Store bought flavors

Homebrew shop essences talk.

Re: Store bought flavors

Postby Tesla101 » Sun Feb 16, 2020 7:58 pm

5 weeks ago before I joined this forum I didn't have a clue about distilling, other than spending a couple of days with a mate years ago watching him do one run on his T500 and not making cuts. Then flavoring it with store bought essences :o Back then I thought that was the way it was done, who'd have knew any different??

Now even back then I probably even knew more than most of the punters out there who don't really have a clue of what they're drinking. "Another Woodstock mate?"

In the past 6 weeks I have learned a lot. I've learned how to make a very good but affordable wash, how to do a stripping run and then how to do a spirit run and then make cuts. I still have a lot to learn.

I know I don't have the best rig out there, but at least I'm having a crack and learning lots along the way. Even with the rig I have I reckon I still produce a half decent drop, and it's about a quarter of the price of store bought booze.

Yes, I tried one of the store bought essences that came with the kit and without a doubt I won't go and buy the same ones again. I may use some of the premium ones for liqueurs in the future if I feel that way. But right now I'm focusing on just making a really good neutral and learning how to drive the rig I have.

Then when it comes the time to upgrade I know I'll at least have the basics down.
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby southern45 » Thu Feb 20, 2020 5:16 pm

Great to hear! None of the store bought whiskey or rum essences I’ve tried have been up to scratch. Some are passable as a mixer with coke for cheap mates who just want the buzz but that’s about it. The sugary liqueur mixes are okay if that’s your bag. I used a black sambuca one that seemed pretty legit (no turbo wash neutral though of course). Not really my thing but others loved it.

My other half doesn’t mind the Still Spirits Top Shelf Elderflower Gin essence mixed into a quality neutral base. I use about half to three quarters of the recommended amount.
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby Yonder » Fri Feb 21, 2020 5:29 pm

:text-+1: what he said!
If what yer doing is is running a neutral, tpw, or the like then addin an “essence” and drinkin’it. Well, might as well buy grain neutral spirit from the supply and add your flavor. No different, lots cheaper, an not illegal. I ain’t no purist and judge no man but seems to me a straight forward proposition.
I’ve failed a number of times. Wasted weeks here ‘n there on washes that just went South, but I always learnt something. Success means something. Now when i drink myself silly, alone or with friends, I am proud of the product, Don’t never get hung over and never, ever regret the taste. Never could say that about store bought. Sometimes that stuff hurt like bloody hell the next day. No brag, just fact, an no “smilies“ required . Nothin’ but my opinion, thats all.
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby Zak Griffin » Mon Feb 24, 2020 9:19 am

Yonder it certainly isn't cheaper in Australia to buy vodka and flavour it...
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby Yonder » Mon Feb 24, 2020 4:31 pm

Sorry, no offense. Sometimes forget the differences in money, customs, etc. you’d think I would know better having spent 11 years “overseas” with the Army. Here, neutrals like vodka are very cheap (and taste it!). On the other hand the best vodka I ever had was was from Sarapul in the Urals. Damn that was great and cheaper than a coke at a Moscow McD’s. :oops:
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby OldPoss » Mon Feb 24, 2020 6:00 pm

Hi Yonder,

Any alcohol is Aus attracts a large amount of tax. Even the cheapest spirits - vodka, whiskey etc are around $30. That's why its an attractive option to make your own and use essences or age on oak.

I am mainly using a CFW and WBAB and have started with essences but next up will be aging on oak dominoes to see how that goes.

I think essences have their place - maybe to use with oak or when using them for liqueurs like Baileys, Kaluha etc.

OP
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby OldPoss » Tue Apr 21, 2020 3:48 pm

I noticed that Still Spirits have released a new Crafter Cut essence in the Classic Range. It's supposed to be a mimic of Makers Mark.

Has anyone tried this yet? I was using the Classic American Bourbon and oak staves - but was interested to see if this is an improvement for those of us who like Makers.

OP
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby OldPoss » Sat Jun 20, 2020 1:22 pm

Well

I went and bought the Crafters Cut and tried it

2.4l of 40% neutral
SS Bourbon staves for 2 weeks
Remove staves
Add 1x satchet SS Crafters cut
Let sit for minimum 7 days

Didn't like it
Had a faint hint of pepper but no oak flavour. It seemed to remove or mask the bourbon staves oak
Doesnt taste like bourbon. The original SS Classic American Bourbon was much better imho.

Was dissapointed as I was after a heavier oak taste. :handgestures-thumbdown:
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby dans.brew » Sat Jun 20, 2020 5:58 pm

Sorry to hear you were disappointed.
To get more oak flavour you will need to leave it a lot longer than 2 weeks.. 4 wks at a min.
Did you put the stave in at 40% Abv... the norm for aging is 60-65% Abv.
Can really comment on the SS Crafters Cut as i haven't used it.
Last edited by dans.brew on Sat Jun 20, 2020 6:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby OldPoss » Mon Jun 29, 2020 8:59 pm

I have been using the SS Classic American Bourbon with the SS Bourbon staves with good results with 40% ABV. With this it seems to complement the flavour imparted by the oak.

I have put another another down for a week but will it age for another 3, but use the American Bourbon.

Had a second go at the Crafters Cut again on the weekend and it seemed to have gained a sickly sweet honey \ maple flavour. It will be back to the distiller for this batch to recycle.

I was also looking at upgrading my Airstill with a Pure Distilling unit to get a cleaner result. i tend to find that only about 600ml @ 74 - 70% thats good enough to use as hearts. Being a bit more selective means a lot more runs to get a suitable product for this.

OP :sad:
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby dans.brew » Mon Jun 29, 2020 9:28 pm

OldPoss wrote:I was also looking at upgrading my Airstill with a Pure Distilling unit to get a cleaner result. i tend to find that only about 600ml @ 74 - 70% thats good enough to use as hearts. Being a bit more selective means a lot more runs to get a suitable product for this.

OP :sad:

My understanding is that the airstill is effectively a pot still so not much good for a squeeky clean neutral. The Pure Distilling Still is a reflux still so it tears out all that unwanted flavour and will give you the clean neutral your after.
If your on a budget they go alright... i started with one, but soon outgrew it. :handgestures-thumbupleft:
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby southern45 » Tue Jun 30, 2020 3:12 pm

OldPoss wrote:I was also looking at upgrading my Airstill with a Pure Distilling unit to get a cleaner result. i tend to find that only about 600ml @ 74 - 70% thats good enough to use as hearts. Being a bit more selective means a lot more runs to get a suitable product for this.

OP :sad:


I've had both. I liked the Pure Distilling unit, it's super easy to use and a MASSIVE upgrade over the AirStill (if neutrals are your thing). See if you can buy it without all the plastic filtering buckets and other assorted crap they try and bundle with it to drive the price up.
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby OldPoss » Mon Jul 06, 2020 9:14 pm

Have been doing some research and decided on the Pure Distilling unit, it seemed to be the best of the entry level home reflux stills. As you said, the problem is getting just the condenser and boiler, all the other stuff I dont need.
Hasn't been too much on offer during Covid, maybe a good reason for people to start. :D

But I wanted to produce both a high quality neutral for gin, etc and a pot still for whiskey and rum.

OP
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby B-Man » Sat Mar 13, 2021 11:18 pm

I got a T500 + pot and a heap of essences to start with.
found this forum before I ran anything and promptly sold off the turbo crap. never ran one never will.
I mainly ran some wine into moonshine brandy and done a few neutral runs.
I essenced a fair few bottles and when I tasted them I thought they were lacking. Wasn't sure if it was just my alcohol or the flavouring.
they sat in the back of the cupboard for 6 months and then got one out as I ran out of my brandy and was actually a little surprised how much better it tasted.

Upgraded my kit to a 4" keg bubbler and slowly using up all my essences and letting them sit in the cupboard for 6+ months.
After I had spent a few months reading up on here I wasn't going to use essences again and just make everything through a flavoured mash. :scared-eek: but after tasting some of the aged (non oaked) essences and thinking they had greatly improved it hit me. Why not use an essence for some stuff.... I drink with a mixer so that always helps it taste smoother too. Favourite so far is the SS Dark rum.
I'm planning to make 4 or so main flavoured mashes but then essences to fill the blanks. Done a TFFV and macRUM, got a CFW on the go. Will slowly go through the tried and proven ones and pick my favourites.
Just picked up a few Edwards essences aswell. Australian made is always a plus. will have to put a few of them down and see what they are like. As with the flavoured mashes ill only run a few favourites essences aswell but will need to try them all first.

anyone recommend some of their favourite essences from Still Spirits or Edwards?
Last edited by B-Man on Sat Mar 13, 2021 11:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby Amberale » Sun Mar 14, 2021 6:35 am

My two main tipples are the Edwards Sapphire Blue Gin as G&Ts and the SS Shamrock Whisky.
I love Jameson and the SS is the closest thing I have tried.

There is thread somewhere here about trying to do an AG Jameson knock off and it seems to be nigh on impossible.
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby OldPoss » Sat Mar 20, 2021 7:48 pm

My favourites are SS classic american bourbon with staves and aged for 3 - 6 months :cool:
The top shelf rye whisky is also not too bad.
I have on tried the Top Shelf London Dry - which is ok but was looking for another option which may be better.
The dark and Jamaican Rums taste very bubblegum like even after aging in oak :teasing-neener:
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby FatManDancing » Thu Apr 01, 2021 8:58 pm

I promised a mate a bottle of amaretto knowing I could use a store bought flavouring, I just needed to get the base spirit right

It took multiple distillations of FFV to turn that sugar head into something smooth, even at 90+ % That I thought he would enjoy

I mixed in an unwashed triple sec bottle, proofing down to 42 % and added an entire bottle of amaretto flavour and only half of the liqueur base suggested and made only 700 ml

We tried alongside a commercial amaretto at 20 % and while the commercial had a bigger hit at the front end of almond that they liked that is all it had. The alcohol took over and had a harshness that neither liked too much

Mine had a much more subdued almond flavour, it would be great if it was more present but it is not. After the sweetness it did round out to toffee, caramel and black coffee flavours

My mate and his partner are not big drinkers. They like a dram of liqueur after a meal on occasion and maybe a bottle of wine every second week when they want to get rowdy but I am determined to make drunkards of them yet

I liked the commercial amaretto for its upfront flavour. In the end though we all agreed mine was better. While it was lacking that punch at the front, it did have more going for it as the flavour profile evolved across the palate


Who am I kidding, They want to get drunk but they just do not know how. They hate the taste of alcohol and want something they can chug. Happily I can make something that suits their tastes

Yes, I am freaken proud of myself. Thanks to all here ^:)^ ^:)^ ^:)^


I also promised him a bottle of schnapps
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby Wellsy » Fri Apr 02, 2021 6:45 am

Nice work fatman
Don’t forget the flavours may well develop more over time, keep experimenting and you will not need the store bought flavour as you will have made your own small batch from herbs and spices and macerated almonds :)
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby OldPoss » Fri Apr 02, 2021 7:52 am

I had poor feedback on the Samuel Willards Irish Cream premix. I did have it at a higher alcohol % - 30
Was too harsh and didnt taste the same. Maybe the expectations were too high.

Was looking at a Butterscotch schnapps version, has anyone have a preference and did you have it at > 20%
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Re: Store bought flavors

Postby RC Al » Sat Apr 03, 2021 10:55 am

Have a look at the coffee syrup shots available, 700ml bottle was $15 last i looked at the local bulk foods wholesaler
YMMV by brand
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