There are now many commercial flavorings available, which turn vodka into pretty decent gin or whiskey, or all manor of liqueurs.
If you're looking for essences, contact Brewhaus

Or you can soak it with oak chips and make whiskey, or soak fruits in it to make your own liqueurs.

See the following sections ...
The liqueurs can be made using

Most of the fun comes from trying out different flavors, and making up your own liqueurs. Whiskeys etc usually require a bit of time spent with oak - something like 80% of the flavor is said to come from the wood.

It is quite tricky however to copy exactly the flavor of a favourite spirit. There are many factors which influence the flavor, and we can't easy copy them, nor quickly mature a whisky;
  • The two main sources of organoleptically (smell/taste) important compounds are
    • the yeast used during fermentation, and
    • the oak barrels used to mature the spirit in
    other factors include
    • the proportions of grains used
    • mashing technique,
    • fermentation environment, and
    • type and operation of the distilling equipment.
  • Most manufacturers use a form of S.cerevisia, though some may also use some brewers yeast too.
  • Sometimes, bacterial activity is actually encouraged in the wash to some extent. These include lactic acid bacteria, Gram positive & Gram negative bacteria. These will excrete compounds that add to the organoleptic qualities. These bacteria need to be really carefully controlled and managed, kept well below certain levels. (This would be a real fine balancing act, by experienced brewers - don't try it at home kids)
  • Most wash is fermented out to around 10-12% alcohol, though some may be 8% (quite different to the 23% we're targetting - thus get a different concentration of the flavors)
  • The use of copper in the still to fix some of the sulfur containing compounds (hmmm... go the guys with an all-stainless setup - though I've heard of copper strips being hung in the headspace)
  • Maturation involves three different actions ...
    • extraction of compounds out of the oak, including lignin, tannins, oak lactones, sugars, glycerol, and fructose. This can be affected by the % of the alcohol, and even how the wood was dried. Around 25-30% of the colour is developed in the first 6 months.
    • modification of the compounds, to form aldehydes (particularly acetaldehyde), acetic acid, and esters (ethyl acetate) - this takes time
    • subtraction of volitile compounds by evaporation and absorbtion into the charred surfaces - this takes time, and needs to be quite selective
  • the flavors which add to the taste/smell can be present in very small concentrations - only one volitile compound (isoamyl alcohol) exceeds 0.01%, whereas most of the others present are less than 50 parts per million (ppm). Some importants ones are there in parts-per-billion . Heaps of different ones are listed in the books. You're not going to find all these in the essences, nor in the exact right proportions.

I haven't listed all this to discourage us, but rather just to point out the difficulties if trying to match an old favourite. The best option is to experiment around with the different flavors, techniques etc, and see what works for you. If you catch onto something good, please share it with the rest of us. Although I've made some fairly quaffable spirit from neutral alcohol, I still haven't quite cracked how to make something comparable with any of the decent traditional single malts. But, I've only just begun !

For a huge description of all the different styles of spirits, their production, etc, see the educational material from the University of Nevada Las Vegas Hotel Administration Course : (local index)

http://homedistiller.org     This page last modified Tue, 20 Jan 2015 20:51:05 -0800