Last night, we conducted our initial test of last week's ginger infused vodka experiment, as well as secondary and tertiary tests of our watermelon, blueberry, and almond vodkae.
I was looking forward to the ginger vodka, having received several favorable comments about other people's ginger infusions both on and off this site. I'm a fan of ginger in general, and it seemed to me that, unlike rosemary, it was likely to mingle well with the kick of vodka. So you can imagine my surprise when I tipped back my shot, and it tasted.... not right. There was no spice, and the flavor was way off, though I couldn't quite put my finger on how. I blinked a few times and tasted a little bit more, but it was no more enlightening than the first taste. How could this infusion have gone so wrong? What did we do? Was grating the ginger root the wrong approach? I began discussing my thoughts with Wayland.
"Dude," he said to me, "that was the almond vodka."
I stared blankly for a few beats.
"Oh. ...Well, in that case, it's pretty good."
Wayland took his sample, and we agreed (now that I knew what taste I was looking for) that the vodka tastes very much like almonds. It's very smooth, with almost no vodka burn. The almond vodka was finally a success, after 39 days of infusion - a new record, just beating coconut's 35 days. We bottled it, using a doubled-up layer of cheesecloth to catch some of the dust.
After this debacle, I had to try the real ginger vodka next. Though we expected to reduce the infusion time by grating the ginger rather than slicing it, four days was not nearly enough. The vodka had attained some of the spice of the ginger, but almost none of the flavor. The vodka taste was mostly neutralized, however.
"It has a very slight ginger flavor on the back end," Wayland said, "but there's really not much there yet."
The watermelon vodka was on Day 13 for our second tasting. The flavor has progressed since the previous sample, but I still didn't find it to be a very strong flavor. There was also a significant amount of vodka taste, but it's not harsh.
"It's definitely got a melon flavor, but it's not distinctive as watermelon," Wayland commented. "Fairly smooth, but with a slight burn." He added that he didn't expect to get much more flavor out of it, but I am still optimistic.
The blueberry vodka, likewise, has attained more flavor than last week, but not very much. I found the blueberry taste to be overwhelmed by the vodka, with a very slow-acting vodka burn.
Wayland, on the other hand, tasted almost no vodka flavor. "It's definitely fruity, with a slight tang of sourness. I'm not big on it, but the true test is in the cocktail." Wayland felt that it might be ready for bottling, but I wanted to give it a little longer.
But wait, there's more! While digging through our science fridge, we discovered an ancient treasure: our grape vodka. As you may recall, this vodka was declared a flop in its final test, not actually bad, but with very little flavor attained. We intended to bottle it and keep it as a backup to our non-infused vodka. However, we completely forgot about it, and left the jar of vodka and grapes in the back of a refrigerator shelf.
When we ended the experiment, the infusion had run 26 days, one of our longer infusions, though not quite in the league of almond or coconut. When we pulled it out yesterday, however, the infusion was a mind-boggling 75 days old. That's one-fifth of a year.
We should have poured it straight down the drain and never looked back, but if we did that, we would be failing our reputations as Mad Scienticians. We knew we had no choice but to taste it. This decision may have been influenced slightly by the previous four shots of vodka per man. "I can't believe we're drinking this," Wayland said. "Of course, it was my idea."
We poured two shots and drank. Wayland rather enjoyed it, describing it as "a sweet white wine flavor, like a Riesling."
What I tasted, however, was not so pleasant. It was bad, but it was an odd kind of bad, not horrifying at all. It was as if the flavor approached me, creeping up along a darkened path, with claws drawn and fangs dripping, then shouted "boo!" in an effeminate voice and skipped away.
We decided to bottle it. We're not sure what we'll end up doing with it, but we definitely want to get a third opinion before consigning it to its destiny.