How to Infuse Bourbon: Quick & Easy

standard May 4, 2017 Leave a response
How to Infuse Bourbon

Some of the best cocktails are a simple twist on an old favorite, so in this post I’m going to show you how to infuse bourbon the quick and easy way.

Flavored whiskey has become incredibly popular and you can create unique cocktails at home with simple, fresh ingredients. Not only will the end-result surpass the commercially available options, but you’ll have great story too.

This primer is designed to keep it simple, so let’s get started.

Buy Some Good Bourbon

Quality ingredients are always important, so buy some good bourbon for your infusion. Generally, it doesn’t need to be expensive (> $30), but you should probably avoid anything that comes in a plastic bottle.

A few affordable & widely available bourbon options include:

  • Jim Beam ≈ $30
  • Wild Turkey ≈ $ 22
  • Old Grand Dad 100 ≈ $25
  • Evan Williams ≈ $16
  • Elijah Craig ≈ $26

For our homemade whiskey infusion, we went with Buffalo Trace bourbon (≈ $26)

Use Good Bourbon

Select a Flavoring Agent

Finding a flavor for your bourbon infusion shouldn’t be difficult, but here are a few guidelines:

  • Taste the Bourbon First – Select a Flavor That’ll Stand Up to It
  • Typical Infusions Use Fruit, Herb, Nut and/or Spice Flavors
  • KISS – Keep It Simple, Stupid: Pick Something Easy to Prepare and Remove from the Liquor

We were looking to experiment, so we selected different flavors to create three separate infusions: apple, fresh vanilla bean and coffee.

Find a Container

You’ll need a container in which to infuse your bourbon, so look around the house to see what’s available. Ideally it should have a wide mouth so that you can easily add and remove ingredients. Just remember you’ll need to have enough capacity:
  • 750 ml = 25.36 oz.
  • 1 liter = 33.8 oz.

You can get away with a covered bowl or even repurposed jars, but we decided to use some miscellaneous Mason Jars lying around the house. They’re inexpensive, easy to use and reasonably attractive – as opposed to an old salsa jar.

Mason Jar for Infusing Bourbon

Prepare the Infusion

Once the spirit has been added to the selected container(s), the infusion ingredients must be prepared. The quantity to be used can depend on the capacity of the container as well as the surface area of the ingredients. Generally, the greater the surface area, the faster the flavor transfer. For our bourbon infusion we experimented with three different flavors and prepared the following:
  • ½ Apple, Sliced (Medium, Granny Smith)
  • 1 Fresh Vanilla Bean (Sliced)
  • 1/3 C. Coffee Beans (La Colombe Corsica, Dark Roast)

After preparation, we combined each ingredient with approximately 8.5 Oz. Buffalo Trace Bourbon in a Mason Jar and gave it a good shake. Afterwards we set the jars aside to stew a while.

Bourbon Infusion Flavors

Wait & Taste

Truthfully we didn’t know how long it would take for our bourbon infusion to generate significant flavor, so we decided to test taste each jar daily. Using a straw we extracted just a drop to evaluate the progress. Our goal was the creation of a distinct flavor without it being overpowering. Here were our results:

 Day # 1Day # 3Day # 7
AppleLight FlavorPerfectN/A
CoffeeSignificant FlavorStrong, But PerfectN/A
VanillaLight FlavorLight FlavorPerfect

For this experiment we were infusing a small amount of spirits so your experience may differ based on the bourbon, the ingredients’ flavor profile, preparation and size of the container.

Bottle Your Bourbon Infusion

Once the flavor was just right, it was time to bottle the results. Using everything we learned in How to Bottle Cocktails, we strained the infusion through a fine mesh strainer into some flip top bottles and we were ready for cocktail hour.

Although we intend on using our homemade whiskey infusion in cocktails, this would be an excellent gift idea. Simply put your bourbon infusion into an attractive container with an interesting lable and you’ve instantly made a unique gift that will far surpass the traditional $10 bottle of wine in a brown paper bag.

Here are a few items you may find useful whether bottling your infusion for yourself or as gifts:

Ball Mason Jars

Plain and simple, Mason Jars are a great way to infuse spirits of all types. You can probably find them at your local market or hardware store. If you want to keep it inexpensive, simply reuse a couple standard food jars.
16 oz. Mason Jars

Flip-Top Bottles

Once you’ve infused your bourbon, put it into a few containers that give it the respect that it deserves. It’s tough to argue with easy-to-use, portable flip-top bottles. These are contain 16 ounces which realistically hold about 5 cocktails. 
Flip-Top Bottles

Paper Bottle Tags

Once you bottle your infusion, lable it with these tags. You’d be surprised at how easily it is to forget all the details surrounding your infusion.
Paper Bottle Tags

Conclusion

Overall this experiment was tremendously successful and easy. Hopefully we’ve simply answered the question on How to Infuse Bourbon? And we hope that you’ll jump in to create some new interesting flavors for your own home bar.

About

Suburban adventurer, beer lover and Cocktail Novice, Bill has a variety of interests including cooking, blogging and "bad" surfing. If you're keen to connect, give him a shout on Twitter.