Tuesday, January 10, 2012

(Infused) Bourbon!

I like to look at myself as a sort of Renaissance man when it comes to alcohol. This isn't to say that I would be able to make fantastic alcohol (although I do enjoy my homebrew), but rather that I feel like I know a good amount about a lot of different alcoholic beverages. I know my beer well and I can certainly make my way through a nice wine tasting, but liquor was a different hurdle. There is so many different kinds, all so very different. It can really be overwhelming. Today, I'm going to focus on bourbon. More specifically, Old Grand Dad Whiskey that I have infused.

Above you see my first attempt to infuse bourbon with bacon. Neither the bacon nor the bourbon look even remotely appealing at this point (don't worry, after another couple filterings, the bourbon cleared right up). 

Bourbon porkchops, bourbon ham glaze, bacon bourbon brownies. There is a reason why these go so well together. Bourbon is naturally a little bit sweet, a result of the required 51% corn mash used to make it. This balances well with the natural saltiness of pork products. In fact, the final bacon-infused bourbon that I made came out very well. The smokiness of the bacon added a really nice flavor and made the finish much smoother. Most of the burn disappeared. I also infused several other flavors for fun: Cinnamon, Coffee, Apple-Cinnamon Vanilla, Pumpkin Spice, Maple, Maple-Bacon, and Peanut Butter.

All the same bourbon, just different infusions

You can infuse virtually any liquor you want, but it's best to not infuse one that is overly flavorful. Also, if you try to infuse a single malt, you will probably get punched in the mouth. If you are curious how to infuse liquor, its actually really easy. I chose to use 8 oz. mason jars because they are cheap, easy to clean, and allowed me to do small enough batches. Basically all you need to do is:

1. Choose the infusion flavor.
2. Estimate how much of the flavor to put into the jar.
3. Fill remainder of jar with liquor.
4. Taste every so often until the flavor is satisfactory. (Can be anywhere from a few hours to a couple weeks)

For example, here is the recipe I created for the bacon bourbon.
Fry up 5 strips of bacon. Eat 4 strips of bacon. Pour all of the bacon grease and the remaining strip into the mason jar. Fill jar with bourbon. Shake well Place the bacon-bourbon jar in the freezer. After a few hours, most of the bacon fat will solidify, allowing you to pour the bourbon through. It will still be cloudy. Filter additionally using either a coffee filter or paper towels. The longer you let the jar sit, the stronger the bacon flavor will be. Also, the more time in the freezer, the more fat will solidify.  

I have a couple strange ideas for my next attempts (peated malt?, jalepeno?). If anybody has a cool ideas, let me know. Also, if anyone wants the recipes I used for any of the above-stated infused bourbons, I will gladly give them. 

Side Note: My brother told me about a fun game that he observed, the centerpiece of which is a bottle of Old Grand Dad Whiskey. The game is played as follows:
If you are holding the bottle, tell a funny story about your Grand Dad. Take a swig. Pass the bottle. 

I could probably tell a funny story about my Grandpop, my brother, and some advice on how to get women, but I'll let that be for now. 

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