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Turning Vodka Into Whisky – The Vodsky — Dramming
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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.

{ 7 comments… read them below or add one }

magnus July 1, 2011 at 6:17 pm

Fun to see that there is more crazy ppl out there 🙂 i do the same but with new make from laphroaig.
page in swedish but google translate exist 🙂

havent tasted it in a while.. takes a bit longer i guess since i use new make instead of vodka.


Oliver Klimek July 1, 2011 at 6:24 pm

Nice idea! But vodka is essentially the same as newmake, just with less aromatics. If at all, vodka should take longer to mature. But I don’t really think there is a difference.


Magnus July 1, 2011 at 7:30 pm

Well it depends on the vodka i guess since you can make vodka of grains, potatoes, or molasses.
But i think we have to wait the same time as I since u have a spirit with less aromatics, and i have a really raw spirit that need more times in “the bottle cask” too become drinkable ;). I say we wait 12 months or so we then we send each other a sample 🙂


bsod August 5, 2011 at 11:14 pm

this looks like alot of fun.
so, basically there are many types of whiskey (espically in the americas) but what they all have in common is that they are made from grain (beer) and contain impurities from the grain (intentionally) and are aged in white oak for a minimum of 3 years for additional flavor.
and you guys already know this stuff, brandy is made from wine, rum is made from sugar water, tequila is from agave, ect..
vodka can be made from anything (grains, potatoes, wine, sugar, are all used), a good vodka is just ethanol and water filtered to remove any impurities.

so i noticed from the picture that it looks like absolut vodka, which is one of the purest/lightest tasting vodkas on the market. and my idea, is maybe use a cheap vodka that isnt filtered so well. preferably one made from grain. many local areas have small brands that are just that, but if yours doesnt maybe try a vodka that has some added character atleast, like stolichnaya is made from wheat and has a distinct flavor left from being filtered through charcoal made from birch wood.


bsod August 5, 2011 at 11:18 pm

and if it doesnt taste so good in the end, they do sell charcoal kits that ‘home stillers’ can buy which are safe to use on high alcohol products, (dont use a brita filter it seeps chemicals in ethanol)


Oliver Klimek August 6, 2011 at 7:10 am

Thanks for the comment. Regarding my choice of vodka, my personal vodka experience is next to nothinng. I just wanted to avoid the really cheap stuff but did not want to use a luxury vodka either, so I went for the solid middle grounds. Yes it’s Absolut, and it says on the bottle that it is made from grain. To the best of my knowledge just about any major branded vodka is made from grain. If you know vodkas that are not made from grain please let me know their names. Unrelated to this experiment, I am really interested in the difference in tase resulting from different raw materials.


bsod August 7, 2011 at 11:08 am

some of these listed are not grain http://www.slate.com/id/2106004/ <also that research looked like alot of fun


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