PDA

View Full Version : The Fake Whiskey Challenge



cowdery
08-15-2008, 20:59
Here is something I have been meaning to try and I'll make it an invitation to the group to try it along with me. I want to develop a credible faux bourbon from ingredients that are easily obtained, and by that I mean obtained in any supermarket, not at a home brew store. I'm thinking of things such as simple syrup, vanilla, caramel, liquid smoke and I don't know what else. You start from a base of vodka. Whatever you create, you have to be able to replicate it. There has to be a recipe anyone can make. Then we share them, make them, try them, and use that knowledge to improve our own.

It will be like a Wikipedia of fake bourbon recipes.

The point? To punk Jim Murray, of course.

This is no stupider than a lot of my other ideas.

TBoner
08-15-2008, 21:43
No homebrew store? So oak cubes are out, huh? Hmmm...I like this idea. Count me in.

Regards,

cowdery
08-16-2008, 01:25
No actual wood, not actual whiskey, no pre-made "whiskey essense." We're looking for 100% artificial ingredients.

Sijan
08-16-2008, 08:31
Well, this isn't available at a grocery store, but it's similar in concept to liquid smoke, and I would think it would be useful in this sort of project: http://www.stompthemgrapes.com/Oak_Options_and_Supplies-Sinatin_17_Liquid_Oak_Extract.html

Perhaps there's an easy way to get tannins from white grape skins w/o getting too much color or grape/wine taste?

Gillman
08-16-2008, 09:10
This has been done before (in the 1800's), see the first few recipes at http://www.pre-pro.com/recipe.htm

If you scroll down, recipes are given for rye oil and bourbon oil (they're based on fusel oils). These would not meet the challenge test which stipulates no essences, but I mention them for their historical interest.

The recipe which uses rum, prune juice, the St. John's stuff (which is carob) sounds promising.

Of course this is just to add to the discussion, and I too am interested in what people might come up with. Tip: consider using maple syrup, which has a flavor akin to some of the elements of a good bourbon - and it comes from a tree. In fact Grade No. 5, made with maple syrup as the syrup element, might come pretty close to some bourbons.

Gary

Gillman
08-16-2008, 09:22
Corn syrup however might be better, since it would impart some of the corn taste typical of most bourbons. Or maybe use both that and maple syrup for the sweetening element.

Gary

TBoner
08-16-2008, 13:30
I've been thinking about this all day.

Yes, Gary, I think corn and maple syrup in concert for the sweetening would be great. Other sugar syrups such as molasses, sorghum, and demerara syrup could serve a purpose as well, since the sweetness of bourbon is so complex and can incorporate all of these elements. I think date sugar isn't a bad idea, either, but we're talking minute quantities of all of the above.

Dried fruit seems like a good way to add cherry, raisin, plum, and apricot flavors without adding juice or nectar, and the infusion of these flavors would probably be more subtle than that from whole fruit or juice. I also seem to recall a post by Chuck about picking up tamarind in Beam black: tamarind paste is very complex in flavor and might help meld the fruit and sugar notes.

I think the barrel wood flavor remains the toughest part. Putting some burnt sugar in would help give the impression of char, and vanilla helps give the impression of oak, of course, but I'm not sure if liquid smoke provides the right taste: it smells like the wood used to make it, so I guess if you bought some not-too-flavorful chips for smoking, say applewood, and made your own liquid smoke, you'd be getting closer, but it might be too smoky.

Dan, the oak essence and pure grape tannin - no grape flavor, just tannin - are available at homebrew stores, but these would probably both be out too since they're not artificial or grocery store ingredients.

One final thought: corn oil might help with mouthfeel and flavor, in tiny quantities, if we had a way to keep it in suspension with the liquid.

I hope to have some time to play with this in the next couple of weeks. We've got a baby due in September, so it'll be some time after that before I can try anything else.

Edit: Ooh, brainstorm, what about marshmallows charred over a flame? You'd get a whiff of smoke, sweetness, and char all in one, and you could let those infuse in the mixture...

Also, I think corn roasted in its husk might be an interesting addition, the husk adding the sometimes grassy element of especially young whiskey and the corn providing a grainy corn counterpart to the corn syrup character. Alternatively, a handful of crushed Post Toasties corn flakes might do the job just as well.
Regards,

TNbourbon
08-16-2008, 15:27
Way to go, Chuck. Though y'all may never know what I come up with, you may have prompted my first-ever purchase of vodka:frown: (though it may come in the form of 190-proof Everclear, or the like). Oh, wait -- I may still have some GNS that Gary left with me after Doug's first 'do' in January. Yea, I won't have to buy any!:bis:

Sijan
08-16-2008, 16:11
Interesting ideas. I'm guessing that whatever we come up with will be far more expensive than actual bourbon. :grin:

How is liquid smoke not artificial?

TBoner
08-16-2008, 16:21
It's real smoke and water vapor collected in condensed form, distillate of charcoal in a sense. It is artificial in a sense, I guess, but there's no requirement for or prohibition against artificiality, only a requirement that the impression of whiskey be artificial (i.e., not made from bourbon distillate and/or oak). Liquid smoke is definitely usable in this challenge, since you can get it most anywhere, including may gas stations.

Regards,

cowdery
08-16-2008, 18:30
I was kidding when I said it had to be 100% artificial. The main idea is that all the ingredients should be very easy to obtain and the production process should also be very simple. Yes, of course, this is exactly what was done in the days before the Bottled in Bond and Pure Food and Drug Acts, and also during Prohibition. Prune juice is another classic ingredient I had forgotten. It bears repeating that there is no point to this. It's just a goof.

Jono
08-18-2008, 12:02
The corn based Rain vodka may be a good choice for a base.

TBoner
08-18-2008, 18:05
Jono, I was thinking along similar lines. A Texas-produced vodka, Tito's, is 100% and pretty fat on the palate for a vodka. I use this or Sobieski as my house vodka. The latter is 100% rye. Perhaps a base ratio of, say 70/30?

Regards,

Jono
08-19-2008, 10:25
"...Tito's, is 100% and pretty fat on the palate for a vodka. I use this or Sobieski as my house vodka. The latter is 100% rye...."

This sounds like quite a fun experiment....those vodkas certainly could be bases. I can see little dashes of various flavoring being added for some truly awful and hopefully successful trials. Hmm...the idea of using cereal - unsweetened - comes to mind.

TBoner
08-19-2008, 18:41
Chuck, several Indian markets near my house sell a variety of extracts: banana, vanilla, almond, of course, but also various lesser-known fruits, some flowers, etc...are these fair game? If not, what about more common items like orange flower water and rose water - I can get these at several, but not all, supermarkets. (Not trying to get too hung up on rules, but I'm a teacher and school starts Monday...rules are where my mind is right now).

Regards,

cowdery
08-19-2008, 23:58
We're feeling our way here so give it a try. If somebody comes up with something good using a more exotic ingredient, maybe we can mess around and find a good substitute at Kroger's.

Jono
08-20-2008, 11:21
This takes me back to chemistry class titration experiments...drop by drop until the ideal solution is achieved....however, the result "may" be drinkable.
Kind of like "Iron Whiskey" competition....the chairmen says the secret ingredient is "Vodka"...now home tasters....ready, set, titrate!

CorvallisCracker
08-21-2008, 13:58
Don't forget the bacon!!!!!!

Gillman
08-21-2008, 14:06
You guys are going to laugh, but somewhere I read - I think it was in a book or thesis on Canadian whisky production at the end of the 1800's - that barrels of whisky sometimes contained pieces of salt pork. This was because barrels that had held this porcine staple of the 1800's were then quickly turned around for use to hold whisky, too fat (sorry, I meant fast :)) for comfort, it appeared - or maybe not, maybe some customers liked it that way.

I've said it before and I'll say it again: there is nothing new under the sow, sorry I meant sun. :)

Gary

CorvallisCracker
08-21-2008, 14:53
I've said it before and I'll say it again: there is nothing new under the sow, sorry I meant sun. :)


Gary, don't be such a boar. :lol:

Gillman
08-21-2008, 18:47
Actually I can't, it just isn't in me. :)

Gary

(This is a double play on an old ad on tv here for, as I recall it, some kind of corned beef: the voice over said to the tinned marvel: "Say oink". The answer: "Moo". Again: "Say oink". Answer: "Moo". Questioner: "Why won't you say oink?". The palaver-ending replique: "It just isn't in me. :)).

Gillman
08-22-2008, 05:19
I'm going to take a stab at a whiskey substitute. I'll use vodka as the base, add maple syrup and a dash of the juice from a jar of prunes. A little carob (used in some 1800's rectifier's recipes) might help if I can find some (even if in whole form, e.g., if candies, they can be added to soak in). I am not expecting much but it will be an interesting experiment. I'll make a few ounces and can always add it to the jar of prunes if I don't like it.

The value of these experiments, apart from the whimsy of it, is that it helps to tease out and catalogue the elements of whiskey flavor.

Gary

cowdery
08-29-2008, 16:49
I've begun.

This isn't going to be easy.

Convincing top notes, it turns out, are pretty easy. It's the body of the taste that's hard.

In the spices section at the supermarket, I found both anise extract and mint extract. A little goes a long way. Likewise with liquid smoke. I've never really liked liquid smoke in anything and I don't like it that much here either.

Go easy on the simple syrup too. It's easy to oversweeten to the point where it starts to taste more like a liqueur.

Best discovery so far: hot sauce. I'm using Frank's. That's in the literature, so I can't claim I thought of it. It gives you that burn in the back of the throat.

tdelling
09-22-2008, 19:58
You know, hot sauce is sort of cheating, since it's aged in oak barrels.


Other ideas:
1) Are toothpicks allowed?
2) If you use a tea bag two or three times, the next extraction is basically bitter tannins. So that's another tannin source there.
3) I think you're looking for things that you'd find in a Piggly Wiggly, but to my taste buds, kukicha tea is right on the money for formulating a whiskey. If you wander into Whole Foods from time to time, they sometimes have it in the bulk section.

Tim Dellinger

kickert
12-05-2008, 12:55
How is this experiment coming. I have been waiting for an recipe that is worth trying!

-bk

cowdery
12-07-2008, 17:34
All I can say is that it's harder than it looks.

tommyboy38
05-05-2009, 08:56
Has the experiment concluded? Any good results/recipes?

Maybe we can submit a bottle to the San Fran Spirits Fest and win the double gold for Faux American Whiskey.:lol:

cowdery
05-13-2009, 12:51
I never got very far and abandoned the experiment.

For one thing, you have to start with something like Everclear if you're going to use ingredients such as tea and prune juice, and I didn't care enough about the project to invest in a bottle.

tommyboy38
05-13-2009, 14:01
I may give it a try if I find some time...I find the idea fascinating if I was able to pull it off.

pepcycle
05-14-2009, 09:53
I just thought I'd give this a try.

Here's what I have infusing.

6 oz Pure Blue Corn based Vodka

10 raisins

1/2 a vanilla bean

Four Oak Chips Charred on the grill. (1 x 1 x 1 cm)

All ingredients are in a cheesecloth bourse in a mason jar with the vodka.

cowdery
05-14-2009, 10:49
If nothing else, it's bound to improve the vodka.

pepcycle
05-14-2009, 15:46
I can't wait to eat the raisins and throw the rest away.

gr8erdane
05-15-2009, 12:53
The cheesecloth might be the most salvagable item.

pepcycle
05-22-2009, 11:06
The raisins didn't work, so a new experiment.
The color was great, but there was a distinctly molasses like quality that I didn't care for.
Solution:
Prunes!!!!

I'm infusing the corn vodka with chopped prunes.

Say goodbye to Oak Chips.

I charred a dozen toothpicks and their soaking in the mixture.

Anybody know what wood toothpicks are made from?
I think its Birch!

PS: The cheesecloth was delicious

pepcycle
05-31-2009, 08:15
Things are progressing nicely.
The color is just about perfect.
I added more charred toothpicks to accelerate the "wood".
Vanilla bean added for one day and removed.

Doesn't taste bad.

TNbourbon
05-31-2009, 21:24
...I charred a dozen toothpicks...
:lol::skep: Okay, I'll bite -- how DOES one char a toothpick, Ed -- and still have anything left?!
(Not that I care to try it, really, understand. It's just an intellectual curiosity, as it were.)

BourbonJoe
06-01-2009, 05:03
I think you're losing it Ed.
Joe :usflag:

Jake_Parrott
06-01-2009, 14:16
Just coming back to this topic. Do note such a product as "tannin powder" exists, if you need to punch up the mouthfeel.

pepcycle
06-01-2009, 18:10
After "significant" experimentation, the best way to char toothpicks is to put them in a toaster oven.
I use the same recipe that I use to toast pignoli nuts (which I char accidentally everytime)

I might try a little Dalidyne for the tannin. (Is it still available?)

jburlowski
06-03-2009, 17:31
The raisins didn't work, so a new experiment.
The color was great, but there was a distinctly molasses like quality that I didn't care for.
Solution:
Prunes!!!!



This could become your regular pour....

pepcycle
06-04-2009, 13:32
I was trying to think of catchy names that would hint "prunes" but not say it.

Old Montezuma's Revenge

The Wrath of Corn

TP Reserve

gr8erdane
06-09-2009, 17:50
Old Nip Van Wrinkle? Old Commodewealth? (Sorry Julian, no offense against fine products intended)

gr8erdane
06-09-2009, 17:51
Joe, you're assuming he had it to begin with...

TNbourbon
06-09-2009, 19:55
I was trying to think of catchy names that would hint "prunes" but not say it...
Old Plum? Or, for that matter, Plumb Old? Unstucky Straight Burnin' Shi...no, let's don't go there!

pepcycle
06-10-2009, 11:27
Test 2 is now officially a failure.

In a blind taste test, two testees (not testes) indicated that Evan Williams was bourbon and the other stuff was darn good barrel aged, Rum!!!!

Darn it. I feel like the scientist looking to create a filet of flounder, crossed a flounder with a jellyfish and came up with a bony jellyfish

Test 3 will now commence.

cowdery
06-10-2009, 12:36
It's not as easy as it seems.

kickert
06-11-2009, 07:54
My first attempt is under way:
2oz Vodka
1 drop imitation vanilla
2 small (or one large) drip light pancake syrup
5 uncrushed black pepper corns.
fresh wood shavings
toasted wood shavings
charred wood shavingsThe initial results are good, but the barrel/smoke/char flavor is notably off; it is more campfire than bourbon barrel.


On another note, my imitation scotch is indistinguishable from the real thing: 2 sweaty work socks (if you work with cattle the taste is much more authentic); half an ashtray of cigarette butts; 1 cup of mulch. Let it sit in a bath of vodka for a week and you are golden.

pepcycle
06-11-2009, 13:02
I got the same thing in my preliminary test.
Charred wood gives a wet fire smell/taste.
Heavily toasted gives a better smokiness without that wet burnt newspaper quality.

I'm going to grate some barrel char off a stave on this next round.
This is used cooperage.

gr8erdane
06-11-2009, 16:36
Ben you forgot the eyedropper of iodine for the scotch.

barturtle
06-12-2009, 09:53
Guys, what happened to this rule?


No actual wood, not actual whiskey, no pre-made "whiskey essense." We're looking for 100% artificial ingredients.


I'm seeing a lot of actual wood being used...

pepcycle
06-12-2009, 15:09
No actual wood!!!!!

Ooops.

OK, Back to the drawing board.

kickert
06-12-2009, 19:11
Guys, what happened to this rule?




I'm seeing a lot of actual wood being used...

Timothy, you are such an elitist when it comes to fake whiskey... :lol:

cowdery
06-15-2009, 13:10
Perhaps I should modify that rule. Does the use of real wood make fake whiskey less fake?

OscarV
06-15-2009, 14:18
Perhaps I should modify that rule. Does the use of real wood make fake whiskey less fake?

Hmm, you bring up an interesting point, maybe someone could try veneer,:grin: ,..... or maybe not.

pepcycle
06-15-2009, 14:53
No, Don't change the rules.

I think I can actually do better by using wood extracts than real wood.

RWBadley
06-15-2009, 16:43
No, Don't change the rules.

I think I can actually do better by using wood extracts than real wood.

I've been following this with interest. I have vodka that needs a playmate. My tentative recipe is:

some Vodka
a rainier cherry
genuine imitation maple syrup
mexican vanilla extract 1932 vintage (is it cheating if the extract was wood aged?)
mint leaf
and
Leather shavings for flavor and body?

This might be too light in color-tho it is a very dark leather belt:grin: I'll let you know later..

RWBadley
06-17-2009, 11:10
some Vodka
a rainier cherry
genuine imitation maple syrup
mexican vanilla extract 1932 vintage (is it cheating if the extract was wood aged?)
mint leaf
and
Leather shavings for flavor and body?

This might be too light in color-tho it is a very dark leather belt:grin: I'll let you know later..

I did try this with some modifications.

No cherry, candied pineapple.
No mint, black peppercorn for short time

The result is golden color. With a little too much vanilla. It sure doesn't take much vanilla- I just dipped the tip of a knife into it and stirred, and that was plenty/too much.

The flavor is pretty OK. Again, a little too much vanilla- but I think it's on the right track. This vintage vanilla (from 1935- not '32 as I thought) has a fair amount of wood/oxidation to it. Just the thing for flavor complexity. The belt leather I think was a good addition, for both color/flavor and maybe body also, who knows.

All in all, not a bad first attempt. The flavor is more a hit than the nose. I think I'll try again with some further changes. :grin:

Cheers,

RW

kickert
06-17-2009, 15:00
I did try this with some modifications.


The result is golden color. With a little too much vanilla. It sure doesn't take much vanilla- I just dipped the tip of a knife into it and stirred, and that was plenty/too much.


you are so right about not needing much vanilla. I do like the leather idea and peppercorn has done good for me.

tommyboy38
06-18-2009, 15:52
Stopped in a Polish deli/liquor store today and they had oak flavored vodka...not sure if it's real oak or artificially oak flavored.

Josh
06-18-2009, 16:22
Stopped in a Polish deli/liquor store today and they had oak flavored vodka...not sure if it's real oak or artificially oak flavored.

You mean they had Segram's 7?

RWBadley
06-18-2009, 18:01
You mean they had Segram's 7?

:slappin:...................

tommyboy38
07-19-2009, 10:19
It was actually vodka.....not vodka passing itself off as whiskey.

pepcycle
07-29-2009, 15:44
Well, I think I've done it.

I made three different versions of "aged" fake bourbon and its pretty darned good.

Secret ingredient: Marshmallows:burnt!!!

It takes about 5 days of soaking burnt marshmallow "skin" in GNS or Corn based vodka to get a decent batch.

You can adjust sweetness, vanilla, "wood" with various degrees of marshmallow charring.
I prefer a number 4 marshmallow char.

I'll bring some to the 'zebo in various "ages" and you can judge.
I need someone else to try this and see if they can duplicate my results.

Sijan
07-29-2009, 16:44
Impressive, Ed. I may try to duplicate once we get the grill unpacked. How does the color come out?

pepcycle
07-29-2009, 20:13
I'll post a few shots when I get chance to do a side by side.