Our most recent vodka sampling session showed the success of two of our ongoing infusion experiments. You might even say that we declared our independence from ongoing infusions, because other than the Big Experiment, there is nothing else running (until we begin this week's experiment). We're not going to know what to do with ourselves, not having three or four vodkae to sample each week.... fortunately, the four-way apple comparison will easily make up for it.
We were in a hurry to sample the honey vodka, so we tasted it first. It could have possibly been "complete" almost immediately after the experiment, since very little separation occurred after the initial shaking. We gave it a final shake just to be sure, poured two shots and sipped them gently.
I felt that the vodka "was very sweet, with no burn at all. There is a nanosecond of vodka taste on the back end, but it vanishes almost before it registers. This might be better than Bärenjäger. It probably would have worked with a bit less honey, but I like it fine as it is."
Wayland made similar observations, writing that it was "very sweet, very smooth. Possibly a little sweeter than Bärenjäger. It tastes just like honey, albeit watered down. There's really no hint of vodka to this. It could be dangerous."
It should be noted that by using the amount of honey that we did (12 ounces mixed with 750 mL of vodka), we reduced the alcohol content of the vodka significantly. A fifth of vodka is about 25.36 ounces, so some quick calculation reveals that our formerly 80 proof vodka has been watered down to a mere 54.3 proof, or about 27% alcohol. (In comparison, Bärenjäger is 35% alcohol.) Depending on your goals, this could be a good or bad result; in this state, the honey vodka will make an excellent mixer or cordial. However, if you prefer a little more potency, we believe that this would still taste wonderful with a somewhat reduced honey content.
In fact, the amount of honey led to another effect that we should have forseen: the process yielded well over a fifth of honey vodka, and it wouldn't all fit in the bottle, even after sampling two shots (and spilling some onto the science counter when the bottle got full). Fortunately, we had an extra 5 ounce sample bottle to store the remainder. Now, what shall we do with it?
The success of the honey vodka had us in high spirits (no pun intended) as we moved on to sample the ginger vodka for the third time. There was no significant change in its appearance from the previous sampling. At this point, the infusion had been running for 31 days.
Wayland took the first sample, and wrote, "Now that brings back childhood memories of Pepperidge Farm gingerbread cookies, although this is less sweet. It is incredibly smooth. There's no hint of vodka burn at all."
Let's ignore the disturbing fact that Wayland's childhood memories can be inspired by hard liquor and move on.
I noted that "the spice, after toning down before the previous tasting, seems to have surpassed its original bite, and the flavor has intensified with it. It's reached a good balance that takes you pleasantly by surprise. The back end has a vodka flavor component, not as brief as with the honey vodka, but light enough that it blends with the ginger taste and bite and becomes a part of it."
Both vodkae were bottled, leaving only the Big Experiment, which we intend to bring to a close in the next 24 hours. With luck, we will have time to post our results tomorrow during the holiday. For all you Americans out there, we at the Infusions lab hope you enjoy your Independence Day (and we forgive you if you relax with a brew, rather than a martini - I plan to have one or two myself). For the rest of you, have a great Wednesday.