Distillates 101: Benefits for Modern Food and Drinks

Distillates are potent flavoring ingredients you can use to enhance the taste of processed food and drinks. They offer complex flavors with countless uses and are popular ingredients in premium beverage formulations. This article dives into the distillation process, the benefits of using distillates over extracts, and how to craft richer flavor profiles and more aromatic recipes.
What is a Distillate, and How is it Made?
A distillate is a concentrated liquid substance obtained through a physical separation process called distillation. Distillation is one of the oldest food processing methods. It involves heating and vaporizing a mixture of two or more liquids, collecting the gas, and allowing it to condense into its liquid form. The condensed liquid is called a distillate.
This method works when the liquid mixture contains liquids with different boiling points – the most volatile component will vaporize first, allowing manufacturers to isolate it as a distillate.
Distillation vs Extraction in the Food Industry
Both distillation and extraction are valuable biotechnologies that allow us to isolate natural flavor and fragrance compounds from plants. While distillation involves mixing and vaporizing two liquids, extraction does not require heat and uses organic solvents to draw out the active ingredients from plant matter. Extracts can be obtained from solid raw materials, such as fruit or herbs, while distillates must come from liquids.
Five Benefits of Using Distillates in Food and Drinks

  1. Strong flavor
    Distillates have a more concentrated flavor than their plant sources, allowing manufacturers to use small quantities in processed food and beverage formulations.
  2. No impurities
    Distillates are pure liquids that do not contain solid plant matter that could offset the flavors or affect the formulation of processed foods and drinks.
  3. Precision flavor development
    Biotechnologists can isolate distinct flavor compounds through distillation, allowing them to create unique food and drink formulations with precision.
  4. Water soluble
    Distillates are ideal for flavoring beverages and other liquid products because they contain no alcohol and blend seamlessly with water-based formulas.
  5. No effect on food texture
    Using raw plant matter in a recipe alters its texture and moisture content – only a few drops of distilled flavoring enhance a food taste without significantly changing the chemical composition.

Popular Flavor Distillates and Where To Use Them

  • Coffee
    Coffee distillate has a dark, roasted flavor with a natural warmth that adds depth to food flavor profiles. You can use it to create richer coffee-based beverages, such as iced coffee, frappuccinos, milkshakes, and smoothies. It pairs well with creamy butter and chocolate.
  • Honey
    Honey distillate has a delicate floral flavor that balances acidic, herbal, and spicy flavors such as black pepper, mustard, and lime. Many studies suggest that honey has antimicrobial properties, making it a popular additive for cosmetics and skin care products.
  • Hemp
    Hemp distillate contains bioactive plant compounds that may have many health benefits. It offers an earthy and slightly nutty flavor that pairs well with rich fruits such as dates and bananas.
  • Almond
    Almond distillate has a slightly bitter, nutty flavor and aroma that is popular for flavored liqueurs, cocktails, and gins. Its sweet flavor is delicious, with vanilla, honey, and other sweet ingredients in desserts and baked goods.

Distillates are valuable additions for enhancing processed food and beverages with diverse natural flavors. They are more potent than extracts and do not contain alcohol or other organic solvents, making them more water-soluble, concentrated, and easier to use. Advanced Biotech is a leading supplier of natural distillates with many organic certified options from premium fruit, vegetables, nuts, and seeds. Please contact us for more information.