Originally By Tony Ackland
BourbonBill recommends the following for a Bourbon made from essences ...
don't forget most of that classic bourbon taste is vanillin, so you may need to add some quercus alba [american white oak], liquid oak or some toasted quercus alba chips to truly get that wood/vanillin effect
Mecakyrios writes ...
Sometimes I like to throw in a handful of oak chips in about 2 weeks before I distill. I then transfer the wash and the chips into the still and go to town. I have found that the oak absorbs (or at least makes me believe) some of the fusels that we try to cut. The chips also quickens the distillation times. The oak also adds some interesting flavor when using it this way.
Smudge describes his technique ...
I recently went right back to my roots and purchased a Spirits Unlimited 5 litre Simple Still. This time it's not for distilling washes, but for making flavourings.
The process is fairly simple – get whatever you want as flavouring, soak it in alcohol, and distil it.
For the sake of consistency, I use 500mls of base material (corn, rye, barley etc) and 2.5 litres of 40% alcohol. It sits for a week, and then I add water to make 4.5 litres and distil it.
OK, for the purists out there, I admit it's not the real thing, but its getting close. And it's better than anything I have ever tasted that wasn't from a bottle shop.
I did some research on bourbon to work out where its characteristic flavours come from:
It is primarily made from corn, but rye is used to give it body. Much of the flavour, however, is obtained from the barrel. Unlike whisky, bourbon is aged in virgin oak. Bourbon barrels are charred with an intense flame, which caramelises the sap producing the characteristic vanilla/caramel flavour.
I set about combining corn, rye, oak, vanilla, caramel and smoke. Here's what I came up with:
I distilled separate batches of corn and rye as detailed above and watered each back to 40%.
I have some 60% alcohol that has been in a 15litre barrel with 2kg of toasted oak staves. It is black as night and has the warm smell of dark rum. I distilled some of it (1.6litres at 60% watered back to 4.5litres volume) to produce a clear liquid with an oak flavour.
I distilled 50ml of liquid smoke (purchased from the supermarket) in the same alcohol/water proportion as above.
I added 50ml of concentrated vanilla extract (the expensive stuff) with 40% alcohol to make a total volume of 500mls.
I caramelised 1 cup of sugar (on the stove) to a rich red/brown colour and diluted it back with 60% alcohol to a volume of 500mls.
I diluted a bottle of Spirits Unlimited Bourbon to 500mls with 40% alcohol. Don't substitute the Premium Bourbon, as it doesn't have the same perfume taste.
I combined the ingredients in the following ratio:
The result is quite pale, but it lets you barrel age it without it getting to dark. It can also be darkened with some concentrated (un- distilled) oaked alcohol.
It involves some effort but the cost of the flavouring is low at about AUD$1 per litre of spirits.