View Full Version : Charcoal filtering at home

10-18-2004, 12:02
I have a question. Say I have a bottle of bourbon, or scotch, that seems too congeneric in taste. Recently I bought a McClelland's Islay which I believe is young Bowmore whiskey. It seemed quite feisty (I wonder if "feinty" is etymologically related!), not from the peat, but from the inherent distillery character. Is there any reason I cannot buy activated charcoal and dump some in the bottle, leave it for a few days, and see what happens when it settles down? Where can I get small quantities of such a thing and how much should I add? (Teaspoon, tablespoon, half-cup?). I would like to experiment to see if I can reduce the rough edges. While most bourbons are pretty clean today, I might want to try this with one of the younger bourbons that are available. Any comments/suggestions are appreciated.


10-18-2004, 13:30
There's lots of information and a number of first-hand reports
at Tony Ackland's site www.homedistiller.org (http://www.homedistiller.org)
Go to Distilling > Polishing Neutral Spirits > Types of Carbon

There's also some related interesting reading in the section
Flavouring > Using Wood > Charcoal & Wood

The site is mostly aimed at people distilling 'shine from sugar, but
there's a fair amount of rum and whiskey knowledge on there, too.

Tim Dellinger

10-18-2004, 15:38
Thanks Tim, I have run across this site before when web searching various distillation issues, but did not think of it with regard to my question. I looked at the polishing section per your suggestion and it gave me ideas how to filter commercial (purchased) whiskey. Amazing the extent to which people have thought through these problems.


10-18-2004, 15:52
Just to give an opinion: if it were me, I'd buy the cheapest Brita
filter at the store, slice it open to extract the carbon, wash the
carbon with water to get the dust out and to wet it a bit, then
toss about a half a cup into a bottle for a few hours... oh, and be sure
to keep a "control sample" with no carbon in order to see if it's

Tim Dellinger

10-18-2004, 16:04
Why not just get one of those filter pitchers and pour the bourbon through it? http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/cool.gif

10-18-2004, 17:00
I'll try this and let you know!


10-18-2004, 17:01
Not sure what you mean, Jeff.


10-18-2004, 17:43
I've got a bag of Barrel char from BT that I had intended to use in my smoke cooker. However, your post got me to thinking, perhaps I can use if for a similar purpose. I'm going to dump some char into some MM and age it for a few years. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/lol.gif

10-18-2004, 17:59
Not sure what you mean, Jeff.

Brita (and other companies) sell pitchers with built-in replaceable filters, like this (http://www.waterproducts.com/0974-005.html).

10-18-2004, 21:10
Thanks and I will try one of these methods, I am intrigued.


10-19-2004, 11:05
Empty your fish tank and fill it with bourbon.
Run the filter.
Collect Bourbon

10-19-2004, 15:35
This is scary, I was thinking the same thing.... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/crazy.gif

I think brisket plugs from the same brisket must cause a psychic link. Move over Psychic Hotline, here come's Pepcycle's Psychic Brisket Plugs..... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smilielol.gif

10-19-2004, 16:25
Here is (a propos I am not sure what) an English recipe for brisket.

Use the flat end mostly (a bit of the larger end is okay).

Layer top of meat with sliced onion. Some people coat the meat first in flour seasoned with salt and pepper. If you do this, don't overdo the flour and do NOT saute the meat. I do advise the preliminary dousing in flour.

Over the onion-covered meat, pour about a cup of 1/3rd ale or stout, 1/3rd port or sherry [Bourbon is an option here, but not traditional] and 1/3rd good wine vinegar (or any vinegar). Don't overdo the liquid, this is a braise, not a stew.

Add salt and pepper to taste if not added earlier. Garlic, etc. is optional. NO green herbs, no nutmeg or that kind of spice, this is an English country recipe and relatively plain. Toy with it too much and it won't taste right. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

Cover with a good-fitting lid. (I use an enamelled oval baking dish, but glass pyrex works too). Bake for a couple of hours or more until fork tender. Don't bake it too high, say, 325 F. I have gone as low as 250 F but if you do that cook longer commensurately. A Funk and Wagnall's helps too. http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/smile.gif

You can use half ale and half port but some vinegar added is an improvement. My particular version is exactly the recipe of the famed English food writer Elizabeth David who called the dish charmingly (even though it is not a stew as we know it), "Sussex Stewed Steak".

I think she said you could throw a couple of large flat dark mushrooms in there as well.

Top round or a good blade cut can be used instead of brisket, but don't use a cut that is too good, it won't taste right. Also, you need a cut that lies flat, is rectangular more or less, and not too thick, hence the suitability of that part of the beef brisket.

Bake until fork tender but not overdone.

Accompaniments: mashed potatos with butter and chives and steamed green vegetables such as brocolli or cabbage or brussel sprouts. Southern-style greens would be ideal. To drink, good ale again or stout, or a good deep red wine, nothing too fancy though.

Try it, it is good, especially for the fall or winter.