While wandering around at the 2012 Kentucky Bourbon Festival, I stumbled upon the Bluegrass Barrels tent. The guys there showed me how easily white dog (moonshine, or corn whiskey before it goes into the barrel to eventually become bourbon) can be aged at home in your own little charred oak barrel. Is that awesome or what??
So, first thing you do is get some white dog. I got mine at the Maker's Mark distillery in Loretto, KY. You can only buy this at the distillery. It's called, "Maker's White" and it's basically moonshine. It's not quite as funny-car-fuel as moonshine, but it's still genuine corn whiskey that has not aged a second in a barrel. I think it's tasty. Other's who've tasted it in my man cave don't agree. More for me.
The tastes kinda reminds me of those delicious corn bread biscuits you find at some restaurants. It's like a liquid version of those with alcohol bite.
You can order your Bluegrass Barrel with your own logo laser-etched onto the barrel head. I ordered mine with an image of the circuit board for my wife's LED mood lamp, except that I changed it up a bit to be more like an advertisement for this blog.
As per the instructions from Bluegrass Barrels, I soaked my barrel. I think I actually left it in the sink for two days. This seals up the barrel nice and tight so the angels don't get too much of a share of your tasty bourbon.
Once it was soaked well enough, it was time to load it up with yummy white dog. I just grabbed a funnel and poured until it was full, trying not to waste a single drop in the process. Some of it was lost to the Andy's Share. Part of the process.
Now sing that 1970s "Anticipation" song from the ketchup commercial over and over again. Sing it for as long as you want your bourbon to age. I let mine sit for about 14 weeks or so.
I sampled the potion every two weeks. To store the samples, I ordered some little glass vials with cork stoppers from Pilot Vials on-line. They were really inexpensive and I got a ton in one box. Here are the samples in order from left to right (2 weeks, 4 weeks, etc.):
You can see the progression from lighter to darker. It was amazing to watch. Sadly, I have little if any patience, so 14 weeks it was. I bought a couple of glass flasks at the Container Store.
The final product was pretty awesome, but just a tad harsh, so I cut the bourbon with just a bit of water to taste.
In hind sight, I would not have done that. It clouded up the bourbon. The taste was totally fine, just a bit cloudy. So, I searched around and found that this could be rectified by "chill filtering" the bourbon. I'm not exactly sure that I did it correctly, but according to what I read, this involves chilling the bourbon to about 27°F and then filtering it. Chilled it in the freezer. Next, I filtered it through coffee filters. It was all I had handy.
This took some of the cloudy out, but it was still not clear brown liquid, like the real brands. But, after I let it sit and warm up, it seemed to clear up for the most part. It turned out to be quite delicious, regardless. Here's a shot glass from a place that I'm sure none of the visitors of the Bourbon Festival know anything about:
Apparently I'm using an AVR/Arduino pinout chart for a coaster in that photo (nerd funny). If you grab some moonshine or white dog from somewhere, I highly recommend you stash some in a Bluegrass Barrel or similar storage device and age some yourself to bourbon perfection. Even if it doesn't turn out to be as top-shelf as your favorite top-shelf, who cares? You aged some yourself and it will feel cool to say you did. You can always pour the not-so-great batches into Jack Daniel's bottles for mixing. ;)