Making a DIY infused whiskey bourbon is a great way to get creative with your drinks. People have been using whiskey in their favorite cocktails for decades. But it would be fun to explore flavors a bit more!
All you need to do is get your favorite whiskey as a base, then add your infusion ingredients to let the flavors blend. With time, you will get a richer and more complex liquor each day that passes.
We’ll share some tips and other useful information so you’ll know everything you need to do to make the best DIY infused whiskey bourbon!
What is a Whiskey Bourbon Infusion?
It is soaking other ingredients in the alcohol so their flavors meld, thereby making it more complex. There are many options when it comes to bourbon infusions.
For instance, bourbon paired with cinnamon, vanilla bean, nutmeg, apples, or peaches. The possibilities indeed seem endless here. The choice does come down to personal preference at this point.
What You'll Need
Large Glass Bottles or Masons Jars
Large glass bottles or mason jars are where you'll be putting and storing all of your mixtures. Make sure bottles or jars have good caps tightly sealed to keep your whiskey infusion safe from dirt or bacteria. You also need to ensure it is durable with an opening large enough to fit your ingredients.
This is the list of edible ingredients you'll need for your infusion. Remember to make a list of all the items you'll need. It's a bummer to start your experiment just to discover you forgot to include cinnamon sticks in your specialty!
Bourbon of Choice
A great final product depends on the perfect liquor. You can't just use old stuff as the infusion result may become poor.
A good brand is smooth with no harsh taste at all. This way, your flavors stand out beautifully in their purest form. However, if you're trying new things with your ingredients, test your recipe first with a not-so-expensive bottle.
After the process, infusion used these bottles. When the flavor of your concoction has reached its peak, transfer it to a new vessel without the ingredients, as they will be sifted. You can also use other glass containers like smaller mason jars.
Funnel is useful for transferring liquids from one infusing vessel to another. You will minimize spills and any mess by using a funnel.
Mesh Strainer or Coffee Filter
Another helpful tool you must have is a mesh strainer, which you might also know as a sieve or sift. Using a coffee filter to catch fine debris such as tiny ingredients from the bourbon is better. You need to ensure the bourbon infusion is clean, clear, and smooth.
Labeling your infusions may need tags when you want. You may write the name of your unique concoction, what ingredients the drink is composed of, or any details you might want to include.
Commonly Used Ingredients for Infused Whiskey Bourbon
If you are looking for something to add a bit extra special, try infusing your favorite bourbon with fresh fruits like apples, oranges, lemon peel, berries, and high-sugar fruit like peaches, plums, and more.
One popular variation is the cherry-infused bourbon. The sweetness of this fruit complements the spiciness of the liquor beautifully, and it is one of the easiest recipes to make. Blackberries are also an option for those who don't want their drink too sweet!
You'll be surprised at how many different kinds exist, and each will give it a new personality! Some people like to add fresh citrus fruits such as blood oranges or lemons.
Fruit-infused bourbon makes a relatively easy recipe, and it intensifies the subtle notes of whiskey. Feel free to experiment with fruits that can enhance this alcohol.
Infused bourbon with nuts can be a fun and exciting way to add some extra flavor. Pecans are a popular choice to infuse bourbon with, and adding it with vanilla, nutmeg, cinnamon, and orange zest is perfect for the fall season. You can also add walnuts, hazelnuts, or pistachios.
If you're planning to try this ingredient, take note the skins on the nuts can impart astringency of their own accord — but don't worry! This effect can usually be avoided by blanching them beforehand. You can also toast the nuts until they are golden brown.
Aromatic spices add to the taste and aroma of your favorite drinks. Vanilla is perhaps the most famous spice to use since it complements other ingredients like fruits very well.
Spices are easy enough for beginners. Most recipes call for whole or coarse spices such as cinnamon sticks, allspice berries, ginger, and bay leaves rather than ground spices because, in alcohol, they are cloudless, not overseasoned.
Coffee beans or cacao nibs should be lightly crushed but not ground when infused. Cocoa nibs are what you need. Don't even think about using cocoa powder if you want to impart a chocolate flavor to your bourbon. If you use tea, like Chai, you can add it loose or as a teabag.
The most important thing to remember when infusing your bourbon with fresh herbs is to rinse them and pat them dry. Fresh herbs like rosemary and tarragon may be slightly bruised before adding them to the alcohol.
Meanwhile, bourbon ideally uses herbs with delicate leaves like mint or basil in small amounts or as long sprigs. Because these herbs' strong flavor will overpower the drink if added more liberally.
Due to weak structural integrity, you may freeze-dry them first so they can last longer in the alcohol. Otherwise, you can add the herbs in the mason jars, but constantly check the infused whiskey to make sure the flavors play harmoniously.
Adding fat to the infusion of whiskey makes it surprisingly taste better. For instance, you can add cheese, butter, fat from cooked bacon, smoked ham, or other meats. This method is called fat-washing and is said to give the whiskey a rich taste and smoother mouthfeel.
After the infusion period, remove the fat from your infusion by putting it in the fridge so you can quickly skim the fat the following day.
Infusions often used flowers to flavor and color drinks. The delicate flavor of edible flowers can be a highlight for your favorite beverage. You don't want to overdo it, though, as some could turn out tasting like soap if you add too much! You should try hibiscus, lavender, or honeysuckle.
Food-infused bourbon is a popular trend, but the process of making it can be complicated. Infusing bourbon with sweet foods such as cookies or candies will need more filtering and straining because they have high levels of sugar or fat, which can cause transparency issues when combined with alcohol.
1. Ensure the materials are clean
- Get all the materials you need for the infusion, such as the funnel, the fine mesh strainer, the mason jars, etc.
- Wash all of them thoroughly to ensure the cleanliness and safety of your infusion.
- Air-dry the washed materials or use a cloth to pat until dry.
2. Prepare the infusion ingredients
- Take all of the ingredients you need for your whiskey infusion.
- Ensure you wash them clean enough, as you wouldn't want an unclean ingredient soaking in your bourbon.
- Cut and peel the ingredients.
- Remove the stems first if you will use berries.
3. Mixing the bourbon with infusions
- Place all of your ingredients at the bottom of the large mason jar or any glass bottle.
- Pour the bourbon of your choice into the airtight container.
- Seal the mason jar or glass bottle with a lid tightly.
- Please give it a bit of a shake.
- Take your infusion and store it in a cool and dark place, away from direct sunlight.
- Let it sit through your desired duration.
- Shake daily until the last day of infusing.
5. Taste and record
- After the infusion reaches the end of the duration, take a taste test and record the result.
- Assess the flavor and decide if it's already perfect or needs more time infusing or more ingredients.
- Record your observations in a small notebook to serve as a guide in the future.
6. Bottling and labeling
- Now that you're satisfied with the infusion flavor, you can start bottling.
- Take your mesh strainer, funnel, flip-top bottles, and tags.
- Use the strainer to strain unwanted pieces into the funnel and eventually into the bottles.
- Use the tags to label the infusions and stick the tag on your bottle.
Tips When Making Infused Bourbon
Research and Experiment First
There's nothing worse than wasting good whiskey. Before you start infusing, know the basics about infusions and what is needed to improve, and how to do it.
Also, do your research about ingredients. Discover what it does to your bourbon and what you think goes best with your selected bourbon.
Don't sweat the whole thing, don't be scared to experiment. If you mess up, you can still save your infusion by adding modifiers.
Use unflavored whiskey or high-proof whiskey.
The perfect infusion starts with the right spirit. You want to make sure that you are choosing a good quality bourbon for better results. It would be best to use a bourbon with high proof as it pulls more flavors out.
For infused whiskey, its ABV may become lower. You wouldn't be able to use your infusion for a cocktail recipe in the future as it wouldn't create balance. The minimum ABV for your bourbon should be 45%.
Ensure infusion ingredients are fresh and ripe
The ideal time to infuse is when fruits are perfectly ripe because alcohol does a better job capturing not only their sweetness but also any other flavors they may have when they're ripe.
You can use this technique if you want your infusion with the most vibrant taste possible. Just make sure that what goes in is fresh and clean.
Follow the proper procedure for each ingredient
Make sure you prepare your ingredients properly. It's essential to break them up without crushing or mashing too much to get the most flavor out of your fruits. An excellent way to prepare cherries and blueberries is by muddling them.
For soft berries, breaking their skin is enough. For spices and hard nuts, you should add the berries whole or at least crack them slightly.
Check your whiskey
You will notice that the whiskey tastes better when you shake or stir it every day. After a day, have a taste test to see if you still look for more flavor. This method is ideal if you're infusing new flavor combinations. The longer you let the whiskey sit, the more intense the flavor becomes.
If a drinker is unsure how they like their spirit after 24 hours of being bottled, infuse for another day and see what happens! Most people find that three days or so are needed to get just right.
Wait for a few weeks before bottling.
Allow your infusion to sit and combine with the ingredients for at least a week before you transfer it to another bottle to ensure all flavors are there. More weeks mean more time for the infusion to develop. Keep checking until you reach the desired taste.
Try Flavor Pairings
The point of DIY-infused whiskey bourbon is that it's up to you to make whatever you want. You can use two infusions or more and create variations of concoctions. You can make an apple pie flavor or apple pie moonshine for the holiday season, vanilla chai, orange-infused rye, and other different flavors.
Use other whiskeys
Aside from bourbon, you can infuse many types of whiskey like Tennessee whiskey, rye whiskey, Japanese whisky, scotch, and more with great combinations of ingredients. There are also whiskeys inspired by celebrities!
Kinds of Bourbon
You can use either of these bourbons as the base of your infusion:
- Standard - To be considered a standard bourbon, the whiskey must exceed 80% ABV to preserve the flavor and age in new charred oak barrels for no more than 62.5%. However, there is no set number of aged years on these requirements—it's up to personal preference.
- Kentucky - Kentucky whiskeys have a few rules to meet to receive the proper designation. The distillery must be located within Kentucky state boundaries. Furthermore, the grain used in production can come from elsewhere as long as they follow basic American regulations for whiskey and bourbon. Otherwise, they would risk losing the name "Kentucky" on its label.
- Straight - Straight bourbon is required to age in charred oak containers for a minimum of two years. It may only be mixed with other straight bourbons if they were both made in the same state. Besides, colorings or flavorings do not match this bourbon, unlike different types of bourbon whiskies.
- Single Barrel - It's simply a whiskey that has been bottled from only one barrel instead of blended with other whiskeys. This grain provides an impression of uniqueness and individuality rather than consistency in flavor year after year, like most bourbons are known for producing.
- Small Batch - The lack of regulations that define what constitutes small-batch whiskey means there are multiple criteria for the term. For example, it may pertain to a mash bill prepared in smaller amounts or limited series of barrels alone from their primary production. Otherwise, it may be a result of a fixed pot still running.
- Blended - There must be at least 20% straight whisky to produce a blended whiskey. However, in the case of bourbon, this number is much higher - 51%.
DIYs are about taking up a great idea and turning it into something extraordinary, like infused bourbon whiskey. It requires dedication and patience, and it's worth it! It's also perfect for celebrating with friends or family during get-togethers.
What is your idea for a fantastic bourbon-infused recipe? Let us know in the comments below.