cited a Bois brandy of 1817, which gave 1174
Saintonge, Cazes, 1896 (Lusson)
372 (Lusson). This last number is exceptionally high. It
Gemozac, or de Fesson, 1893 (Lusson) 345 may be said that, ordinarily, the value of the coefficient
Clunis, 1875 (Lusson)
345 in Cognacs and fine champagne ranges between 275
Cognac, 1873 (Rocques)
304 But little analytical evidence has been published re
From the hygienic point of view the ethers, furfurol;
and especially the aldehydes, are undoubtedly of much specting the Armagnac brandies, but, such as it is, greater importance than the higher alcohols, since it indicates that the coefficients in their case are less admittedly the action of these substances on the than are generally found in Cognacs.
organism is far more deleterious than that of the higher The brandies obtained from the wines of the Midi alcohols. From this point of view the attention of and Algeria show much wider variations, ranging from hygienists should be directed to the Marc brandies, 25 to 500. Marc brandies have almost invariably a high able quantities of aldehydes.
which, as already stated, frequently contain consider: coefficient. The numbers range from 555 to 1487, and Interesting and, no doubt, valuable as the report is it is interesting to note that the aldehydes frequently it is hardly calculated to facilitate the work of the unform a large proportion of the whole. Thus a fortunate public analysts who may be called upon to Burgundy marc brandy was found to contain as much express an opinion as to the genuineness of a sample as 519 of aldehyde, and one from the Midi as high as of brandy. The question, What is brandy? analytically 730 of aldehyde.
speaking, still awaits solution.
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