Vista Spectrophotometer Improves Color Quality Control for Vodka Distilleries

I was at a bar with a Russian friend the other day. He ordered us some premium vodka, and it was so smooth that I almost forgot how alcoholic it was! This got me thinking about how the vodka I drank in college wasn’t good vodka. My friends and I (and much of the student body) would buy one of many different brands of what was all essentially the same rotgut. For about ten dollars, we could purchase 1.75 liters of this clear, syrupy liquid in a plastic bottle. I know it was distilled, at least a few times. However, when you drank it, although you couldn’t see them, you could feel on your tongue little bits of—something—floating around in there. Maybe that’s why it tasted so bad.

Popov vodka
You know it’s the right stuff when it comes in a plastic handle. Image credit: Flickr User Kim+5 (CC BY 2.0)

 

Brand Consistency for Vodka Distilleries

 

Not all vodka comes in plastic handles, and even if it does, quality control is an essential element of the production process. After repeated distillation, manufacturers subject their batches to a battery of QC tests designed to ensure color clarity, transparency, and the flavor is consistent with their brand. Only after passing this regimen is the vodka bottled and shipped to distributors.

 

The reason for this is obvious: brand consistency. A major selling point for middle and top-shelf vodka companies is their comparative quality and distinctive flavor, or lack thereof. Should they ship out batches of off-color vodka, customers are likely to choose a different option off the shelf. These customers will also remember the decision and will be more likely to choose another brand in the future. That holds true even if the batch in front of them is the color it’s supposed to be.

 

Customers won’t notice haze or strange flavors until after they’ve bought the bottle, or received a drink at the bar. However, they’ll remember the experience and will be more likely to choose a different brand the next time they’re looking for a drink. Quality control then is not only important for the immediate batch, but to safeguard the reputation of every other future batch as well.

Vodka being sold
Makers of high-quality vodka rely on instrumental color quality control to differentiate their products. Image Credit: Flickr User James Hubley (CC BY 2.0)

 

Instrumental Color and Haze Measurement Ensures Vodka Quality Control

 

With their brand’s reputation at stake, vodka producers rely on transmission spectrophotometers and haze measurement instruments to ensure that their liquor is the right color and completely transparent. These instruments measure color and haze, respectively, using similar methods. They pass a controlled beam of light through a transparent liquid and record any changes in the light as it hits a detector on the other side. Quality control technicians place the sample into the instrument, take the measurement, and observe the result displayed on the instrument’s screen. It is a straightforward method for determining if the sample color (or lack thereof) is within acceptable tolerances.

vodka with city backdrop
Quality and luxury are top selling points of high-quality vodkas. Image Credit: Flickr User AnestesiA Vodka (CC BY 2.0)

 

Benefits and Drawbacks of Color and Haze Measurement Instruments

 

Due to their improved reliability and precision over human observers, color and haze measurement instruments have become the industry standard for quality control of transparent liquids. However, that’s not to say these instruments don’t have drawbacks.

 

For one, their large size crowds up benchtop space in small laboratories, which is especially onerous for small to mid-size craft distilleries. Also, they often require a connection to a nearby PC to store saved color standards, display results or transfer data to a company server. Other aspects are outdated as well, such as the need to calibrate the instrument daily with a set of colored disks.

 

Recognizing the need for improvement, at HunterLab, we’ve designed Vista, a single instrument capable of measuring both transmission color and haze simultaneously. Not only does it replace two instruments with one, it’s also significantly smaller than either earlier machine. Despite its small size, its modern processor is capable of storing saved standards and transmitting data without the need for a PC. Also, its large touchscreen display makes reading measurement data fast and simple. It doesn’t need colored disks, either—it can calibrate automatically at the touch of a button.

 

To read more about how Vista can improve your distillery’s quality control processes, contact us today to speak with one of our friendly, knowledgeable sales professionals.

Vista Color and Haze Spectrophotometer Ensures Bottled Water Clarity and Color Quality

Have you ever been out in the wilderness and had to rely on natural sources of water? If you have then you know that it is a bad idea to consume still water that’s been sitting in a pond or a lake. The lower the elevation, the higher the chance of contracting a stomach bug. It’s prudent to treat any water from a stream or lake with an iodine tablet, but here’s the catch. Water that’s been treated with iodine looks far less appealing than the sparkling water that nature has offered up to you. It’s hard not to take a sip of it; though, in the end, you’ll be by your toilet regretting your life.

 

Watercolor, or the lack-there-of, has an effect on people’s perception of its cleanliness and drinkability.  That’s why bottled water manufacturer’s know how that their brand’s success relies on consistently providing customers with transparent and colorless products.

 

waterfall into a stream
But it looks so fresh and drinkable! Image Credit: Flickr User tobo

 

Perception of Cleanliness and Safety Is Essential for Bottled Water Manufacturers

 

When the public perceives that its water supply is not safe1 , it’s good business for the bottled water industry. Sales of bottled water spiked when Flint became aware of its contamination2. As fracking stirred fears of water contamination in Pennsylvania (spurred by an image of burning tap water in Gasland), residents began subsisting entirely on bottled water, for eating, for cooking, and even for showering. People buy bottled water because it is safe, and it is clean.

 

As a result, bottled water manufacturers have a vested interest in maintaining the public perception that their water is clean and safe. If contamination is perceived or discovered in a brand–if a customer noticed that one particular case of water was more yellow than others–that brand’s credibility would be in serious jeopardy. That’s why bottled water manufacturers rely on transmission spectrophotometers to ensure that their water seems safe to drink. As every company producing bottled water is essentially selling the same product—water is water—the strength of a company’s bottled water line is entirely dependent on brand credibility and customer loyalty. To endanger either is to endanger the entire product line. By testing the color and haze of their water before it is bottled and distributed, manufacturers can ensure their credibility.

 

bottled water
Bottled water must maintain an impression of cleanliness and safety to remain competitive. Image Credit: Flickr User Techmsg (CC BY 2.0)

 

Vista Ensures Water Color And Haze Conforms to Quality Standards


Transmission spectrophotometers assess the color of transparent or translucent liquids by passing light through a sample and measuring it on the other side. Like the human eye, they record color as a function of the full spectrum of visible light. Any tint in the water can be rapidly detected. From there, the issue can be isolated, the root cause discovered, and the process corrected. This ensures that all water leaving the bottling plant is “water white.”

 

Of course, color is not the only indicator of water quality. Clarity is of equal importance. Any particulate matter affecting the transparency of water will be noticed by customers. Whether or not these particulates pose health hazards, the sight of them alone will drive customers to a clearer brand of water. Naturally, bottlers employ haze measurement instruments as well as spectrophotometers to ascertain the quality of their water.

 

Traditionally, these have been separate instruments, requiring quality control technicians to subject each sample to two separate tests. However, HunterLab has recently introduced the Vista, a transmission and haze spectrophotometer, which is the first instrument capable of measuring color and haze simultaneously. By measuring both at once, this instrument cuts measurement time in half frees up valuable benchtop space in the laboratory and reduces the ongoing costs of ownership by halving maintenance costs. To learn more about how the Vista can improve the quality assurance processes of your bottled water plant, contact the experts at HunterLab.

  1. “America’s Tap Water: Too Much Contamination, Not Enough Reporting, Study Finds.” 2017, https://www.nytimes.com/2017/05/04/us/tapwater-drinking-water-study.html?module=WatchingPortal&region=c-column-middle-span-region&pgType=Homepage&action=click&mediaId=thumb_square&state=standard&contentPlacement=19&version=internal&contentCollection=www.nytimes.com&contentId=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.nytimes.com%2F2017%2F05%2F04%2Fus%2Ftapwater-drinking-water-study.html&eventName=Watching-article-click&_r=0
  2. “Flint water crisis fast facts,” 2017, http://www.cnn.com/2016/03/04/us/flint-water-crisis-fast-facts/
ASBC Beer Color and Turbidity

ASBC Color

The ASBC Beer Color scale has a range of approximately 1 to 11 units, with the more yellow, pale worts at the low end of the scale and the redder color of dark worts, beers and caramels at the upper end of the scale.

The industry reference method for ASBC Beer Color and Turbidity Is:

ASBC Beer-10 Color of Beer Part A. Spectrophotometric Color Method available from ASBC – American Society of Brewing Chemists, affiliated with AACC – American Association of Cereal Chemists, St. Paul, MN USA www.scisoc.org/aacc. Continue reading

Do you have a source for Transparent Liquid Haze Standards?

HunterLab Distributor FAQ: “I have a new pharma customer doing color measurements.  They also want to do haze measurements and we had a discussion about haze standards.  Would our plastic haze standards be fine or is there a liquid haze standard out there?” Continue reading