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Turning Vodka Into Whisky – The Vodsky

by Oliver Klimek on July 1, 2011

After five months of bottle maturation, the Vodsky Experiment has finally come to an end. Ordinary vodka was matured in its original bottle with the aid of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey cask wood chips. From time to time, the bottle was opened to allow air exchange.

The intermediate results from late March were rather promising. The all-exciting question now is, if the positive development has continued or if the effect was mostly due to the whiskey that was trapped inside the wood chips. Time to open the bottle now and check how the fully matured Vodsky compares to the March sample.

Tasting Notes from 28th March:

Colour: Bright gold
Nose: Still rather grainy with hints of lemon zest and vanilla.
Palate: Vanilla, honey, hints of lemon and cinnamon.
Finish: Medium long and slightly sweet.
Overall: The spirit has clearly taken on some bourbon characteristics. It is still quite mild, but it’s a lot more flavoursome than the original vodka. Actually it tastes pretty decent, worthy of a 70+ score. You could already sneak it into a blind tasting and it would probably be guessed to be a mild NAS blend.

Tasting notes from 1st July:

Colour: Dark gold
Nose: Not all of the grain is gone, but vanilla is now joined by notes of caramel and cinnamon, just traces of citrus fruit.
Palate: Vanilla, honey, lemon zest, cinnamon, noticeable tannins, pepper and a little chili.
Finish: Medium long, dry and slightly sweet.
Overall: The wood influence is quite obvious now, the driness and spiciness on the palate are more than I expected. This is definitely no vodka anymore. But is it whisky?

I have to say that I preferred the intermediate sample over the final vodsky. There is certainly more aroma in the aged version, but the wood is already a quite strong. A suggestion for another experiment might be to use more wood chips, but toast some of them in the oven before putting them into the bottle. Then make maturation time a bit shorter, and the result should have a better balance.

The vodsky shows two things:

  1. Whisky and vodka are more similar to each other than you may think.
  2. Maturation should not be rushed. Attempts to speed up things are not very likely to lead to high quality results.

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