Dark Chocolate Bourbon

All styles of whiskey. This is for all-grain mashes.

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OtisT
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Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by OtisT » Wed Nov 28, 2018 10:16 am

Dark Chocolate Bourbon

I recently bottled a batch of this dark chocolate bourbon after a year on toasted oak with a heavy char and everyone is loving it. It starts like a bourbon with a good amount of char then finishes with a wonderful chocolate and stout taste that lingers in your mouth a long time. The finish is a bit dry, but not astringent. This bourbon reminds me of a good chocolate stout beer. Use half the specialty grains if you are looking for a more subtle dark chocolate presence.

70% flaked corn
10% british chocolate malt
10% malted red wheat
10% 2 row
+ I also tossed in an extra 5% of British Dark Crystal malt thrown in before the boil for the added stout flavor (ya, that adds up to 105%. Sorry.)

I used the mashing protocol from SCD’s honey bear bourbon, adding the british dark crystal in with the corn.

I used 15% bourbon backset in my ferment and a Belgian Ale yeast.

My tails cut was a bit deeper than normal, which may account for some of the long finish.

I could smell the specialty grains heavily throughout fermentation, distillation, making cuts, and bottling. Early on I thought I may have overdone the specialty grains, but the finished product has turned out perfect for my tastes.

Enjoy. Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by OtisT » Sun Mar 03, 2019 12:05 pm

Dark Chocolate Bourbon

This spirit has been a huge hit with everyone I have shared it with so far and someone on HD was asking for more details on the process/recipe. I have info on this bourbon spread across multiple threads so I am consolidating and clarifying all that info here. Forgive my redundancy.

Grain Bill and Other Ingredients

Grain Bill - Use 2 lb to 2.25 lb of grain per gallon of ferment
70% Flaked Corn
10% British Chocolate Malt
5% British Dark Crystal Malt
10% Malted Red Wheat
10% 2 Row Malt
(I realize this adds up to 105%. It’s that good! ;-)

Other ingredients
* Belle Saison, Belgian saison-style beer yeast. 11g per 5 gallons of ferment
* Backset from previous batch of bourbon (15% of ferment volume +)
* Feints from previous batch of bourbon (late heads, 2x early tails)
* DAP (Diammonium Phosphate) for nutrients. Half the label recommended amount
* B complex vitamins, 1 capsule per 10 gallons
* Potassium Carbonate, enough to adjust initial Ph up to 5.5-6.0
* Oyster shells in a mesh bag or sock for PH control

Feints notes
My recycled feints typically include only the late heads and early tails that did not make the previous cut. i.e. I’m not using all of the feints. For a whiskey to be put in a barrel, my recycled faints are typically 1 part late heads to 2 parts early tails. I reverse that ratio for rum.

Mashing / Fermenting
Before beginning the mash, create a mix of feints/backset (both from a previous batch of bourbon) to be used later in this recipe. Mix your feints with an equal amount of backset, add a small bit of copper, then set aside for use in the spirit run later.

Boil up your backset and about half of the mash water. Not a sissy boil, but a full on rolling boil. Add your corn to the fermenter and carefully mix in all the boiling water. (Warning. Be safe when moving and mixing boiling water. Wear solid shoes, eye protection, long sleeves/pants.). If you use high temp enzymes, now is the time to add them to the hot corn. Insulate the fermenter well and cover when you are not mixing. Mix frequently until the mixture thins and the clumps are gone. Keep this mix as hot as possible for 2-3 hours before proceeding.

Bring the temp of the ferment down to 152 F then add all of the malts. Mix this up really good and insulate again for 4-6 hours before proceeding.

Measure your ferment’s temp. Add cold water (or warm/hot if necessary) to bring your ferment up to the final volume. Mix well and aerate while cooling. Continue cooling the ferment to a degree or two above yeast pitch temp, which for me was 75 F.

Start rehydrating yeast

Mix in nutrients, DAP and Vit B

Test the PH. Backset is acidic and will have driven down your PH. Incrementally add Potassium Carbonate to the ferment until the PH is around 5.5 to 6. Wear eye protection. I mix potassium carbonate in a jar of hot water to dissolve it before adding to the ferment and mixing. The Ph of your water compared to mine and the amount of salts in backset can vary, so I can’t tell you exactly how much to add. I needed around 5oz in my 15 gallon ferment.

Hang the mesh bag of oyster shells in the ferment, hanging down half way between the bottom and the surface of your ferment.

Pitch your yeast, cover the fermenter, add airlock and insulate.

Monitor and maintain temp for the duration of the ferment. I don’t check anything other than temp until the bubbles stop coming.

My AGs using backset tend to finish near an FG of 10 02

Ferment observations
The ferment was almost black, due to the dark malts added. Smelled wonderfully of the chocolate and crystal malts.

The Belgian ale yeast had a wonderfully fruity nose (as compared to my use of bakers yeast which always seems buttery to me.). I kept temps in the 70s F and this yeast took more time to finish than what bakers yeast in the 80s F typically takes. I feel this fruity smell from the yeast did come through in the finished product.

Processing
Rack off the clear beer and squeeze the remaining liquid from your grains.
I will typically run my strips cloudy, though the first strip usually consists of clear beer that I racked off first. * I like to take my backset from the first strip of clear beer.

Stripping (pot still)
Strip your ferment. Run fast and collect everything down until your getting less than 10% ABV off of the still. (That is 106 F at the head on my pot still).

Running your strip down below 10% collection is done for two reasons. 1) It removes most of the alcohol from the backset you will be collecting. 2) IMHO a lot of the goodness in whiskey comes from tails so I want to collect a lot of it.

Save enough backset from your first stripping run for future batches.

Spirit Run (pot still)
Put your Low Wines in the boiler
Add the mix of feints/backset to the boiler
Pull your foreshots slowly, at a very low power level, to compress them into the first jar.
Do the spirit run at a medium to slow speed to minimize smearing

Cuts
Air your jars for at least two, maybe three days before making cuts. There are a lot of really nice and subtle smells in the transition jars with this recipe, and a few days of airing helps expose some of the more delicate scents.

My heads cut was “normal” for my tastes, which includes some late heads. I detected some really nice grain, fruit, floral, and corn sweetness along with notes from both the chocolate and crystal malts.

For my tails cut I found my standard barrel cut location by taste, then I went one jar deeper into tails. I figured all these rich smells/flavors could handle a little extra tails oil and will improve rich flavors and mouth feel in the finished product.

Polishing/Aging Dark Chocolate Bourbon
I knew I wanted to give this the full toast/char treatment with a heavy char to match the other heavy smells/tastes. I was limited in my aging options so while this is not my preferred method/process it is what I did.

First treatment - two weeks in a new Am Oak 2 liter mini- barrel, toasted and charred. The manufacturer recommends a treatment of 2 to 4 weeks in a new barrel that size. After two weeks the product took on a fair amount of oak and char character, but was still lacking in color and it still smelled of new make.

Second treatment - six months in jars with small sticks. I split this batch into two jars. One contained a toasted Am Oak Stick, the other contained a similar stick plus a small piece of toasted Cherry. The Cherry was only in the jar for 6 weeks before I pulled it.

After 6+ months in the jar I feel they still needed more time. The product needs more time to let the oak chill out a bit and other flavors to develop more. The Chocolate malt and Dark Crystal malt I used are very promonant in the taste of each jar, but not too strong that you loose other tastes. The flavor on these specialty malts sure come through clear, and smells/tastes pleasant. The jar with cherry has a bit of the cherry smell on top, and I feel it tastes a bit smoother than the oak only jar.

I felt more time was needed, and I also wanted a bit more char.

Third treatment - 2+ months in a new Oregon Oak toasted/charred barrel. I wanted to add more char and I had a new toasted and freshly charred one gallon badmo style barrel available. I decided to put both jars back together and into this small barrel.

If you are not familiar with badmo style barrels, You should know that while these are small in volume, they age (time wise) like a much larger traditional 55 g barrel. The surface area to volume ratio makes these barrels actually a bit slower that those big barrels. IMHO, these are perfect for finishing a spirit over time. I can Oak the hell out of a spirit in a short amount of time, then let them age out and mellow in these less aggressive barrels.

After two months in the badmo style barrel, and one year after starting this batch, I thought the product smelled and tasted wonderful and was what I was looking for so I proofed it down for bottling.

Sharing Dark Chocolate Bourbon

This spirit has been a huge hit with my friends, both whiskey lovers and folks who typically don’t drink whiskey but do love dark beers. This has actually been much more popular than almost anything I have made. I need to make more of it.

Observations and Conclusions
For the first 6 months I thought I may have overdone the chocolate malt on this, but that all worked itself out with time and chocolate is much more balanced with the other flavors now. The spirit is a bit drying (not unpleasantly), and I have heard that using a Chocolate Wheat (un-malted) would be less astringent that the malted chocolate wheat. Just a note for those who may want this less dry. I plan to try an un-malted chocolate grain in my next batch

My aging polishing process was not textbook. I used what I had available at the time and hodge-podged this together. I think I was correct in wanting a heavy char profile. That second barrel with a fresh char really did the trick. I would have loved to let this go another year in the badmo, but I am too new to this hobby and don’t have many quality aged products available to share, so I bottled it early anyway. Next year I will be in a better place as far as bottled aged products so I hope I can be more patient with the next batch of this and let it age longer. Yes, I do plan on making more; My friends are demanding it.

Planned changes to my next batch
1. There is nothing I feel I need to change. I’m very happy with what I made.
2. I want to try replacing the Chocolate Malt with an un-malted Chocolate Wheat to see if/how this impacts dryness.
3. Aging this will be done in two stages. The first stage will be in jars with toasted and charred oak sticks, and including a healthy sized piece of toasted cherry. After a short soak in lots of oak, maybe 2 months, I will transfer from jars into a new toasted/charred oak badmo barrel for two years. Not sure yet if it will be Am Oak or Or Oak.

Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by Shiny Coke » Sat Jun 29, 2019 5:24 am

This is a great write up Otis! Can't believe nobody has chimed in on this yet but really appreciate how much thought and time you put into this article to spell out all the steps, why's and hows. :thumbup:
Been mashing HBB for last couple of years and was looking for a new grain bill idea to incorporate malted rye when I stumbled on this. Don't have enough of those specialty grains kicking around in the brew shed at the moment but this is going on my list of things to try!

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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by OtisT » Sun Jun 30, 2019 1:27 pm

Thanks Shiny Coke. I do like to provide details on the process and the whys a lot, and I appreciate you noticing. Probably not a lot of feedback on this thread because the recipe is similar in grain bill to another popular recipe that I based mine on, Christmas Chocolate Bourbon, and mine is a bit much on the process including specific feints and a convoluted wood aging process. :crazy:

I’ve been putting more details in my post and organizing them better, mainly for my own benefit. I used to keep a folder with details on each batch in it (still do) but I found that I would lose some papers, never consolidated my notes, and often I never documented the Whys. So long as HD stays on-line, I don’t have to worry about remembering years later what or why I did something to a batch. :D

Some folks get all bent out of shape when a poster tries to come off an expert, says something is the best way to do it, or adds a redundant or similar recipe. I always try to document in my posts that I’m doing this for my own records, to document my own personal journey. That usually keeps me out of trouble with the know-it-alls. I’m just a relative noob trying to find my way through this wonderful world. :wave:

Otis
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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by MichiganCornhusker » Sun Jun 30, 2019 3:33 pm

I’m glad this has come back up, Otis, I’m going to go on a bourbon quest later this year and will be including this recipe.
I’ll probably also do SCD’s Chocolate Sundae, as well as a recipe from Derek Bell’s “Alt Whiskeys” where he does a hopped barley version based on Old Rasputin Stout. I believe Windy City brought a bottle of that to a fest many years ago and I can still taste it! Another version was done by Brutal, and he used chocolate rye.

These specialty malt recipes are inspiring!
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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by Chauncey » Sun Jun 30, 2019 11:07 pm

OtisT wrote:Thanks Shiny Coke. I do like to provide details on the process and the whys a lot, and I appreciate you noticing. Probably not a lot of feedback on this thread because the recipe is similar in grain bill to another popular recipe that I based mine on, Christmas Chocolate Bourbon, and mine is a bit much on the process including specific feints and a convoluted wood aging process. :crazy:

I’ve been putting more details in my post and organizing them better, mainly for my own benefit. I used to keep a folder with details on each batch in it (still do) but I found that I would lose some papers, never consolidated my notes, and often I never documented the Whys. So long as HD stays on-line, I don’t have to worry about remembering years later what or why I did something to a batch. :D

Some folks get all bent out of shape when a poster tries to come off an expert, says something is the best way to do it, or adds a redundant or similar recipe. I always try to document in my posts that I’m doing this for my own records, to document my own personal journey. That usually keeps me out of trouble with the know-it-alls. I’m just a relative noob trying to find my way through this wonderful world. :wave:

Otis

i might give this one a shot in the fall. rum for now. i noticed it says 106F on your pot still head temp you observed. is this an error?
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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by OtisT » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:02 am

Yes, it is in error. That should have been 206F.
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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by jonnys_spirit » Mon Jul 01, 2019 7:16 am

Chocolate wheated bourbon is on my list also.

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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by VLAGAVULVIN » Thu Jul 04, 2019 3:34 am

OtisT wrote: Mix your feints with an equal amount of backset, add a small bit of copper, then set aside for use in the spirit run later.
:?: Sounds like if I'd pick up the very middle of the stripping run to mix it later with the final cuts of my spirit run. It worked well with my rums, truth to tell... Is it for the same reason?

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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by OtisT » Mon Jul 08, 2019 9:08 am

VLAGAVULVIN wrote:
OtisT wrote: Mix your feints with an equal amount of backset, add a small bit of copper, then set aside for use in the spirit run later.
:?: Sounds like if I'd pick up the very middle of the stripping run to mix it later with the final cuts of my spirit run. It worked well with my rums, truth to tell... Is it for the same reason?
I believe these are two different things.

On other batches/spirits I’ve done what you mentioned above. I have pulled/reserved some hearts from a strip and added that later to my final spirit run cut. I did that because there were some light smells I liked in the heart of my strip that I was sure would be gone after a spirit run.

The reasoning behind my feints/backset mix was for a different purpose. (Just theory). I was hoping to create some new desirable esters by mixing alcohol with long chain fatty acids. I used feints so that I had various alcohols present other than hearts including ethyl acetate (heads), 2-proponyl (tails). The copper was a catalyst for the reaction. Did it work? I don’t know, but it did not hurt as far as I can tell. I can tell the difference when I use any backset in a spirit run charge, and I personally like the difference.

Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by VLAGAVULVIN » Mon Jul 08, 2019 8:34 pm

OtisT wrote:I can tell the difference when I use any backset in a spirit run charge, and I personally like the difference.
Thank you. What types of mashes would you recommend [to make up like that] according to your own taste: rums, bourbons, anything else?

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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by OtisT » Tue Jul 09, 2019 9:46 am

VLAGAVULVIN wrote:
OtisT wrote:I can tell the difference when I use any backset in a spirit run charge, and I personally like the difference.
Thank you. What types of mashes would you recommend [to make up like that] according to your own taste: rums, bourbons, anything else?
You nailed it with those two. I mostly have done this with rums that I want to barrel age. I have done a few well flavored bourbons that I like that way, including this recipe. I don’t do this too often recently because I’m still playing with new recipes, yeasts, and other techniques. Everything is still an experiment for me as I continue to work on what I really like and how I can get there with repeated success. I’m years away from that. Otis
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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by VLAGAVULVIN » Wed Jul 10, 2019 10:47 pm

OtisT wrote:You nailed it with those two.
Gotit,,,
OtisT wrote:I’m years away from that.
I'm beating about there, too 8)

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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by VLAGAVULVIN » Thu Jul 11, 2019 10:57 pm

OtisT wrote: For a whiskey to be put in a barrel, my recycled faints are typically 1 part late heads to 2 parts early tails. I reverse that ratio for rum.
Hi Otis / i've one more "thrilling" point detected, please 8)
Imo, the definite yummies of hard&heavy rums are close to their tails. But you reverse the ratio, taking 2 parts of heads to 1 part of tails, don't you?
According to your nose and mouthfeel or any theory expected?

Never make banana brandy. And never ferment potatoes: better make banana brandy... Oct.20, 2019


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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by fizzix » Fri Jul 12, 2019 2:53 am

Lurking, but have to say this thread is much appreciated, OtisT

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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by OtisT » Fri Jul 12, 2019 8:33 am

VLAGAVULVIN wrote:
OtisT wrote: For a whiskey to be put in a barrel, my recycled faints are typically 1 part late heads to 2 parts early tails. I reverse that ratio for rum.
Hi Otis / i've one more "thrilling" point detected, please 8)
Imo, the definite yummies of hard&heavy rums are close to their tails. But you reverse the ratio, taking 2 parts of heads to 1 part of tails, don't you?
According to your nose and mouthfeel or any theory expected?
This rum talk is off topic, but it’s my thread so here goes. :ewink:

I guess it’s just a preference. I’m enjoying making a lighter rum these days with more of a fruity nose, and less of the hard&heavy. I’m working mainly with panela, ale yeasts, and aging a short time in oak barrels with various fruitwoods for a finish. I’m using less backset, only in the ferment, and I’m making cleaner tails cuts.

Another reason for my using less tails recently is that my last few batches have gone into new oak. I wanted to pull the rum before it took on too much of a whiskey like character and with a lot of tails I would need to age in the barrel longer that I would want.

I have found that my non-stilling friends that I share with also like my lighter rums over the heavy ones, and sharing is a big part of the enjoyment I get from making my own spirits,

This is just the style I’m enjoying now. I’m sure I will come around again and try making some dark rum monsters in the future, collecting and condensing more of those oils. By then, I should have more used barrels to play with too.

Thanks for the interest. As I’ve stated previously, I’m no expert. I’m just having fun trying different things.

Otis
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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by VLAGAVULVIN » Sun Jul 14, 2019 10:26 pm

Otis, thanks again for the detailed answer and sorry for my off-topic jumping here and there in your thread :oops:

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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by tom sawyer » Tue Dec 10, 2019 8:19 am

I'm putting 0.5lb of crystal 135 in my bourbon mash bill. Partly for the same kind of flavor adjustment you are getting with chocolate malt, and partly because I got a free sack of this malt that was already crushed.

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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by pope » Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:43 pm

I didn't catch the FG, you said it's typically 1.002, was wondering if it was any different with that Belgian ale yeast. I know a lot of the high fg in beers comes from enzyme activation choices via mash temp, but if you had any residual sweetness, I'm curious to know if it impacted your flavor at all.
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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by ParrotHead » Thu Jul 23, 2020 11:50 am

Anyone ever try Carafa Special 1 or 2 in place of the chocolate malt? Thinking that de-husked barley might remove some of the long-term aging astringency. ?

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Re: Dark Chocolate Bourbon

Post by OtisT » Thu Jul 23, 2020 4:51 pm

pope wrote:
Thu Jan 09, 2020 2:43 pm
I didn't catch the FG, you said it's typically 1.002, was wondering if it was any different with that Belgian ale yeast. I know a lot of the high fg in beers comes from enzyme activation choices via mash temp, but if you had any residual sweetness, I'm curious to know if it impacted your flavor at all.
Pope, sorry I missed answering this. Just noticed with the recent post. :oops:

I don’t recall this tasting sweet at all. I do taste most of my ferments and don’t think my 10 02 AGs taste sweet. Of course, I rarely get anything lower, so I don’t have experience tasting super dry ferments to compare to. Otis
Otis’ Pot and Thumper, Dimroth Condenser: Pot-n-Thumper/Dimroth
Learning to Toast: Toasting Wood
Polishing Spirits with Fruitwood: Fruitwood
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