View Full Version : Can Aged Whiskey be De-Colored and Deodorised?

09-04-2006, 04:56
Not long back I read somewhere that whiskey or other spirits aged in wood can be lightened in colour and its odor can be removed or lessened.

It was in the context of a discussion about aging and the market for aged products. The account said spirits can be turned essentially into white spirits if the market requires it.

I am wondering how in fact this is done. The account did not say how. One option is redistillation, and I don't doubt that occurs in some cases, but due to cost or other factors that may not work in all cases. E.g. say you wanted to bottle a rum of medium color and flavor, could you deodorise and de-color a dark Demerara for this purpose? Would this be possible for (say, American blended) whiskey? If so how is it done?


09-04-2006, 14:47

As one data point, is Gentleman Jack lighter in flavor and color after being run through charcoal a second time?

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

09-04-2006, 14:51
Good point Dave.

The Gentleman isn't lightened though to the point of a white or near-white colour and very mild taste.

I understand it is possible to "reverse" aged spirit in this way. But how?


09-04-2006, 15:46
Maybe a membrane as is used in the production of reverse osmosis water? I don't know if it is done, but if the molecules that flavor aged spirit are larger than alcohol molecules then I am sure that it can be done. For that matter the water could be removed that way.

09-04-2006, 16:56
A while back there was a discussion about raising the proof of a bottle(another of Gary's threads I believe (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads-6.5/showthread.php?t=5179&highlight=magic):lol: ). Tim Dellinger knows a bit about this. Maybe there's a similar item that would remove just the flavors or coloring agents.

If there are enough types to modify the flavors, you could take a bottle of Pappy 23 and get a nice barrel proof 7yo out of it.:bigeyes:

Of course maybe just running it through some activated charcoal would help to strip flavor and color, the trick would be figuring out how much to use. Might want to try it with coffee first to avoid wasting hard to come by and expensive liquor. I'd be tempted to take a pot of coffee and run it through a britta pitcher and see what happens, if it's too much maybe just sitting the filter in the coffee will allow the agent to act with it and modify it more slowly...or if it strips too much see what happens when you strip some and add in some unmodified product.

09-04-2006, 18:09
I agree with the comments already made: I think activated charcoal filtration will do the job. It is commonly used in chemistry labs for just this purpose. Classes start this week, so I can't do the experiment immediately, and I don't have any cheap swill to sacrifice, though I think I can find a cheapie bottom shelfer (Old Crow?) to try the experiment. Maybe a couple of minis. Also distillation works, but then the legal status is lost: it becomes new make spirit again. This happened to Glen Kella, the "white whisky." Used to be a web site detailing the troubles it experienced with the SWA. Maybe still exists.

09-05-2006, 01:21
Activated carbon will definatly do the job. Have tried this out with my old mans still setup.

After he has distlled the spirit the puts it through a filter made of a 2m long stailness tube(approx 15cm diameter) packed with activated carbon/charcoal, it takes about a week for a couple of liters of spirit to make its way though the filter. Then he soaks the "clean" spirit in wood chips and it goes a dark brown colour over a few days, its then flavored.

I have put the wood soaked spirit back though the filter and it comes out crystal clear.

This setup makes an OK bourbon or Rum for mixing but is best when just using the clean spirit and making liquors like sambuca

09-05-2006, 01:29
Not sure if you've seen this one:


(if the link does not work it is J&B -6 degrees)

09-05-2006, 04:52
Thanks gents, it seems a close filtration will do it, most interesting.

The other thread had discussed I believe increasing proof in a finished beverage, and I think it was agreed this might be difficult to do without redistillation.


09-05-2006, 05:19
Some rum producers do this to produce softer white rums.

09-05-2006, 13:29
Frost 8/80. The product Brown-Forman would like to forget. In order to make a "lite whiskey" they filtered all of the color out of some of their whiskey. A huge flop in the market.

Mike Veach

09-05-2006, 14:44
I never heard of that product, Mike, when did that come out? I can't recall that any has surfaced on "dusty shelves" forays. We have seen some Light Whiskey out there (I tasted some last year at a Gazebo). It was different than Canadian or any other whiskey, but that one was light amber. Sounds like this Frost one was bleached completely by the filtration process.

Subsidiary thought: since most whiskey undergoes a, activated charcoal filtration before bottling, I wonder why it doesn't lose color, it must have to do with the intensity of the process.


09-06-2006, 06:30
The product dates from the late 1970's and Brown-Forman ended up recalling most of it from the stores and turning it into fuel additives. It sold that well! I have seen a few bottles in my time, but I have never tasted it.

Mike Veach

09-09-2006, 19:06
During my time working with Brown-Forman, Frost 8/80 was spoken about in hushed tones, its name a synonym for "career-ending failure."

09-10-2006, 13:40
Here's a picture of a mini--it's scary to think this concoction actually started out as bourbon!

Has anybody actually tasted this stuff!?

09-11-2006, 04:41
Here's another picture of Frost 8/80 that I swiped off eBay. It says "Distilled in Pennsylvania" !?!?

09-11-2006, 20:02
I just punched "Frost 8/80" into Google, and got this article from 1971 (http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,904993-1,00.html) about the "light whiskey" phenomenon.

Wow, "career-ending failure" is an understatement - a "billion-dollar gamble" in 1971 dollars is really a hell of a lot of money.

09-13-2006, 01:23
This is a variation on the topic, but a few months ago I saw an episode of Mythbusters on the Discovery Channel. They were testing to see if filtration could turn cheap gut rot vodka into high end vodka.
They took a generic vodka one of the ones that makes paint thinner look good and tested it against a bottle that appeared to be Grey Goose. They ran through cheap vodka through a water filter, something like a Brita Pitcher a number of times and it got considerably better, but not quite up to the standard of the Goose. I found it very interesting that the vodka could improve that much, but they also said that the vodka was much harder on the filter than tap water so with the cost of filters, the top shelf is much cheaper than filtered gut rot.

09-13-2006, 01:25
Also I was wondering if anyone here has tasted the Frost 8/80? I wonder if it even tastes like whiskey?

09-13-2006, 07:30
This thread has got me thinking...

Take some of the cheap stuff, filter it till it is as near clear as you can manage, {if not white dog, then yellow dog ;-)!} fill a new, charred oak keg with the results and see what happens.


09-27-2006, 03:48
I'll be honest after rereading this thread, I'm trying to figure out why distilleries would take such a financial risk. Whiskey, by nature, is a very intensely flavored spirit and that's what people like it for. It's why I love it, It''s probably why most of the people here like it too. Otherwise we'd just drink vodka, it'll get you drunk too. I guess Whiskey appeals to a certain demographic and I don't think messing with that demographic seems smart from a marketing standpoint. It seems like the base market would be put off by it and the market they are appealing to (the light rum and vodka drinkers), would be scared. I don't know, I guess I'm just suprised people much smarter than me would sign off on it.