• Welcome to the eG Forums, a service of the eGullet Society for Culinary Arts & Letters. The Society is a 501(c)3 not-for-profit organization dedicated to the advancement of the culinary arts. These advertising-free forums are provided free of charge through donations from Society members. Anyone may read the forums, but to post you must create an account.

Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
Chris Amirault

Nut Infusions for Bourbon, Etc.

21 posts in this topic

Ever since I read this post by donbert I've been mesmerized by the thought of pecan-infused bourbon. I took a crack at it recently but the results were mediocre: the pecans were under-roasted and I tossed in a vanilla bean that took over.

I've smoked some pecans recently to give this another go, but I'm wondering if anyone has experience with nut infusions in general. The bourbon turned out very louche-y, not exactly the clarity I'd want to showcase this elixir in a Manhattan or Old Fashioned. I'm about to give it a try again: any ideas?


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wonder if a toasted nut oil and using the fat wash method (a la the Benton's bourbon) might work? It seems that leaving the fat in the booze would cause that louching or separation. :shrug: I dunno. Just sayin' is all...

Perhaps making a toasted nut flavored tincture with a higher proof of alcohol and using it judiciously would be another alternate approach?

I do love the sound of pecan infused bourbon...:smile:


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Brian had a drink on the Pegu Club menu called the Holy Roller that was made with pecan-infused bourbon. My impression was that it was very difficult to get sufficient pecan flavor without also infusing significant tannins into the bourbon. The Holy Roller was interesting, but definitely had an astringent quality from the tannins.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Most of the tannins in nuts are in the skins. Maybe blanch the nuts to lose the skins, toast them to develop flavor, then grind to maximize surface area? If you get significant oils, you could try fat washing (chilling and skimming), as Katie suggests.

I wouldn't bother with smoking the nuts right now, unless you want the smoke in the finished product. One step at a time.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

You learn something new every day. I didn't know the tannin was mostly in the skin. Actually, I'd never considered that pecans had a skin, although now that I think about it I guess they do. Not sure how you'd get it off, however. One normally doesn't or can't remove the skin from a nut with so many crevasses.

Anyway, if I recall correctly, Brian's infused bourbon was made either with whole pecan halves or anyway with large pieces. This, of course, is a great way to infuse tannins out of the skins and not such a great way to infuse flavor out of the meat. In consideration of the tannins being mostly in the skins, I would think that grinding up the pecans would expose maximum surface area of the meat for infusion. Using a sufficiently large amount of pecans and a shorter infusion time should help to minimize the infusion of tannins in the the liquor.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Blanching should soften the skins up. Then I'd try the hazelnut method: vigorous rubbing in a towel. I think Sam's right -- you won't be able to remove the skin completely, but if you succeed even 50% -- and I think you could do better than that -- you've reduced the tannin problem by half.


Dave Scantland
Executive director
dscantland@eGstaff.org
eG Ethics signatory

Eat more chicken skin.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

PDT had a great drink on their menu back in March called the Buona Noce (I believe this means "good nut"?), with walnut-infused cognac, amaro, and Chartreuse.

I got the recipe from John and the walnut infusion was very simple: just toast and infuse for 24 hours. Very effective. Give walnut a try; pecan sounds like a tough nut to crack.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Great minds think alike...Fools rarely differ. We have been working on a roasted pecan silver sour (with Rebel Yell) at The Violet Hour for the last couple weeks, to go on the fall menu. And a coffee bitters to go along with it. Gum snapping waitress who calls you "hon" sold sepreratly.

Toby


A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Today we started the pecan fat-washed bourbon. Now, you might think that the combined flavor of toasted pecans with a touch of salt and brown sugar combined with browned butter steeped in a wheated bourbon might be one of the best things you've ever tasted in your life.

Well, I'm here to tell you... you'd be right.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Can you describe your process a little more thoroughly?


Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Toasting the pecans or walnuts help loosen the skins, then rubbing in a towel gets much of them off, but not all. I would think toasting would lend a nicer flavor, though.

A method I use for hazelnuts to get all the skins off is to blanch them with baking soda mixed into the boiling water. The water turns black and boils up, then subsides, and after a few minutes the skins slip off like blanching almonds. It may work for pecans, but the crevices may be too much.

All this sounds delicious! Post if the fat washing works...


Small Hand Foods

classic ingredients for pre-prohibition era cocktails

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Had some peaches moving past ripe, so I did a quick, 24-hr infusion with the smoked pecans and the peaches. Straining it now. There's not much astringency from the skins, but I fear that Dave's advice about the smoke might have made sense. More later.

And, yeah, say more Troy.


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I wasn't too involved in the fat-washing process.

I first started with the idea of pecan/coffee/vanilla bitters. Once I mentioned that to Michael who (with Toby) makes our bitters, he said he was already working on the idea of pecan-infused whiskey. Good idea.

Then we hired (with perfect timing) Mike who has worked at Moto here in Chicago. They're known for their non-traditional methods of playing with flavors. So, he's the one who took the reigns on the fat-washing.

I do know that he tried blanching the pecans to avoid the tannin problem. But, it turns out that pecans with no tannins are boring. So, essentially we got toasted pecans, threw that in melted butter, threw all that into 3 different bourbons, and in a couple more days well strain out the butter solids and taste what we've got.

Right now the idea is a whiskey sour - pecan-infused whiskey, lemon juice, thinned Karo syrup, egg white, topped off with coffee/vanilla bitters.

We'll see.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
[...]

Right now the idea is a whiskey sour - pecan-infused whiskey, lemon juice, thinned Karo syrup, egg white, topped off with coffee/vanilla bitters.

[...]

Karo Syrup!? Isn't that taking the pecan pie recipe a little too literally?

Chuckle... Well, my Mom would approve.


---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I always make my pecan pies with Steen's Syrup, which I bet would be awesome in a drink like this.


Samuel Lloyd Kinsey

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't speak for brown liquor infusions, but can attest that vodka works well. Took raw mixed nuts (hazelnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, and pecans - with skin) ans smashed them in a plastic bag with a rolling pin until the chunks were roughly 0.5-1 cm in diameter. Toasted them at 425 deg. F until they were nicely GBD; I don't recall how long it took. Once cooled, I measured out just over two cups of the mixture and infused into 1.75l of cheap vodka. (The goal was one cup per 750 ml.) It infused for 4 weeks, then was strained and mellowed for another 2 weeks. It was pretty harsh at that point, but after sweetening and aging another 4 weeks, was miraculously delicious. I found the tannic bite not unwelcome, and the flavor akin to (but decidedly more complex than) a blend of commercial nut liqueurs (Frangelico, Luxardo/Lazzaroni Amaretto [one of those made with real almonds, vs. 'bitter' almonds], etc.) Quite nice.


David aka "DCP"

Amateur protein denaturer, Maillard reaction experimenter, & gourmand-at-large

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
I wasn't too involved in the fat-washing process.

I first started with the idea of pecan/coffee/vanilla bitters. Once I mentioned that to Michael who (with Toby) makes our bitters, he said he was already working on the idea of pecan-infused whiskey. Good idea.

Then we hired (with perfect timing) Mike who has worked at Moto here in Chicago. They're known for their non-traditional methods of playing with flavors. So, he's the one who took the reigns on the fat-washing.

I do know that he tried blanching the pecans to avoid the tannin problem. But, it turns out that pecans with no tannins are boring. So, essentially we got toasted pecans, threw that in melted butter, threw all that into 3 different bourbons, and in a couple more days well strain out the butter solids and taste what we've got.

Right now the idea is a whiskey sour - pecan-infused whiskey, lemon juice, thinned Karo syrup, egg white, topped off with coffee/vanilla bitters.

We'll see.

I can confirm the above. I've done some experimentation on that for a training and had great results with Pecan-Makers Mark.

I roast cracked pecans in a pan, add a hint of sugar and throw it into melted brown butter. Let it simmer for a coupe of minutes and add the mixture to the bourbon. Let steep 48 hours, shaking it up every once in a while. Freeze, strain through coffee filter or cheese cloth.

Nice buttery, nutty flavour that still stands out when mixed.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I made a batch of toasted walnut bourbon (and bitters) using the fat washing method…. Got the idea from Mike at VH. I used 2 lbs. of walnuts to one bottle of Old Fitzgerald bourbon. I started out by cracking the walnuts and toasting them in the oven to get them fragrant. I then added Crisco (about a half a cup) and heated it all up in a sauce pan for about a half an hour. After that, I threw the whole mixture in a tall Tupperware container (hoping the nuts would float to the top – they didn’t really) and stuck it in the freezer for two days. I put it first through a mesh strainer, and then took the remaining mixture and squeezed the juices out through a cheese cloth. I then ground the nuts up, and squeezed the juices out again through the cheese cloth. The, I filtered all this thru a Britta. Apparently I toasted the nuts a little too much, as the liquor has a very intense walnut taste (my wife says it tastes a bit burnt), but it’s still pretty good… very fragrant and sweet. I am hoping the walnut taste comes through on the bitters, which are currently aging.

I’m planning on trying this again with La Tourangelle toasted walnut oil… It will allow me to skip the first few messy steps, but I’m a little concerned with the final taste. I’ll post my results when complete.


_________________________

Dave Kaye

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Could you have mixed some of this more intense brew with the original bourbon? Or would that not have done the trick?

The above experiments of mine lead to a very milky louche. Did the fat washing prevent that?

Eager for pix...!


Chris Amirault

camirault@eGstaff.org

eG Ethics Signatory

Sir Luscious got gator belts and patty melts

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Could you have mixed some of this more intense brew with the original bourbon? Or would that not have done the trick?

The above experiments of mine lead to a very milky louche. Did the fat washing prevent that?

Eager for pix...!

The resulting bourbon is not cloudy at all... it's a darker brown than the original bourbon but still clear. Well, clear brown, anyways. I’ve been making the following with it:

The Chesterfield

1.5 oz. walnut bourbon

1.5 oz. bourbon

.75 oz. carpano antica

1 tsp. coffee bitters

Dash of simple syrup (to cut the bitterness of the walnuts)

Stir, serve up in a rocks glass with an orange peel squeezed over it.

Fat washing is a really good technique. When you filter the end result, all the fat gets removed and just the flavor remains. I think the important thing is that you try and just put the fat (no solids) in the liquor. I've made some bacon flavored bourbon and some butter flavored rum, and in both instances there was only fat to skim, so I had very little loss of liquor. However, with the walnuts I used 1 bottle to 2lbs walnuts (probably way more nuts than I needed) and about 1/3 of the liquor was absorbed in the nuts (bummer). Perhaps I could have strained out the fat from the nuts before I froze it, but I wasn’t sure so I added it all.

Either way, it seems to me this is an excellent way to add flavor from any sort of fat to liquor. If my next plan works, La Tourangelle makes so many excellent looking oils I’m sure I’ll have to do pistachio rye…

Pics forthcoming.


_________________________

Dave Kaye

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.