When you get ready to start making your own whiskey/bourbon flavored liquor (bootlegging) you need several different ingredients. First is the alcohol. Generally if you can use an unflavored or neutral flavored alcohol that will make it easier for you to get the flavor the way you want it. We normally recommend an unflavored vodka but you may find other types of unflavored alcohol like Everclear but that would be a seriously high alcohol content.
The second “ingredient” would be the charred oak barrel. As you know bourbon, whiskey and many other liquors spend some time in an oak barrel and it will gain some of the flavors from the oak such as vanillins and tannins. The oak has a way of filtering the liquor through its pores and smoothing out the liquor. If you just add vodka to a barrel and nothing else then you are basically going to have a barrel flavored alcohol. You may or may not like that but you certainly could try it.
The third “ingredient” is the flavoring also known as whiskey or bourbon essence. Our chemists have gone through years of painstaking trial and error to recreate the tastes of some of the world’s best liquors like Canadian, Irish and other whiskies. Also Tennessee and Kentucky bourbons, blended and malt scotches, several rums and several brandy flavors. If you have a favorite “off the shelf” liquor then you can just purchase the essence of that flavor from us and add it to your alcohol and our barrel and recreate your own version of your favorite liquor.
You can also add your own personal twist to that drink by adding other flavor enhancers such as added vanilla or oak flavors. I also like to age my bootleg liquor in a barrel that was used to age or has been cured with another liquor. For example I recently aged some Tennessee Bourbon in a barrel that was used to age Moonshine. When you pour out or finish drinking all the liquor in the barrel you will always have the flavors remaining soaked in to the staves of the barrel and it will influence your next batch. My new creation was a tasty batch of bourbon with a hint of moonshine. Very delicious. Have some fun with it and let me know what you come up with. It’s like playing with your own recipes behind the bar.
You are not limited to just bootlegging in the barrel either. You can take an “off the shelf” liquor from your local store and age it in your barrel to smooth out the flavor and increase the age. You can also make your own barrel cocktails too. Age your own Manhattan at home in your own barrel right to your tastes. I recently aged some Bacardi Silver Rum in a barrel that was used to age a Manhattan. Another favorite was when I aged Crown Black in a barrel that was used to age an Irish Potcheen Moonshine. Delicious! Have fun and be sure to let me know what you find that you like because I am always looking to try something new.