I am so excited to present you the lastest experiment of the Dramming Research Kitchen: The spirit-ual equivalent of turning water into wine.
Most of you will know that whisky and vodka are pretty closely related – if you neglect some obscure vodka varieties made from potatoes and other stuff. Both are made from a grain mash, and in fact it’s not easy to draw a definite line between the two spirits. Whenever you think you have found a unique characteristic of one of the two, you will soon find a counterexample. Much of this mess is also due to historic reasons as the distillation of grain spirit has developed indepentently in a variety of regions.
- Distillation method: Vodka is commonly made in column stills but there are pot still vodkas too. Whiskey is distilled in either types as well.
- Filtration: Vodka is usually filtered, sometimes excessively. But there are also filtered whiskies, like Jack Daniel’s.
- Number of distillations: Usually whisky is distilled two or three times, the Bruichladdich X4 is distilled four times. There is quite a variation in vodka too.
- Cask aging: There a few oak aged vodkas, as well as there are unaged whiskies (poteen, white dog, newmake etc.)
I’ll leave it to you to sort out the nitty gritty of it, but it should have become obvious that whisky and vodka are basically two flip sides of the same medal. But for everday purpose you could define vodka as unaged purified spirit and whisky as cask aged and un-purified.
If the two are so closely related, why not try to transform one into the other in an alchemistic experiment?
- One bottle of decent vodka (I chose Absolut)
- A small handful of Jack Daniel’s Barbeque Wood Smoking Chips
Open the bottle and pour yourself a dram to make room for the wood chips. If you wish, you can write down a tasting note for future reference:
Nose: Weak, grain with faint hints of lemon zest and raspberries.
Palate: Mild, slightly sweet, hints of nuts and mixed fruit.
Overall: The unaltered vodka cannot deny its relationship with whisky. It tastes like a very subdued version of single malt newmake.
Put the chips into the bottle. If necessary, break them to make them fit through the neck. Close the bottle and wait for an indefinite amount of time, occasionally turning it upside-down to mix it up.
Originally, I had intended to toast the chips in the oven prior to use, but I noticed quite a bit of char on the chips, so I just used them as they were. They smell nicely of whiskey, so this will simulate a bourbonTennesse cask maturation.
The experiment has started today. I have Absolut-ely not idea how long it will take or if the result will even be remotely enjoyable. But that’s what’s experiments are for, after all.
The vodsky has already taken a bit of colour, most probably from the whisky soaked into the chips. Bubbles have collected at the top, this is air that was driven out of the wood pores.