Spirits and Liquors – Rich Flavours by Ultrasonic Infusion

Infusing alcoholic beverages such as spirits, liquors and cocktails with flavours can be improved significantly by application of power ultrasound. The sonication process transfers flavours and aromas to alcoholic beverages creating a rich and smooth flavour profile.

How does Ultrasonic Infusion of Alcoholic Beverages Work?

Ultrasonic infusion of alcoholic beverages such as spirits, liquors and cocktails results in rich flavour profiles.Ultrasonic infusion is a process in which ultrasound waves at frequencies of approx. 20 kHz are used to accelerate the infusion of flavours and ingredients into an liquid. As ultrasonic infusion offers several benefits, the process of sonication is used to extract flavours from a variety of ingredients and to infuse alcoholic beverages with additional flavours.
For the infusion process, a probe-type ultrasonicator transmits the sound waves into the liquid. High-intensity, low-frequency ultrasound waves create minute vacuum bubbles in the liquid. These tiny bubbles rapidly grow over several cycles of rarefaction and compression. When the cavities reach a size where they cannot absorb any further energy, they implode violently, creating the phenomenon of acoustic cavitation. The energy created by the collapsing bubbles extracts flavours from botanicals and plants, and subsequently dissolves and incorporate flavours and ingredients into the liquid with superior efficiency in very short time. Thereby, ultrasonication allows to infuse beverages rapidly with a rich flavour profile. The ultrasonic infusion technique is already used in commercial production of beverages, spirits, teas, coffees as well as liquid foods.

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Distilled spirits and alcoholic beverages benefit from extraction and infusion by ultrasonication. The UIP500hdT is a widely used ultrasonicator for alcoholic infusions.

Ultrasonicator UIP500hdT is used for the infusion of distilled spirits and liquors. Ultrasonic extraction and infusion creates rich flavour profiles in beverages.

Ultrasonic extraction systems are used to extract gingerol and other health-promoting compounds from ginger. The video shows the UP100H at ginger extraction.

Ultrasonic Extraction of Dried Ginger using the UP100H

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Sped-up Whiskey Ageing via Ultrasound

Ageing whiskey and other distilled spirits can be accelerated by agitation of the whiskey. Ultrasound waves provide intense agitation and improved mass transfer between wood barrel and alcoholic beverages. By the purely mechanical treatment using ultrasonication, the chemical reactions, which let mature whiskey naturally and occur very slowly during conventional ageing, are accelerated and intensified. Thereby, within seconds alcoholic beverages can be enhanced offering the same elaborated flavour profile of spirits aged for several year in barrels. As spirits are exposed to ultrasound waves during the infusion process, the beverage gets not only infused with flavours (e.g. herbs, ginger etc.) but acquires at the same time also a more matured original taste.
Read more about ultrasonic maturation of distilled spirits, liquors and wine!

Example: Peanut Butter Whiskey Produced via Ultrasonic Infusion

There are a few ways to infuse alcohol such as whiskey, rum or vodka with peanut butter flavour. One way is to mix peanut butter with a spirit, such as whiskey, and let the mixture sit for a longer period of time to allow the flavours to combine. You can also try adding peanut butter to whiskey or rum and shaking it well to incorporate the flavours. All these conventional methods are time-consuming and highly prone to separation meaning a heavier part falls out and builds a sediment at the bottom even after the removal step of solids.
Ultrasonic mixing is a very effective method to transfer flavours from aromatic substrates (e.g. peanut butter, herbs etc.) to alcohol. When intense ultrasound waves are introduced into liquid (e.g. alcohol), the phenomenon of acoustic cavitation occurs. Cavitation is characterized by very energy-dense conditions including locally occurring high pressures and temperatures, shear forces and liquid streaming. These intense physical forces provide excellent mixing and mass transfer between to phases. For the production of peanut butter whiskey or liquor, this means that the flavours of peanut butter are highly efficiently transferred to the alcoholic base. The result of ultrasonic infusion is an intensely flavoured alcoholic beverage. Additionally, the superior mixing technique provides a high stability against separation.
Another option is to make an ultrasonically infused peanut butter liqueur by combining equal parts peanut butter and sugar with a neutral spirit and sonicate it before straining out any solids and bottling the mixture.
You can adjust the ratio of peanut butter to alcohol and/or sonication time to achieve the desired flavour profile. Ultrasonication is also known to smooth alcoholic beverages giving the are matured and aged flavour profile.

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High Performance Ultrasonicators

Hielscher Ultrasonics’ industrial ultrasonic processors can deliver very high amplitudes. Amplitudes of up to 200µm can be easily continuously run in 24/7 operation. For even higher amplitudes, customized ultrasonic sonotrodes are available.
The table below gives you an indication of the approximate processing capacity of our ultrasonicators:

Batch Volume Flow Rate Recommended Devices
1 to 500mL 10 to 200mL/min UP100H
10 to 2000mL 20 to 400mL/min UP200Ht, UP400St
0.1 to 20L 0.2 to 4L/min UIP2000hdT
10 to 100L 2 to 10L/min UIP4000hdT
15 to 150L 3 to 15L/min UIP6000hdT
n.a. 10 to 100L/min UIP16000
n.a. larger cluster of UIP16000

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Ultrasonic high-shear homogenizers are used in lab, bench-top, pilot and industrial processing.

Hielscher Ultrasonics manufactures high-performance ultrasonic homogenizers for mixing applications, dispersion, emulsification and extraction on lab, pilot and industrial scale.

TDegassing and defoaming of liquids is an interesting application of ultrasonic devices. In this case the ultrasound removes dissolved CO2 from beer. Using Hielscher ultrasonic equipment you can degas or defoam liquids in beakers, tanks or inline (flow cell reactors).

Rapid Foaming Using Ultrasonics

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High performance ultrasonics! Hielscher's product range covers the full spectrum from the compact lab ultrasonicator over bench-top units to full-industrial ultrasonic systems.

Hielscher Ultrasonics manufactures high-performance ultrasonic homogenizers from lab to industrial size.

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