I have a hot and steamy resolution. It involves a lot of alcohol, and possibly explosions. I've been doing a lot of resoluting lately actually. Generally, it is preceded by soluting, and desoluting.
It begins with creating a solution of, basically, water and sugar. Sometimes we use molasses, sometimes we use malted barley. You'd think we'd use the sugary substance we have literally tons of laying about -- honey -- but honey is naturally antibacterial and we need bacteria (yeast) to live in the solution. Over the next few weeks to as short as a few days, yeast will thrive in the solution and convert the sugar into EtOH, ethanol, the alcohol we know and love.
Once this process has completed, it is time to de-solute it (ie divide the solution into component parts). We do this by heating it to a temperature between the boiling point of the two major components, alcohol and water. Alcohol evaporates above 78.3 celsius, and water, obviously, evaporates at 100. This is distilling.
Over the course of a few hours, if the still does not explode and kill us all, it will divide the solution into two new solutions -- one of between 60-80% alcohol (and water and some other materials from the original solution), and in the bottom of the still a slag of everything that didnt evaporate.
There is a pervasive urban legend that amateur distillation can yield a product that will make you blind. This is totally incorrect. Distilling does not make anything that wasn't in the original substance. What caused blindness is back in the days of prohibition people would load up their moonshine with methanol and other dubious substances in order to artificially up the alcohol content or volume.
Then it is time to re-solute. Since an 80% alcohol solution is kind of gnarly, one typically waters it down 50-50 with water (preferably distilled, so it is pure water). One then filters it through activated charcoal to get out anything else less desirable that made it through the distillage.
Then, my latest thing is to mix honey into the solution. Honey is sweet and delicious, flavoursome, and kind of has a little bit of a bite itself really (and I have a metric shit-ton of it). The flavour (and colour!) in most commercially available distilled beverages comes from months to years of barrel aging. Most home distillers don't have time for this but you can buy "rum essence" (or brandy, or tequila or...) and mix it in and have something that tastes exactly like the commercially available product (this seems kind of like cheating to me, however).
This was all going to be a silly lead in to me saying I was going to take my bye this week, but hey I think it turned into an entry itself. (=
Legal Note: It is unlawful to distill in California without a license from the Alcoholic Beverage Control agency. However, you don't necessarily know whether or not I have one and I should be assumed to be in compliance with the law until proven otherwise right? (=