29

This is just out of curiosity...

I mean if you distill beer, you get whiskey... if you distill wine, you get cognac/brandy... if you distill fermented molasses, you get rum... if you distill fermented agave, you get tequila... if you distill apple-cider, you get calvados (if you happen to live in Calvados, France)... if you distill fermented horse-milk (kumiss), you'll probably regret it...

But what do you get if you distill (honey-) mead? Does it even have a specific name?

I'm obviously not thinking about distilling and filtering it into oblivion, at which point you'd end-up with (something like) vodka... I'm thinking about what you would get if you distilled it in a pot-still, wanting the base (here mead) to impart flavor to the finished spirit.

  • 2
    and not in answer to the original question, but as an aside...I just did exactly this with half blackberry mead and half orange blossom and it tastes very good...the flavor of the both the honeys came thru, but very lightly as you might imagine. After it ages and mellows a bit, I hope that it's not so "hot" – madman Jul 13 '13 at 16:31
  • 10
    I think "Honeymoonshine" would be a cool name... – user3730 Aug 16 '13 at 17:02
  • 2
    I've heard of it by the name honeyshine. Never had any any but I am working on a batch now. coppermoonshinestills.com/id28.html – user8176 Sep 6 '14 at 20:48
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    FYI, if you ferment Kumyss, you will get araka or arkhi. It is actually more like vodka, and very soft. – Trigger Apr 30 '15 at 22:07
  • So why not just call it Honeyshine? – user13085 Dec 26 '15 at 17:18

24 Answers 24

18

A while ago I visited a local meadery and chatted with the brewer (meader?). He was planning on making use of a local micro-distiller's equipment to produce a spirit from his mead. I asked him the name of the resulting product, and his answer was "distilled mead".

Not the answer I was hoping for.

I've never tasted such a thing and suspect that the subtle floral qualities that make mead interesting would be lost in the distillation process. I see that there's a fortified mead in the product list but from the description it sounds like it's fortified with neutral spirits.

  • 2
    I think "distilled mead" is the correct answer, but if the mead is freeze distilled, then it is called honey jack (and freeze-distilled cider is called apple jack). – Chino Brews Aug 12 '14 at 22:05
  • Cider jack is called Icecider in Canada (as in Icewine). Distilled mead seems about right, – Philippe Nov 2 '15 at 15:49
  • "honey jack" is the term for freeze-distilled mead – DaFi4 Jun 8 '16 at 14:11
11

According to Wikipedia there doesn't appear to be much in the way of a family name for it: Mead (Wikipedia).

I think the closest would be "Midus"

Midus: Lithuanian for mead, made of natural bee honey and berry juice. Infused with carnation blossoms, acorns, poplar buds, juniper berries and other herbs, it is often made as a mead distillate or mead nectar, some of the varieties having as much as 75% of alcohol.

  • Interesting... it sounds like a mead that is made with berries, distilled, and then has the other stuff infused in it. Or does the infusion happen before distillation? – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner May 15 '13 at 18:00
  • 1
    That same article also mentions "honey jack" which looks like mead that's gone through freeze-distillation. – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner May 15 '13 at 18:02
  • Honey Jack is the same principle of Cider Jack, you freeze off the water. I'm not sure on the specifics of Midus, you'll need to research. – Doug Edey May 15 '13 at 18:41
  • I found this: madeinlithuania.lt/… It suggests that for at least one of the beverages, the mead is distilled 4 times and then flavoured (see 2nd-last paragraph). – FrustratedWithFormsDesigner May 15 '13 at 18:54
7

Assuming that all of the proceeding is accurate, would it not just be a "honey brandy"? I can imagine a very sweet flavor with an interesting aroma and probably fairly drinkable if not pleasant flavor.

I know that mead was popular in Egypt, Turkey, etc. since the dawn of civilization and you can't be the first person in human history to think of this so I am going to do some research and check back tomorrow.

  • Mead unfortunately not really popular in turkey, not sure about Egypt though – Yamaç Kurtuluş Sep 7 '18 at 20:08
7

I once heard a name for this called "drakas"(spelling). As told it was a Norse drink made by placing a bowl of honey mead outside overnight. In the morning, chip off the ice and repeat a few times untill a thick drink was the result.

6

I have my own family recipe that I have recently cooked off made from clover honey. We have always called it honeydew whiskey even though it does not meet description standards of whiskey. Its what I have heard several old timers call it

5

Aguardente de mel is what we call it in portuguese... Literal translation to english is Honey's burning water

4

After I made my still, I was anxious to get started distilling. I had a five gallon carboy of strawberry mead that was made to about 15% ABV and was less than a year old,so I used that. It was wonderful right off the still, with flavors from both the strawberries and the honey. I double distilled, using a stripping run and a spirit run. It was good clear, but then I aged the distillate at cask strength on french oak chips in a gallon glass jug, and it soon became a delightful mead brandy. I have made a number of other mead brandies since. I can't find a traditional name for it, but it is really good!

4

This is a great debate!

While i personally lean on the side of calling distilled mead a honey brandy, i would agree with most people that commented so far. There isn't a clear category in which to fit a honey-sourced distilled alcohol.

The average person is likely to view mead as a honey-based wine. But, this is not technically correct since a wine is made from fruit, specifically grapes. Nor is mead a rum, since rum is sourced from sugars extracted from a plant such as sugar cane or beets.

While bees make honey from drinking nectar, they also transform it through partial digestion, mix some pollen and enzymes in the process, evaporate it and then regurgitate the mixture into honey comb cells. This qualifies honey as an animal-based sugar source. So, technically, honey would be closer to other animal-based sugar sources like maltose in milk, and might be better recognized scientifically as a kumiss. But, personally i hate that name, and i doubt that it would have good marketting value either.

For what it is worth, i did come across a commercial name for a British alcohol distilled from mead, called the "Ninemaidens". The company web site (www.foodfromcornwall.co.uk) has the following description: "It is a crystal clear, vibrant spirit with a floral, honeyed bouquet and a warm rounded finish. 40% alcohol by volume. The name 'Gwires' (pronounced gwi'rez) is taken from the Cornish word meaning alcoholic spirit, and it is produced by distilling the highest quality mead."

So, perhaps Gwires is another contender for the title of distilled mead!?

3

There is nothing new. Distilled mead is called "mead balsam", at least in Lithuania, where "midus" (mead) was an ancient drink, later one factory tried to distill it. Please google for such drinks as "Suktinis" or "Zalgiris" (which is 75% strong)...Also see midus.lt

In my personal opinion, mead (real matured mead, and the best mead shall be matured at least for 10 years, Lithuanian nobility used to drink mead matured over 50 years) is a too good drink to distill. But I myself tried two times - after some failures making mead itself - the result was really good.

2

When I have distilled mead, I have called it "Mead Moonshine" when un-oaked and either "Mead Whiskey" or "Mead Brandy" when oaked.

Although the name "Mead whiskey" is not very accurate, the product tastes more like whiskey than brandy to me.

If you were to make mead with some fruit (pears, strawberry's, oranges etc) I would go with "Mead(& <fruit>) Brandy" or "<fruit> & Honey Brandy"

If you have added lots of spices/botanicals etc then I would just go with (mead) gin (No idea how mead gin would taste though; will keep you posted as it is on my to do list)

Alternatively we could coin a new term based on Latin/Gaelic (Similar to how brandy can be called aqua vitae)

  • Mellific brandy
  • Vigor melle
  • Mellis Animae <- Personal pick
  • Mel almas <- Other Personal pick (Gaelic)
  • Alma de mel <- Gaelic
  • Aguardente de mel <- Gaelic

(I used google translate, dont shoot me if I got it wrong)

2

I would like to argue that distilled mead is not a brandy product as brandy is distilled wine and i believe the distinction for wine is a fermentation from fruit or berries. Honey is a sugar product and its my opinion that it should therefore be considered a Rum.

2

I grew up making beer, hard cider(a type of wine), applejack(concentrated hard cider through freezing) and wine at home. My father's friends made corn whiskey and gin. I have done hours of internet searches about various alcohols and have come to these conclusions. Whiskey is distilled from beer(Beer is from fermented grains). Brandy is distilled from wine(Wine is from fermented fruit). Rum is from fermented sugar cane or molasses. Arrack is distilled from fermented sap. Vodka is distilled from apparently anything that ferments except milk or honey and is not aged(basically a moonshine). Gin and Absinthe are merely flavored or infused neutral alcohols. Having described all that let us discuss the question. Just let me say mead is not a brandy, because mead is not wine("Aguardente de mel" means "honey brandy" in Portuguese) Mead is from fermented honey. They have many different classifications of mead depending on what you add during the fermentation process but it is still mead. "FrustratedWithForms" made an excellent observation about honeyjack. To me that is the correct term when mead is "freeze distilled " or even "drakas"(from the Norse as taken from the post above). But "freeze distilling" is not really distillation , it is concentration. That is why distilled hard cider is called apple brandy not applejack. The closest type of alcohol to mead is indeed kumiss(Kumiss is from fermented mare's milk). Both mead and kumiss are derived from animal products. Having searched for the answer to:"What is distilled mead called?" I have determined that it has yet to be named. Darcy Thomas from the above post had the right idea. We must coin a new term. But not based off any of the old terms. The name must stand on its own as mead does.

2

Well if we were going to vote on it mine would be Midus. It has been said a few times here and I think it's the most appropriate. It stands on it's own and doesn't need brandy, whisky, jack, or anything else acting as a crutch. Also it usually has that nice golden color so it makes a nice parallel with King Midus from Greek mythology that turned everything he touched into gold.

2

I went looking for this answer and found the following:

Although Ninemaidens Gwires is a marketed brand for distilled mead, it is not a true name for this liquor as Gwires is a generic term used for 'alcoholic spirit'.

However; I found Medovača (pronounced medovacha) in Croatia.

This is not a faux version of Honey Brandy (ie: clean spirit like vodka or rakija with honey mixed in for flavouring) which is also available and sold as Medica (medi-tsa); but rather Medovača is a true distillation of basic honey mead with no additional honey mixed into it.

The end product is as you would expect, a crystal clear brandy with very smooth and subtle honey flavours both on the tongue and after swallowing.

Its worth noting that the appearance of MED in the title is how you say honey in Croatian and as such this name is unique to this spirit and not a generic term like Gwires.

Considering the time and cost it takes to make good mead of high enough ABV for distillation, its no surprise that its not a commonly known beverage.

2

In the US by law it can not be called brandy or whiskey or rum, or any other standard category. It is a "distilled spirit specialty", to which one can fix a "fanciful name" and a "description". We at Quincy Street Distillery1 have made such a spirit for 5 years, just distilled mead, we call it "honey spirit", which also happens to be the European Union official category for this kind of spirit. Our fanciful name is "Wildflower Honey Spirit" and the brand name is "Prairie Sunshine™". There are some European variants, as discussed here, most are fairly modern. Only older example I am aware of is making "rum" from honey in the Canary Islands.

1

So I have a little different take on this. Just informational because I think it is so interesting how names emerge.

My grandfather gave me most of the terminology that I use in the fermenting and distillation of things. He called once distilled hard cider and frozen concentrated hard cider by the same name-- applejack. Once it was put through the second distillation cycle he and his buddies called it moonshine. They sometimes distilled three times and it got really clear, when you shook it... basically no bubbles.

He called fermented mead brandy because he used wine making yeast and considered mead a form of wine, of course he also put all manner of fruit in his mead too.

1

Just to contribute, we´re making distilled spirits from mead here in Brasil and we´re calling it something like "Pot Still Mead" or Hidromel de Alambique in Portuguese.

Another consideration is directed to @J Shane Jacobs: the spirit from distilling molasses is rum. But the spirit from fresh sugar cane wine is called Cachaça (if produced in Brasil) and Rum Agricole if produced anywhere else.

1
  1. Mead is thousands of years old.

  2. The word Mead or Honey( from the Slavic word "Myod" (Me-yo-d) or honey)

Why we use the Slavic word I can only guess but I have an idea.... Mead was from the south I.E. Eygpt - Greece. Constantinople had a strong trading relationship with Russia and it was exported to Europe from Russia

  1. Mead wine, beer or Distilled it is called "Medavoha" from honey. Mostly served on Easter. The really good stuff is hard to find. A lot of people just infuse cheap vodka with honey as a substitute (major hangover but so good). It is a Russian/Ukrainian/Slav Drink "For the king's table" an old Russian/Ukrainian/Slav saying.

  2. Henceforth you have it in Uga-Slavia or (southern Slavs, who moved down south about 1000 years ago) which is where you get the Croatian/Serbian (ex-Yugoslavia) word "Medovacha"

I'm making some now. The yeast takes a long time to settle. Right now I'm making 2 beers with it using Saf-brew T-58 and S-23 lager. One month in and the brewing finally slowed down a bit to one bubble every 6 seconds. Now it's time to rack.

I have 5 other yeast I'm going to try

Lavin R2 WLP099 Mangrove jacks M05 smack pack from Wyeast 3278 still spirits Rum still spirits Whisky

I will probably try to distil it like whiskey to keep as much of the flavor as possible. Instead of using stainless steel which strips much of the flavor I will use copper alembic pot still top on top of a grain master at about 110 C

any hints would be very welcome.

One last point The US President Carter made distilling for one's own personal use Legal! Some states have made provisional laws which require licenses. Most states don't care!

  • In reference to Medavoha, is this similar to krupnik? My family heritage is Slavic and we make krupnik every Christmas and sometimes at Easter. We make it by boiling honey, cinnamon, cloves, vanilla, nutmeg, and some lemon peel in water. Later, when the mixture cools, we add good potato vodka. – thekolnik Jan 28 '17 at 0:30
  • Same here although we do not boil or heat the honey as that will pasteurize it and get rid of some of the aroma and other tasty stuff. we first mix hot water with cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and vanilla. Be careful not to add too much cinnamon, cloves, or nutmeg, they can over powering. Let it cool down. Then we add as much honey as we like to the "warm water", the same amount as you would add in your tea. Although I mentioned this in the post above: It can lead to a major hangover. Unfermented with fermented sugars is dangerous stuff and typically call firrewater for that reason. – Peter the Russian Feb 27 '17 at 16:23
1

Bumped into this discussion, just want to point out that a local Czech distiller Žufánek has such a product in his portfolio:

http://www.lepsinalada.cz/247-medovy-zufanek-05l/

The name of the product is "Medový", which is an adjective form of the Czech word "med" that simply means honey.

However, this particular product is a licqueur, that means it is not a pure, straight distillate, but rarther a mead distillate flavored with honey.

Disclaimer - I am not in any way affiliated with Mr. Žufánek's distillery, and this is not an advertisement campaign, I just used this example to point out that the discussed distillate is produced commercially and has a name (however improvised and local).

By the way, the same distiller also produces an absinthe called "Mead Base Absinthe" that uses mead distillate as the base alcohol of choice, rather than the more common grain or grape neutral spirit.

1

I call it honey shine.

110° C would be a good temperature for a stripping run but you will get a lot of water with your shine. If you want a really good tasting shine to use a copper pot still and run it at 85°C until it starts to slow the run then slowly bring the heat up until you reach 98°C to 99°C, I never run the still over 99°C.

I use 1 gal of honey to 4 gals of water in a 6 gal carboy dissolved at 70°C and then cooled to 21°C then I add a sake yeast. I let it ferment for 2 weeks then I add a distillers yeast and let it sit for another 4 weeks. Keep the temperature between 21°C and 23°C while fermenting and it gets me about 25-30% ABV.

Then I add a clarifier and let sit for 3-5 days. It is still cloudy, but the pot still doesn’t care. Just still it low and slow. I let it run until my proof is about 110 and don’t cut it. You will get a mellow crystal clear shine that is a little sweet and tastes like the honey you used with no burn in the back of your throat.

I have aged it in a new white oak lightly chard 5 gallon barrel for 5 years at 110P and it is the most pleasant spirit I have ever tasted. Think of a French cognac only smoother and sweeter (best 40th B-day ever) but that takes a lot of restraint. It is good enough to drink right out of the still. I usally get about a gallon, but every year the honey is different and every year the shine tastes different.

I run about 8 batches a year and share with friends and never have a drop left when I start stilling the next batch of shine.

0

This is for consideration to Mauricio Maia. First thank you for the name given to the "spirit from fresh sugar cane wine". Always interesting to learn names of new (to me) types of alcohol. As I think about what you said I tried to classify it. I can see that I was incorrect in saying rum is from sugar cane. Molasses is a by product of refining sugar cane. You are correct. Rum is from molasses only. I believe that Cachaça would be considered a type of arrack. I say this because the juice from sugar cane is not from a fruit, but is in fact, the sap of the plant. As far as the "fresh sugar cane wine " goes; I don't think it would be classified as a wine. It is not from fruit. But apparently, we need a name for fermented sap as well as distilled mead! LOL!

0

Just one more answer to the already long litany of responses to this question.

Found a reference online the another day of someone referring to distilled mead as Mead Brandy. For what its worth, the Home Distillation of Alcohol even gives a recipe of how to make Mead Brandy!

Mead Brandy

Jacks recipe for Mead Brandy ...

I think this would be close to the ancestral roots of Krupnik (the honey sweetened vodka). First step: make mead

Per gallon (4L):

Three (3) pounds of honey

One teaspoon of yeast nutrient.

One tablespoon of acid blend.

Dissolve everything in the water - then pitch a dry champagne yeast (I prefer Lavlin's K1V-1116 over the EC-1118 because the '18 tends to develop a stale, brackish taste over time that can follow into the spirit). Once fermented till dry - distill twice in a potstill or just go by taste in a reflux still.

It's good as a clear spirit, but I prefer to water it to 40 to 45% and age it on a quarter teaspoon of charred American oak until it gets a Glenmorangie (10 year) gold color. This takes maybe a month in the bottle. Age it at this lower strength as vanillins tend to interfere with the honey aroma of the spirit, and the bitter - sweet taste of this wood tends to balance well with the honey - the sugars in the wood that are extracted at this low strength also tend to smoothen out the spirit.

0

I researched this very question in 1969 when I was in high school. My buddy and I fermented honey to make mead. Using chemistry set glassware we then distilled the mead to make: AQUA VITAE! The "Water of Life". We took a test tube of the Aqua Vitae to school and handed it to a friend. "It's the Water of Life!" we said. He immediately downed the whole test tube and got very goofy!

  • I have heard "Aqua vitae" for distilled wine as well... – Philippe Mar 18 '18 at 12:50
0

Apparently, a famous Italian grappa-producing family (Nonino) has been creating such kind of beverages for quite a while. They brand it Gioiello (italian for jewel) and the english version of ther website calls it honey distillate. I also came across names as honey vodka, honey moonshine, honeyshine, honey spirit, and distilled mead. Since it hasn't gained worldwide popularity (yet) it gasno official name. I personally like to call it honey spirit and am sipping on a glass of my own craft version as i type this.

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