Friday, 9 September 2011

Not to be outdone, Alcohol Control have one too.

I visited Treherbert once. Once was enough. It's nestled in a valley between sheer mountains so the sun rises at about 10 am in summer and it's gone by 3 pm. It's tiny and there is nothing to attract visitors. The only abundant natural resource is sheep shit.

So a local madman has been making paper out of it. He's doing well, too. Surprisingly well. Who would have thought there'd be any demand from paper made of shit? Well, it's ideal for writing to MPs, I suppose. Especially if you tell them it's edible rice-paper.

Oh, but the man's inventiveness goes beyond shitpaper, oh yes indeed. He built a still to make his own vodka. That didn't go so well. So he's blown up one of the few houses in Treherbert's only street.

One of the residents brings forth the Cheeldren, naturally...

Neighbour Susan Minty, 52, said: 'He was definitely old enough to know better - he's going to wake up with one hell of a hangover.
'It's crazy, you don't go making something like that in a terrance street especially when there's lots of kids about.

The name sounds familiar. She might have been at school with me. She's quoted so the misspelling of 'terraced' is down to the ineptitude of the journalist. As for her claim of 'lots of kids', well, go and have a look at Treherbert. There aren't very many people at all.

But crazy? The man makes paper out of sheep shit, and she considers a still 'crazy'? I would think that the still is one of the more mainstream things he's been doing in there.

What I found very interesting was the reaction of the police -

'It's not a criminal offence to brew your own alcohol for private use, unless it's being carried out without licence for commercial benefit.

Well, I knew that was true for beer and wine, but distillation? I had thought that was illegal full stop. When we had glass stills in labs, for producing distilled water, we had regular visits from the revenue men to sniff them in case we were making booze. It doesn't happen any more because we have reverse-osmosis for cleaning up the tap water for experiments and you can't make booze with those. Maybe it's different in Scotland?

There'll be a lot more of this amateur distillation happening, legal or not. That's all thanks to Darth Shenker and his merry band of evil bastards, backed up as usual by the BMA which used to be a medical institution but is now a political party you can't vote out.

So, ASH score one death today, the Shenkerites score one serious burning, and the BMA can claim credit for both.

They'll be partying tonight.

Incidentally, the local madman in question is pictured in front of something I remember well from my early youth in the 1960s. We had one of those fire/oven combos in our council house, and his looks original. I wouldn't mind having one of those now. Cooking without electricity or gas charges. Sounds good.


banned said...

O will be amond the first seeking illicit booze once they introduce rationing 'for my own good'.
Lawrence Toms will be revered as a hero and prophet.

banned said...

"I" :)

Leg-iron said...



You won't have to look far, I'll bet. The smoky-drinkies will become speakeasies at the drop of a fag-end ;)

JuliaM said...

"Well, I knew that was true for beer and wine, but distillation?"

I thought that was verboten too. One thing for sure, you can bet HMRC will be up there expecting the government's cut!

Woodsy42 said...

They use the word 'brew' in place of distillation in the article. How long before they try and confuse the two so that brewing can be banned as dangerous?

Macheath said...

I too thought it was illegal; in fact, the idea added a certain spice to the products of the kitchen still built by my university flat-mate from pieces he filched from the labs - as did the brass tubing he used in error. Turns out, though, that distilling without a licence is a civil rather than criminal offence.

According to my source, 'If you do and are caught you will be liable to pay the duty on the alcohol in the spirits you make (currently £19.56 per litre) and to pay a fine of whichever is the greater of £250 and 5% of the duty payable. (Finance Act 1994 s9(2)).'

Since I'm sure HMRC have better things to do than track down those home distillers who manage to avoid blowing themselves up, I take this to be good news indeed: I'm now looking forward to turning some of the Tavern home-brew cider into calvados later this year.

Dr Evil said...

We used to get the big still checked out too. but not the small ones or the Leibig condensers. You can disctill home made wine with even these basic pieces of glassware should you have the time. A nice eutectic mixture is virtually rocket fuel. No neeed to dewater it!

Anonymous said...

Curious... How many sheep droppings are being presented to Prince Charles such that someone sees the potential of making paper from them?


Hye said...

Most homebrew shops these days stock all the equipment and sundries for distilling. New Zealand legalised it for home consumption some years back, and they export the stuff everywhere now. Google 'Still Spirits'.

Anonymous said...

Seems to me that the 'verboten' is what caused the problem. Were it not for that, home brew (sorry, distillation) shops could provide safe equipment.
I suspect that the verboten has more to so with taxation than safety. Much the same applies to growing tobacco plants - no problem until you make the tobacco 'smokable'; at which point, in theory, the taxman wants hundreds of pounds off you. But it seems that the taxman does not intend to chase people up about it. I am growing some tobacco plants. I doubt that the product will ever be considered 'smokable', in the sense of 'palatable', to anyone other than me. I doubt that I will ever be able to grow enough to supply my own needs, but if I was a non-smoker with a big garden...........

selsey.steve said...

Mampoer, the 'witblitz' from South Africa. Use the dead, bruised broken peaches from any supermarket (I get mine by pleading that they're for the birds!).
Mash all fruit thoroughly, remove stones. Add sugar. Do NOT bottle at this stage as you'll make hand grenades.
Bottle (usual sterilization techniques)with gas traps in the neck of the bottles.
When bubbles have ceased, distill. I use copper tube within copper tube to do this. Large bore copper pipe with a cold water flow, encasing the narrow bore copper tube carrying the vapours from the boiling "wine".
Mind-blowing result!

Leg-iron said...

JuliaM - The Scots have centuries of practice at dodging the revenue men ;)

Woodsy42 - it's becoming a recognised tactic. Confuse the already-illegal with the currently-legal. That's why tobacco is so often spoken in the same breath as cocaine, and why so many people really believe it's illegal to grow it.

The current urge to check whether someone is over 21 (or 23 in sonme cases) when buying booze, even though the legal age is 18, is getting a lot of people used to the idea that they need to be 21 to have booze.

It's slow and insidious.

Leg-iron said...

MacHeath - we used freeze-distillation. No fumes and no flames.

The revenuers aren't likely to bother unless you're selling it.

As with the tobacco mentioned by Junican, if all you make is for your own use then it would cost HMRC more in fuel to get to your house than they'd get back in duty.

With both booze and tobacco, selling it would draw attention and they'd feel obliged to act. Otherwise it's a loss-making venture.

The only other reason to chase down those with five or so tobacco plants would be spite. I wouldn't rule that out.

Leg-iron said...

Chalcedon - add in a round flask and electric heater and there's no open flame either ;)

Leg-iron said...

RSP - He might be full of them by now. He certainly sounds as if he is.

Leg-iron said...

Hye, Junican - true, if it was declared legal then we'd have access to safe equipment. But here in the UK we are dealing with authorities who operate more on spite than on sense. Just look at the rules for smoking shelters.

Leg-iron said...

Selseysteve - I have an overload of plums. Hmm...

Slamlander said...

Freez distillation works but doesn't get the same taste. Something about freezing out assorted aromatics has something to do with it.

In any case, if all you want is alcohol; make a mash, let it ferment, a bottle of liquid nitrogen, and Bob's your uncle.

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