Turning Everclear into Whiskey

Inspired by this experiment from Dramming.com (and the follow-up).

They used vodka. Theoretically, vodka is just ethanol and water, but I want to make something more “pure,” so I will be using Everclear 190, diluted down to roughly 100 proof with distilled water.

I will use the same Jack Daniel’s wood chips. I will toast some of the wood chips, as per the suggestion in their conclusion. I will make a batch with toasted chips and one with untoasted chips.

I will use sterilized glass mason jars with screw-on tops, and I will “air them out” once a week or so.

I plan on “aging” them about 6 months, checking on them once a month. I might change out the chips after three months.

If the result is promising after less than 6 months, I may “save” half the jar and keep going with the other half, just for experimentation’s sake.

What’s the point, when I could just buy a bottle of whiskey, you ask? Science!

…and boredom. Mostly boredom.
Updates to come! Questions, comments, and suggestions welcomed!

Subscribing to this thread so I can keep up with the periodic updates. Sounds like a fun experiment. You might want to do a parallel batch starting with white lightning.

You’ll likely need some caramel for colouring and some sweetness.

I like the idea, but why would you want to dilute the liquor before aging? Whiskey is usually around 120+ proof when it’s aged, and I imagine the higher proof will dissolve things faster.

Since he’s doing everything in mason jars there wont be any evaporation to reduce the proof.

I dunno. You’re right, cask strength is usually 120-130 proof, so I will dilute down to that level.

Thanks for the input!

Oh, you could try and buy some heather from a local garden centre then dry and smoke it with your wood chips. It might add a slightly herbal flavour to the final product. I wouldn’t think you’d want (or need) much.

For this initial experiment I’m going to try and keep it basic. If the results are decent, I’ll monkey around with the recipe in future batches.

You need one of these assuming you have a vacuum sealer to work it.

If you can vacuum seal the jar it will massively accelerate the process, I am talking a week instead of 6 months. (might be 2 weeks, I never tried to make whiskey in a mason jar before)

I think using wood chips soaked in whiskey defeats the purpose. Use normal oak chips (perhaps toasted) or even a mini unused oak barrel.

Hmm; that’s a very good point. Jack Daniel’s chips are chopped up whiskey barrels, so they’re already “used.” I’ll get some fresh oak chips.

Most whiskey barrels are charred before use, so adding fresh oak chips will result in a much different flavor.

I’d use the JD chips. Or buy a used bourbon barrel and a lot of Everclear.

Not “fresh” as in “green,” but fresh as in “unused” I meant. I will blast the wood on the grill until they get some decent color.

Homebrewing shops and websites sell “toasted” chips/cubes at varying levels of toast - usually light/medium/dark.

I bought one of those age your own whiskey kits a couple years ago. White dog tastes like ass, but a few months in a mini-barrel and it becomes very delicious. Corn whiskey tastes a bit different than neutral vodka, so that obviously contributes to the final flavor, but it’d be interesting to see what a barrel-aged neutral spirit tastes like.

On a side note, before putting the whiskey in the barrel, you’re supposed to soak the barrel with water for a couple days (probably to reduce the amount of angel’s share). I tried the barrel-aged water, and it wasn’t that bad. Sort of tasted like bourbon with the alcohol removed.

Question from the non-drinking crowd (all several of us). Is it the flavor that makes it whiskey, or the process? In other words, if he uses fresh oak chips, could he create a completely different drink?

Generally, it’s the process. For the most part, whiskey is made from grains (malt), and then aged for awhile in wood barrels.

However, most domestic whiskey made in India is actually more like rum, i.e. made from molasses, sugarcane, etc. But it’s called whiskey there and meant to taste like western whiskey, so maybe it is indeed the flavor that makes it whiskey.

It’s a good philosophical question. Of note, such rum-like whiskey from India usually can’t be sold as whiskey in Europe/USA since it doesn’t qualify as their definitions of whiskey.

In The Great Escape Paul Brickhill wrote that some Polish camp inmate, who had been a chemist, had a procedure by which he turned the distilled “raisin hooch”* into an imitation whiskey, but he didn’t know the details. All he knew was that the guy added some powder and a viscous liquid and the result was “a passable imitation of whiskey, if you couldn’t remember what whiskey tasted like.”

*the stuff that they showed Steve McQueen and company distilling out of potatoes in the movie. Brickhill never mentions any potato-based liquor – I suspect that , given the poor rations, they’d rather eat the potatoes. The inmates of Stalag Luft Drei made their illicit liquor from Red Cross-parcel raisins, and “the fastidious double-distilled it” into spirits.

Well it’s been a day. How’s it taste so far? <not impatient> :slight_smile:
(Interested in how this goes, even though I don’t drink whiskey.)

I ordered some dark toasted oak chips from Amazon. I’ll get them Monday or Tuesday. I’ve got the mason jars and Everclear already.