Monday, June 4, 2007

More vodka tastings

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.


Anonymous said...

"Dude," he said to me, "that was the almond vodka."

"Oh. ...Well, in that case, it's pretty good."


You guys are crazy. I love it.

Anonymous said...

I know that the flavor of ginger comes largely from an oil, which is immiscible in water. Would it violate the purity of your method to add some emulsifier?

Anonymous said...

the ginger infusion that I did took an entire month... (commented before about skin & earthy flavour at

Nicole said...

You put your infusions in the 'fridge? I just keep mine on a dark shelf in a cabinet. The alcohol is a preservative. No worries. I bet it might intensify your inusions flavors as well. I add sugar to mine to make cordials.

Brendan said...

Dan: I don't know! What additive do you have in mind? It may be worth a try.

N: We refrigerate our fruit-, veggie-, and herb-based infusions. Others, like the almond and ginger vodkae, is kept in a cupboard.

Anonymous said...

There are a couple options: egg yolk, mustard powder, or lecithin. Not a great selection, but they would definitely make the infusion work better.

Brendan said...

Hmm. I can't say I'm excited about the prospect of egg yolk vodka. The infusion seems to be going well on its own, but we will keep emulsification in mind in case of disaster.

AstroSphinx said...

Hello, I just found your page looking for recipes for something to do with my homemade Ginger root vodka (Absolute). I am certain my infusion is very strong as it has been sitting around in fresh ginger root, also shreaded finely, and then for added kick, powdered ginger root. After a few weeks I filtered it out with a coffee filter and put it in a new clean jar- it has a very reddish colour to it, much more red than my own chilli vodka experiement, which I think is strange.

It does have a nice taste but still I'm not really a fan of vodka but it tastes much less vodka-like.. but it needs something! Please alert me when you come up for some recipes for it! I don't really know what to do with it.

Thanks again for publishing your experiments!


Elle Woods said...

Hi! Found your site while searching on some ideas on how to infuse white chocolate vodka. Anyway, I'm a big vodka infuser and my ginger vodka has turned out very well. I minced my fresh ginger and pop it into a mason jar. I make alcoholic ginger ale with that ginger vodka...ginger vodka + seltzer/soda water = a not too sweet ginger ale. Add a splash of cranberry juice and it's cranberry ginger ale. In other infusing thoughts, strawberry vodka has turned out *extremely* well. Anyway, keep up the good work! I'll be looking forward to your other concotions.

Oliver Davidson said...

Guys, I have found that after a week or two of infusing the ginger, add either some mango or jalapeƱo or both add a nice sweetness and spicy kick respectively. Then take this infusion after another week to two period and filter, then shake with a frozen mango puree (expensive but great) for a spicy ginger mango cocktail!

Brendan said...

That sounds mighty tasty! We'll have to give it a try sometime.