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View Full Version : Risky? Whisky - Anyone Try This Yet?



darylld911
07-09-2012, 17:54
While at a hotel in Louisville, I picked up a box kit of Risky? Whisky, which I hadn't seen yet in Georgia. It is marketed as "Barrel Your Own Bourbon", and conceptually is simple enough. You get a 375 ml bottle of white dog, a mason jar with toasted/charred oak chips, a funnel (with a "filter" that is really just a cotton ball), and a blank label. You dump the white dog into the jar, seal it up, and in a few weeks you have a "bourbon-like" whisky. The white dog is 125 proof, and they recommend that you add water to the finished product (you use the bottle which the white dog comes in for the finished product, but as the oak chips soak some up - there is room for water).

I've read some reviews on other web-sites where some folks have had a decent experience with it. They encourage you to experiment, including adding other stuff if you want. I'm trying this first batch with nothing added to see how it turns out (and have it in my attic for now so that the heat will allow it to interact more with the wood chips). Just curious if anyone in SB nation has tried this, and what their thoughts are on the whole concept. If it works - seems like you could buy any white dog and do this yourself, using different types of wood chips, etc.

callmeox
07-09-2012, 17:58
Since contact with wood is only one variable in aging whiskey, I don't think the mason jar/wood chip process is one that I would be interested in trying. The whiskey needs contact with air to have a chance to age "properly".

You're going to end up with a woody white dog but it may be a good learning experience.

Bourbon Boiler
07-09-2012, 18:45
I've done a handful of experiments with various white dogs and "legal moonshines" to try to make bourbons and rums. The journey is worth a lot more than the destination. You can learn a lot, but don't count on finishing with a great product. I have had my best successes with corn whiskeys for whatever reason.

BFerguson
07-09-2012, 19:11
I think the only risky part is the odds of coming up with something even remotely palatable.

B

tmckenzie
07-10-2012, 03:29
Did the white dog smell and taste like georgia moon? If not it will not work to hot. Also, like the poster above said, you need air. I would try drilling a whole in thee lid of the jar lid and putting a fermentation lock like home brewers use to let it get some air. I talk to a lot of other micros who ask me, why does our whiskey taste wierd. I always say send me some white dog. Eveytime almost, the white dog is almost vodka. I tell them go get some georgia moon, drink some and familiarize yourself with it. That is what you are shooting far. Put vodka in a barrel you get woody vodka.

darylld911
07-10-2012, 04:14
Did the white dog smell and taste like georgia moon? If not it will not work to hot. Also, like the poster above said, you need air. I would try drilling a whole in thee lid of the jar lid and putting a fermentation lock like home brewers use to let it get some air. I talk to a lot of other micros who ask me, why does our whiskey taste wierd. I always say send me some white dog. Eveytime almost, the white dog is almost vodka. I tell them go get some georgia moon, drink some and familiarize yourself with it. That is what you are shooting far. Put vodka in a barrel you get woody vodka.

I've not had Georgia Moon, but the white dog smelled like Buffalo Trace White Dog that I've tried (like an unaged corn whiskey). It wasn't a NGS or vodka like.

You and callmeox bring up a very good point with the air. One of the tips on their web-site recommends opening the jar from time to time to smell it (not sure if that is allowing enough air?). They also recommend "exercising" it by shaking it once in a while. My hopes are to wind up with something that is at least drinkable on the rocks. I'm going to start tasting it at 3 weeks (from what I've read that is about the earliest it might be ready, where most people prefer something closer to 4 weeks) and will report what I get. I think Bourbon Boiler nailed it - the journey will be worth more than the destination :)

Enoch
07-10-2012, 06:43
I've done a handful of experiments with various white dogs and "legal moonshines" to try to make bourbons and rums. The journey is worth a lot more than the destination. You can learn a lot, but don't count on finishing with a great product. I have had my best successes with corn whiskeys for whatever reason.

I agree. I have not tried this kit but the local liquidhobby.com store sells various types of wood 1 cm cubes in different toasts and chars for a few dollars a bag. So I have bought them and experimented. Lots of fun but I have yet to turn up anything very enjoyable.

mosugoji64
07-10-2012, 08:03
My wife got me one of these for Xmas. I tasted it periodically over 6-7 weeks and determined the flavor wasn't changing after 3-4 weeks. Ended up tasting like a smoked corn whiskey, which isn't bad but it's not bourbon. The white dog is LDI, BTW. After dumping the jar, I used the chips to add some flavor to a bottle of Early Times that I use for cooking. It was fun as a gift, but I don't think I would have bought the kit on my own.

AaronWF
07-10-2012, 08:53
I can't say this sort of thing holds any interest for me whatsoever. Throwing LDI white dog and wood chips into a mason jar is not 'barreling your own bourbon,' it's marketing spin, and I find it somewhat demeaning. Is it even bourbon if the only contact with oak chips is in a glass container? Maybe I'm just being grumpy, but all I can say about it is baaahhhhhhh humbug!

grubbster
07-10-2012, 09:21
This reminds me of the "beechwood aging" marketing that Budweiser used to do. I was told they would just put beech wood planks into their stainless storage tanks. The product still sucked IMO.

darylld911
07-10-2012, 09:25
I can't say this sort of thing holds any interest for me whatsoever. Throwing LDI white dog and wood chips into a mason jar is not 'barreling your own bourbon,' it's marketing spin, and I find it somewhat demeaning. Is it even bourbon if the only contact with oak chips is in a glass container? Maybe I'm just being grumpy, but all I can say about it is baaahhhhhhh humbug!

I made that argument to the cashier as well (it has to be aged in new, charred oak containers - not aged in a container which has chips of new, charred oak). Trust me - I have no delusions of this coming out anything like bourbon, but hoping it comes out as a drinkable whiskey.

darylld911
07-10-2012, 09:30
My wife got me one of these for Xmas. I tasted it periodically over 6-7 weeks and determined the flavor wasn't changing after 3-4 weeks. Ended up tasting like a smoked corn whiskey, which isn't bad but it's not bourbon. The white dog is LDI, BTW. After dumping the jar, I used the chips to add some flavor to a bottle of Early Times that I use for cooking. It was fun as a gift, but I don't think I would have bought the kit on my own.

Thanks for the heads up on the white dog origin - as well as the plateau after 3-4 weeks. That will save me a few worthless weeks of waiting for improvement :lol:

soonami
07-10-2012, 12:31
This is interesting. As a homebrewer of beer, I have bought and experimented with a variety of oak chips and cubes, they can be purchased relatively cheaply at homebrewing websites (http://www.midwestsupplies.com/catalogsearch/result/index/?limit=all&q=oak+chips). Usually you soak the chips first to remove some of the very woody astringency, pour off the liquid and throw in the wet chips into the beer. Some of the chips (medium toast American oak especially) smell just like bourbon when wet and boiled for a minute. It was really shocking how much vanilla, caramel and woody aroma I got from an ounce of wood chips. Different combinations yielded different profiles.

Also, what shouldn't be forgotten is that white dog is not a neutral spirit, it's 160 proof at most so there's 20+% of liquid in there that isn't alcohol, so there's a lot of flavor that is contributed by the grains and yeast from the mash. And most "barrel proof" bourbons are usually 55-60% ABV after the angel's share, so there's some contribution from the evaporation process and the change in ABV during aging.

It's still a neat experiment and I would really like to try this too.


This reminds me of the "beechwood aging" marketing that Budweiser used to do. I was told they would just put beech wood planks into their stainless storage tanks. The product still sucked IMO.

Budweiser does beechwood age their beer. But the wood is boiled or steamed to be completely sterile and then they add the beech chips to the bright tanks of budweiser to help provide surface area for the yeast to cling to as they clarify the beer. The beech adds absolutely no flavor (nowadays at least) and is used only as a way to pull yeast out of the beer to make later filtration and pasteurization easier.

cowdery
07-10-2012, 14:24
I think it's a cute idea, a good way to get some sense of the interaction between wood and spirit, and chips in a Mason jar is a pretty authentic moonshiner technique. Best part, at the end of the day you've only got to worry about choking down 375 ml of the stuff and, for that matter, it's little enough that you won't feel too bad about throwing it away. You're certainly not going to make a great whiskey, but it could be fun. There's also the Woodinville product if you want to do the small barrel thing, so this is another alternative.

I would probably dilute the spirt to maybe 110 proof to start. You might even want to blow into it with a straw from time to time, to get a little more oxidation. That's what I mean. It's something to play around with.

This isn't a 'instant whiskey' scam, but it makes me think about those. Two things amaze me (1) people can still be convinced such things work, and (2) some people believe that not only do they work, they are being used by manufacturers and sold as straight whiskey.

Rutherford
07-10-2012, 15:02
My wife got me one of these for Xmas. I tasted it periodically over 6-7 weeks and determined the flavor wasn't changing after 3-4 weeks. Ended up tasting like a smoked corn whiskey, which isn't bad but it's not bourbon. The white dog is LDI, BTW. After dumping the jar, I used the chips to add some flavor to a bottle of Early Times that I use for cooking. It was fun as a gift, but I don't think I would have bought the kit on my own.

Finally, something to do with my Early Times and the extra oak chips I have laying around from homebrewing. This almost seems like a better experience, since Early Times is cheap, barrel-aged long enough to interact with the air, and has a really boring flavor profile that could use some new oak.

cowdery
07-10-2012, 19:00
The main thing you'll learn is the limitation of this method. The whiskey might soak into the wood but how do you get it back out? Some compounds will dissolve into solution, but part of the action in the barrel is the expansion-contraction that isn't occurring in the jar. Think infusion, although you have to be careful with heat because you don't want the alcohol to evaporate. The more you get into it, the more you understand why wood chips are not a good substitute for a barrel.

LongBeachScott
07-10-2012, 20:47
I haven't tried such a kit, but I am tempted to buy a bottle of BT White Dog or Georgia Moon and embrace my inner alchemist.

darylld911
07-11-2012, 03:27
The main thing you'll learn is the limitation of this method. The whiskey might soak into the wood but how do you get it back out? Some compounds will dissolve into solution, but part of the action in the barrel is the expansion-contraction that isn't occurring in the jar. Think infusion, although you have to be careful with heat because you don't want the alcohol to evaporate. The more you get into it, the more you understand why wood chips are not a good substitute for a barrel.

I think this is probably a bigger factor than the air. To your point - even when I place the jar in my attic, the wood chips within aren't really expanding like a barrel would (or wood - I can't resist that pun!) The expansion of the barrel really draws the whiskey in, while contraction pushes it out - and in this experiment, that action isn't going to take place (at least not the same).

I have pondered trying to replicate something ala "Devil's Cut" to extract some of the whiskey from the wood. After dumping the jar, I'm thinking of adding a few ounces of purified water to shake that around for a while (and maybe even let that sit in the sun?) to try to draw more flavor from the wood chips. My guess is that this will make it just a bit more "woody". I don't expect this experiment to produce the trademark bourbon vanilla/caramel tones - but as someone else described it as a smokey corn whiskey.

PaulO
07-12-2012, 04:40
I think the result of the old moonshiner trick was basically to color the white dog, to make it look like bourbon. Everything I've read so far leads me to believe there is no real substitute for 4+ years in a new charred white oak 53 gallon barrel. I've never read a good review of anything that came from the smaller barrels. I suppose if some one didn't mind spending multiple thousands of dollars, and waiting several years to age, they could buy a new 53 gallon barrel, and fill it with a quality white dog, maybe dilluted down to 107 proof.

SixDegrees
07-16-2012, 19:45
I've tried this numerous times and have had success. It was interesting that I blind taste tested this with a group of my bourbon drinking budies and the Home made Bourbon tied for first with of all things, Old Forrester. Third was Knob Creek, 4th was Makers 46 and last was Devils Cut. I've heated and cooled it to simulate the temperature changes and as someone mentioned, just let it get some air occasionally. I also used the used chips to age some white rum and I'll tell you what, the rum is FANTASTIC! It was a great gift and I bought more to have fun with. Not for the serious drinker though as they want to drink it NOW!

darylld911
07-17-2012, 03:54
After 10 days, the color hasn't changed much since I'd say about day 4 or 5 (fairly dark), but the nose is as expected - smoked/woody corn whiskey. I'm opening the jar every day to let it get a little air, as well as shaking it after I do that. If the result isn't disgusting, I'll bring some to the KYBF if anyone is interested in sampling what you get.

SixDegrees
07-17-2012, 06:00
I would expect a dark product since you are still Barrel Proof. Most of the Barrel proof I buy is darker than the lower proof since the proofing water tends to "lighten" it up. Try a few trips in/out of the fridge to "move" it in/out of the wood.

tmckenzie
07-18-2012, 04:00
It is my experience that lower barrel proofs make for a darker whiskey. Try doing some of it at 100.

p_elliott
07-18-2012, 07:39
It is my experience that lower barrel proofs make for a darker whiskey. Try doing some of it at 100.

Do you have a hypothosis on this?

darylld911
07-18-2012, 09:02
I've only got the one batch, so I'm basically just following the instructions (not adding anything to the "barrel", aka mason jar). The only variables I'm throwing in are opening it daily to exchange the air (when I remember!) and varying the temperature (I left it in our attic for a couple days, with temps reaching 140 F, left it on my back porch in the mid-90s, and moved to our fridge for a few hours sporadically - as well as shaking it up, which has no basis to what whiskey would go through in a barrel - but serves to make me feel more involved in the process :lol: ). It went in as 125 proof. I'm going to taste it at the 3 week mark at that proof, and per the instructions - when dumped into the original bottle if I fill it with pure water (to replace the volume absorbed by the wood chips) it should bring it down to 100 or 90 proof. I'll probably pour a small amount straight, and a small amount at varying proofs - although I repeat - I don't expect this to taste anything like bourbon, but hopefully an interesting corn whiskey :)

SixDegrees
07-18-2012, 18:57
I think you are correct Mr. McKenzie. The reason is that water is probably the best solvent going and lower proof = more water. The water molecule is much smaller than the alcohol molecule so the higher the water content, the more it will penetrate into the wood. Now with this small amount of wood, it might not make a difference but that is the chemistry behind it (in my opinion since it has been years since I did any chemistry!):cool:

tmckenzie
07-19-2012, 04:21
Yep, water is a better solvent. I was checking some 3 year old wheated bourbon we have in 53 gallon barrels a few days ago and I could not beleive how dark it was. It went in as all our whiskey does at 100 proof. That is one of the reasons that dusty bourbon tastes so much better is it was aged at a lower proof. I also think it gets a whole other range of flavors out of the barrel at that proof. Not so much vanilla, but more butterscotch and maple notes.

darylld911
07-20-2012, 05:59
Yep, water is a better solvent. I was checking some 3 year old wheated bourbon we have in 53 gallon barrels a few days ago and I could not beleive how dark it was. It went in as all our whiskey does at 100 proof. That is one of the reasons that dusty bourbon tastes so much better is it was aged at a lower proof. I also think it gets a whole other range of flavors out of the barrel at that proof. Not so much vanilla, but more butterscotch and maple notes.

Wow - I never would have guessed that. If I try this again (although probably would just buy my own charred chips and white dog), I may split the batch to test some at 100 proof and some at 120 to see the differences. Thanks for the info!!