Alcohol infusions have been my obsession for the better part of this year. I would like to share what worked and what I have learned since I started.

First, the two sites that I used to start the journey are Northwest Edible Life and Boozed + Infused. NW Edible was more of a general guide into the world of infusions while the latter is for recipes, plus her taste for bourbon aligns with my taste.

Infusions made:
Apple Pie Bourbon
Coffee Bourbon
Dried Cherry Bourbon
Coconut Rum
Pineapple Rum
Ginger-Lime Gin
Star Anise Gin

I like longer infusion times, about 3 to 4 weeks. Some sites state that a few days to a week is enough but I like to maximize the flavor. My reasoning is simple, any less, I would rather just take the spirit straight if the flavor is weak.

For spirits, I use Colonel Lee bourbon from Total Wine (Jim Beam, if not available), Gordon’s gin, and Bacardi white rum.

For filtering, I use a funnel and coffee filters; I like to use two layers of coffee filters, but I am sure one is just fine. For juicy fruits, like pineapple and coconut, I use cheesecloth to squeeze out the extra juices before filtering through coffee filters.

Store your infusions in a cool and dark place. Give them a quick shake daily. My first four projects were not in a dark place, which may had affected the flavors.

The Good:

Dried Cherry Bourbon

3 c bourbon
5 oz Mariani Cherries
Two weeks

This turned out delicious, strong cherry flavor, even though it was a bit too sweet for me. Very easy to drink; went through the bottle in a flash. I mostly took this straight.

I would lower the amount of cherries to bourbon next time. 3 oz cherries to 3 cups bourbon, perhaps, but I worry about the cherry flavor diminishing. Try with 5 oz cherries before making adjustments. Best part is that this infusion only takes two weeks.

As a side note, three cups is about 710 mL, which fits in an empty 750 mL laying around.

Ginger-lime Gin

4 c gin
zest of 2 lime
4 TB fresh ginger
2 TB blue agave syrup (add at 3rd week)
4 weeks

This infusion was really good. The spicy ginger and citrus notes of the lime zest work well with the herbal essences of the gin, while the agave syrup lightens up the sharpness of the gin; creating an aromatic and tasty infusion.

Not sure I would change recipe. If anything, I might reduce the syrup just a tad to let the gin shine a bit more, but that’s just me.

Great by itself. Making gin and tonic with this destroyed the flavors. I’m sure this would work great in a cocktail but I like this as is.

img_20160707_140703a

Pineapple & Coconut Rum at 3 weeks.

Coconut Rum

750 ml white rum (or vodka)
1 brown coconut
3 TB thick simple syrup (add at 3rd week)
4 weeks

I happen to love coconuts. The richness of the coconut mellows out the rum to create a light and smooth drink; not too sweet, either. I wish the coconut flavor was stronger, however.

I used real coconuts. Removing the coconut meat is not too bad after some practice – watch your fingers. Shred them in a blender into small chunks. The oils will be filter out with coffee filters so do not worry about them.

I made this three times. I tried one batch with a cheap generic brand – Prestige – as a test, which turned out decent but had a rougher aftertaste. I might try roasting the coconut or look into adding fresh coconut juice as the sweetener to get a more prominent coconut flavor. I want to stick with fresh coconuts.

Thick simple syrup is made using equal parts of water and sugar. Evaporation will lower the water ratio.

The Bad:

Star Anise Gin
40 gram star anise, 2 cups of gin, and 1 tablespoon of simple syrup.

The star anise was too intense to enjoy, even with tonic. The intense flavor has a drying effect on my mouth.

I infused this for 3 days. If I ever attempt this again, I’ll probably do it for a day or so. The aroma of star anise gives to gin was lovely, however.

Other mentions:

img_20160515_161907a

Apple Pie Bourbon at 4 weeks

Apple Pie Bourbon
750 ml bourbon, 3 granny smiths, cinnamon stick, and ½ vanilla bean. 4 weeks.

I have to try this infusion again. The first attempt was not impressive, which also happens to be my very first infusion project.

From what I can recall, there was a lingering bitter aftertaste that I could not pinpoint. This was not bad but the “apple pie” taste I was looking for did not really come through. I did use the apples to make apple turnovers. Makes an interesting old fashioned, though.

For the next batch, I would cut the apples into smaller chunks. Perhaps, use different apples like honeycrisp or jonagold apples.

Pineapple Rum
Simple one. One pineapple and enough rum to cover. 3 weeks.

This turned out to be quite nice; light and smooth with a wonderful pineapple aroma. The flavor was a bit stronger than coconut rum, which is a plus.

However, the batch had a slight bitter aftertaste. Obtaining a really ripe pineapple or adding some sweetener – 1 tablespoon of thick simple syrup – might solve the bitterness. I did not add any sweetener, figuring the pineapple will provide the sweetness.

I used this with the coconut rum to make my own pina colada, which was only okay because both flavors were not strong enough. I might add in mint leaves the next time I make this.

Final Thoughts
Hope this helps those looking to infuse their own spirits. After a few, you will know what you’re looking for in an infusion but do not be afraid to try something different. I found that I like infusions where I can sip it because I do not like the fuss of making an cocktail. You, on the other hand, might infuse for the sole purpose of cocktails. Whatever the reasons, have fun. Cheers.