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Aging Vodka

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Hi,

First of all I would like to thank you all for the time and effort helping the community with such valuable info on these boards it's truly very helpful, so Thank you all!

Has anyone ever tried making aged vodka ?

I've got a few bottles of 190 proof GNS and would like to try experimenting how it would tast after aging it in wooden barrels, my question is,  should I dilute it first to 40% Abv and then let it age, or should I age it as it is at 190 proof before diluting it?

I would greatly appreciate a reply on this matter or any info on aging vodka,

Thanks so much,

Abe.

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The Russians call this "starka" , for TTB it could be classified as a vodka specialties and can be described as "vodka finished in oak casks". There can be no age statement. It will likely require a formula, to show it is actually something produced meeting vodka requirements and then later modified. Other "starka" have been classified as a specialty or grain spirit. "Starka" could be used as a fanciful name. There are no specific requirements but I would suggest putting it in at a high stable proof (something that won't change a lot with time), which puts you in the 100-115 proof range. You will get slightly different flavor if stored at different proof.

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Having tried this, and tried commercial products made like this.  I feel that it makes an insipidly thin “whiskey” that lacks any interest straight or mixed.  A $12 bottle of Canadian Whiskey tastes wonderful in comparison.  It’s oak flavored vodka...

I haven’t seen any of the commercial products that do this gain any market share over what pure novelty would command.

I suspect that if you took your time and really optimized a wood and aging protocol, maybe one using ex-wine casks instead of new oak, (think staves in stainless, not barrels) you might be able to come up with something really special.  Even more so if you used a fruit base distillate with some character.

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In fact, along @Silk City Distillers's line of thinking, I wonder if you would not be better off bottling a "light whiskey" as a "starka", and if you could use that fanciful name. The original Russian starka were likely made to lower proof (180-190) than modern vodka (190+), and therefore had more grain flavor. If you did that and aged in used oak with just grain in the mash, then it would qualify as "light whiskey", but the difficulty in marketing that in the US is probably why no one does so? 

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Careful comparing to Starka, especially good ones.  They are not distilled clean, and sometimes casked with fruit and other flavoring ingredients.

There is a polish one aged on apple, pear, and a few kinds of leaves.  I forget the name.

Agree with @bluestar many of these are probably more accurately called light whiskey or flavored light whiskey.

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Thanks all

31 minutes ago, bluestar said:

The Russians call this "starka" , for TTB it could be classified as a vodka specialties and can be described as "vodka finished in oak casks". There can be no age statement. It will likely require a formula, to show it is actually something produced meeting vodka requirements and then later modified. Other "starka" have been classified as a specialty or grain spirit. "Starka" could be used as a fanciful name. There are no specific requirements but I would suggest putting it in at a high stable proof (something that won't change a lot with time), which puts you in the 100-115 proof range. You will get slightly different flavor if stored at different proof.

Thanks Bluestar 

Why do you suggest putting it in at 100 - 115 proof, why not at 190 proof, won't a higher proof extract the flavor of the barrel faster and stranger ?

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1 hour ago, abe said:

Why do you suggest putting it in at 100 - 115 proof, why not at 190 proof, won't a higher proof extract the flavor of the barrel faster and stranger ?

No, you will extract alcohol soluble components faster, but water soluble components slower, so the extraction for some desirable flavors might even be slower. Also, alcohol will transpire through the oak much faster than the water at such high proof, so the proof will drop quickly, until it equilibrates, somewhere in the range I gave you, so you are essentially just throwing that alcohol away, unless you are going to be in the barrel for a very short time. And you might trip up some fire protection limit issues. Read about aging at different proof for whiskey, and its affect on flavor...

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Hi Silk,

Thanks for your replies,

On 6/21/2018 at 4:54 PM, Silk City Distillers said:

I suspect that if you took your time and really optimized a wood and aging protocol, maybe one using ex-wine casks instead of new oak, (think staves in stainless, not barrels) you might be able to come up with something really special.

Why don't you recommend ageing it in barrels?

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