Chapter 39 – The Taste of Alcohol
With spring waiting around the corner, days of heavily piling up snow continued in Siena.
Here it was a common thing.
Once the snow ceased to fall and the morning sun rose from the eastern direction, the season would change from winter to spring.
Surrounded by the silence, in which even the wind didn’t seem to be blowing, the villagers passed their days inside their houses, keeping a fire while waiting for spring to arrive.
Right now it was noon, and the inside of Eiji’s house was warm.
The house was filled with the heat coming from both people and livestock. In addition, there was a stove radiating with heat.
As soon as Eiji picked two pieces of firewood, he threw them inside the flames.
Pachi pachi – sounds from the tree barks generated.
Even the newly added firewood that didn’t ignite with the fire began to gradually burn red as a wind was delivered.
– Huh, is that for me?
– It’s hot, so please be careful.
– Thank you.
Recently, they both had become able to understand each other’s intentions somehow to the extent of feeling each other’s respiration, or so one could say.
They could sense what each of them wanted even if it was done in a casual manner, making their mutual understanding even deeper than before.
That fact made Eiji feel pleasant.
What she handed to him was a steaming tea made from a linden tree’s leaves.
Once he took the cup, he took down the iron implement which was hung over the fire.
The tool consisted of two iron kettles that were connected with a narrow pipe.
In order to precisely eliminate their connection gaps, the mouth parts of the kettles were blocked with clay.
– Again, you’ve invented something new, haven’t you? Truly, Eiji-san can make almost everything.
– I wouldn’t exaggerate that, still…
– So today, what are you going to make?
– I’m condensing sake.
– Yeah. We only have wines and ales here, right?
Inside the village, fermented ales and fruit wines, such as grape wines and cider, were generally drank.
Naturally, their alcohol level wasn’t that high.
Well, for someone like me, who is bad at drinking, this much should be fine – Eiji thought.
For that reason, he couldn’t care less about beverages being not strong enough.
However, judging from Mike and Philip, who were strong with alcohol, they would have their stomach full with fluid rather than getting drunk.
– There’s also a beverage made from fermented goat’s milk.
– Seems like you have various alcohols.
– Since it’s not very strong, I wonder if Eiji-san will be fine with that. Won’t you try it out?
– I’ll take your offer once.
– Then, this time, I’ll ask grandmother for a favor.
– Please do so.
Just what kind of taste will it have? – Eiji couldn’t imagine that.
Will it have a taste similar to that of a cow’s milk? Or perhaps that of yogurt?
Freshly squeezed milk is smooth and stringent in taste, which gives it a deliciousness incomparable with those found in commercially sold products.
Nevertheless, because the milk doesn’t stay good for a long time, it would be usually processed into yogurt and cheese.
For that reason, there was a chance that the beverage will have a nice taste.
On the other hand, it could also smell like a goat.
Pondering what the taste would likely be, Tanya pointed at the still while asking.
– Then, after all, what is this used for?
– It’s a still.
– A s-ti-ll?
– You know that wine consist of alcohol and water mixed together, don’t you?
– With that being the case, once you put the wine over a fire, the alcohol will evaporate the quickest.
– Evaporate, what’s that?
– When you continuously boil water, won’t it disappear?
– Ah, I understand! You mean when the water becomes steam, it vanishes, right? The reason why your hands become moistened when put them into the steam is because the water’s rising up, right?
– You figured it out pretty well.
– Ufufu… it’s not a big deal.
Being able to answer the question, Tanya smiled pleasantly, which was kind of cute.
Eiji put his tea aside and gently brushed her head, making her enjoy that moment as she looked fondly at him.
– Using that method, we will be able to condense lots of alcohol.
– Still, once it evaporates, won’t it disappear?
– You see, on cold winter days like today, the water droplets will usually stick to the ceiling.
– Erm… what do you mean?
– If you cool down the vaporized alcohol, it will turn back to a liquid. The cooled and liquefied alcohol inside the tube will pass through it and enter the opposite side of the iron kettle. With that, you can produce even stronger alcohol than just now.
– *Being in awe* Is that so? Then the condensed alcohol here is…
Tanya stared fixedly at the still.
It was a prototype model, so making it in large quantities was out of question, still, if it was for testing purposes which involved the application of its fundamental truth, then it would be more than enough.
If possible, Eiji wanted to make it using glass, as it would allow him to have a better view of the contents, however, there were no glass articles in this village.
Because the required melting temperature is higher than that of iron, unless Eiji makes a furnace with the right heat-resistant brick, no other furnace will resist the temperature.
Even casting bronze items requires such a temperature unlike iron ones, and therefore, are produced in scarce amount by city rulers, which makes them considered as precious to the extent of not wanting to sell.
– Won’t you try the drink?
– But, isn’t it still condensed?
– With just a single distillation there should still be enough water mixed inside, so it shouldn’t be condensed that much.
– W-well, if it’s just a little.
Eiji shifted the content from the still to an empty cup.
Despite putting it on the fire, the apple’s fragrance wouldn’t disappear.
No, rather than that, its mellow and bittersweet fragrance seemed to have become even more remarkable.
The hue had as well turned into a color similar to amber even though it was dim yellow a moment ago.
Tanya, who first feasted her eyes with the color, breathed in the alcohol’s fragrance inside her chest.
– This one was distilled from cider. If I were to classify this alcohol, I would say it’s a brandy type, although I’m not that knowledgeable…
– Ara… it’s delicious. Indeed, the taste of the alcohol became condensed.
– If you want it to be even more delicious, you can ferment it inside a barrel.
– Eiji-san, despite you not being good at drinking, you’re well-acquainted with beverages, ain’t you?
– Just because I get easily a drunk, it’s not like I dislike drinking completely. Rather, there’s something which makes me yearn for alcohol. 
Nodding with her head, Tanya tilted the cup.
Once she savored the taste inside her mouth, she gulped down the liquid.
– I’m glad you liked it. I wonder if the taste would become complete as soon it matures, you see.
Since his childhood, Eiji had been attracted by the appearance of a stylishly drinking actor whenever there was a scene from drama or movie involving bars.
Apart from that, he enjoyed staring at the shelves filled with alcohol bottles in bars.
The moment Eiji enrolled into the university and became an adult, his passion for beverages settled down a bit after witnessing other people going through painful experiences because of alcohol.
After all, there are not many who can hold one’s liquor…..like in the movies and dramas.
Despite that, there were times when Eiji would think bitterly about him not being able to hold his liquor well.
– If you are not moderate with drinking, you’re going to get drunk. Tanya-san too, isn’t strong with alcohol.
– That’s fine～
– Ah, you’ve already exceeded your drinking limit?!
Tanya’s cup became almost empty.
Her reaction could be said to be as quick as a blink of an eye.
Tanya-san’s voice turned high-pitch as her face flushed red.
Her breathing was out of rhythm, and her eyes became blurry, at the same time losing their strength while wandering.
-….It’s getting hot inside.
– You’re completely drunk, aren’t you? Shouldn’t you blame yourself?
– Listen, Eiji-san. I don’t have any strength, so please help me remove my clothes.
– At least, please listen to what people want to say, won’t you?
Despite Eiji complaining, his hands moved with excitement.
It seemed that on this island there were no such things as buttons.
During winter, most of people would restrain their rough clothes using belts in various places.
As soon as he loosened the belt between Tanya’s chest and her waist, her lively appearance vanished in an instant and turned into a straightforward one.
– Yes, Tanya-san, please do hooray.
She really just wants to be spoiled – Eiji thought.
Having her raise both her hands, he lifted up her skirt’s hem and removed her clothes.
As Eiji stared at her, she responded back to him with an ‘ehehe’ laugh.
It seemed that whenever Tanya got drunk, she would laugh frequently with an attitude similar to that of a child.
Eiji wanted to complain, nevertheless, he couldn’t possibly hate that image.
As soon he undressed Tanya, her black underwear became exposed.
They were a pair of bra and shorts which he made after taking numerous measurements by himself.
Unlike her simplistic clothes, both of them were arranged with lace, giving them a glamorous design.
Once she released her ‘hooray’ posture, her hands landed on the bed as she leant forward.
Her blurry eyes became upturned as if aiming for something.
Tanya’s originally voluptuous chest was pressed forward, creating a visible cleavage.
Together with her rough breathing, her chest moved up and down.
Tanya’s slightly sweating and flushing cheeks looked even more charming than usual.
Eiji, who would usually try to deal with things sincerely, made a sound of gulping down for the first time.
There was a clear intention in him trying to avert his eyes.
– You have a lewd expression.
– Sorry for that.
– It’s wrong if you look at other people with those eyes, got it?
Even if someone was to make advances on him, Eiji wouldn’t become loose.
Looking at her sobering face, Eiji made a firm plea inside his heart.
– Afuu… my head is spinning. It feels good….
– Hey, you better lie down.
– Are you going to sleep together with me?
– I, it will be lonesome to sleep alone.
Tanya’s eyes were upturned as it became tear-choked.
Their lips touched each other two, three times, so as to make sure they overlapped. After that, their tongues entwined.
The soft sensation of lips was felt together with their gums, and their upper jaws shivered giving them a pleasant feeling.
They continued to the extent of feeling out of breath.
Her kiss had a hint of apple to it.
Exchanging their lips, Eiji felt high throbbing inside his chest.
Was it because he felt drunk with just the kiss?
Being seduced openly like this, Eiji couldn’t say ‘no’.
It seemed as though their wish of having a child will come really quick.
They were locked inside a small house, which couldn’t be said to be enjoyable.
Before the night arrived, the two of them placed each other’s skin together.
Watching Tanya, who fell asleep while naked, Eiji made a wry smile.
Wouldn’t it be normal for the man to wake up later? – He wondered.
Usually it would, however, their roles seemed to have reversed after alcohol.
Rising up from the bed, Eiji soaked a cloth towel with the temperature-adjusted water from the stove.
Once he wiped his own and Tanya’s body, he quickly wore his clothes.
Despite kindling a fire, the airtightness of their home wasn’t high compared to the ones found in modern buildings.
As soon the wind blew through the gaps, their naked bodies would turn chilly.
After Eiji stoked the fire in the stove once again, he put some ciders in the still and began to distill.
The concentration level will increase little by little each time you repeat the distillation of the already distilled liquid.
The fragrance of cider rose in the air gradually, leaving the characteristic pungent and stimulating smell of the alcohol behind.
If a liquid is made from an already liquefied alcohol, then one can make it at most 5%. Nevertheless, if you preserve and seal it completely inside a jar, you can further raise the alcohol level.
It wasn’t something needed yet, still, it might be necessary sometime in the future.
—– A disinfectant alcohol.
Eiji recalled the amiable siberian husky.
It seemed that it was named using the word ‘Gerodi’, meaning ‘a hero’.
Indeed, that dog is this village savior.
Bravely facing his enemy, the dog rescued its owner.
However, Gero died.
Not even the dedicated nursing from Mike and Jane could be of any help.
Most likely, the increasing number of germs caused him to have a high fever, eventually, leading to the dog passing away.
Perhaps, his method of thinking wasn’t likable.
Still, it was thanks to the incident that time that Eiji was able to come up with the still and the alcohol.
When you fail, you ought to capitalize the failure into your experience.
It was something Eiji learned through his work as a creator.
…..But, if only had he figured out the disinfectant property of the alcohol that time, would he have been able to save Gero? Eiji couldn’t help but think that way.
Translator notes and reference:
: The distilled alcohol mentioned in this text is made from cider. Obviously, as you know Sake is made from fermented rice and not from apples. The term Sake is quite unique, as it can generally be used to describe alcoholic beverages and not just the Sake which we know. I thought that replacing the word with ‘alcohol’ would sound strange, since it’s not like the villagers doesn’t know of the alcohol.
: They are precious, but certainly it doesn’t mean they can’t be sold. Perhaps, each household would afford 1 tool or so, is my guess.
: Of course his yearning for alcohol doesn’t come from his addiction.