Instructables

Alcohol Filter - A Giant Brita for Whiskey, Vodka, Gin, Rum, or Other Cheap Liquors!

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Picture of Alcohol Filter - A Giant Brita for Whiskey, Vodka, Gin, Rum, or Other Cheap Liquors!
For those looking for the "Cilffs Notes" summary of how this works:  Fill a 4-foot polycarbonate tube with approximately 1lb of (12x40 mesh size) Activated Carbon (activated charcoal), put a couple coffee filters over the end, pour the alcohol into the top, and watch as your cheap swill magically transforms into decent, respectable booze.  Total Cost:  about $15.

I enjoy a drink on occasion, usually after work and/or before bed.  These days, my drink of choice is often a Scotch whiskey, but we can't afford to drink Glenmorangie 12-year all the time...

My wife found some SUPER cheap whiskey on sale at Costco, and bought a bunch for me.  (She's sweet.)  The whiskey, however, was a bit harsh...Which led me to wonder, "can't I just filter out the impurities myself?"  

Turns out, you can.  The system I designed mimics what's officially called the "Lincoln County Process," which is still in use today by Jack Daniels Corp. in Tennessee.  If you're interested, you can read a bit more about it via the below links:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lincoln_County_Process

http://bourbonobserver.blogspot.com/2009/06/filtration-and-lincoln-county-process.html

After filtering the whiskey once through the giant Brita, my dad and I decided that it tasted AT LEAST as good as Jim Beam.  Not quite Jack Daniels, but your mileage may vary.  We also added a very small amount of vanilla extract after filtering, which REALLY balanced out the flavor and body of the whiskey.  

In the following pages, I'll detail the parts needed, and the (easy) steps...

Cheers!


- Ben
 
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Vanilla and lemon extract together more vanilla than lemon add a citris flavor remember to use 100% not imitation
tim.milonas.7 made it!2 months ago

THIS SYSTEM ROCKS! Been using it for about 2 months now and have had GREAT SUCCESS! (as Borat would say) I do a triple filter of either Albertsons whiskey @$11.99 or Heritage Canadian Blended Whisky @ $9.99 per bottle 1.75 ltr. Also at Albertsons. It is Smoother than Jameson. I know; as I was curious enough to go to the local bar and pay $11 for a double shot just to compare. A double filter brings it to about a Gentleman Jack Daniels Smoothness. In fact it with 3 runs, it filters it almost too good as, admittedly, I do lose some flavor but I played around with a few ideas and found the original suggestion of vanilla extract really made it great, then with just a few drops of liquid smoke, it became perfection. I get about 2 bottles ran 3x ea before I recharge the activated charcoal in my oven at 450 degrees for 30-45 min in an aluminum pan. CAUTION-DO MAKE SURE YOU RECHARGE AFTER THE CHARCOAL IS COMPLETELY DRY AS i WAS WATCHING TV WHILE IT WAS BAKING AND HEARD A LOUD BOOM! i WENT INTO THE KITCHEN AND THE OVEN DOOR WAS BLOWN COMPLETELY OPEN & THE CHARCOAL WAS FLAMING A GHOSTLY DANCING BLUE FLAME. As it burned off, I stirred it & got several more POPS of the oven door. so DO USE CAUTION. I AM CURIOUS TO ANYONE ELSE HAS DONE THIS WITH ANY TIPS OR TRICKS THAT WILL ENHANCE THE PROCESS.

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Try recharging in foil pan on a grill you will have no problems and it doesnt heat up the house you can also just rinse with ro water before you put it to bake a bottle of store bought water poured down the tube will also do the job remember you are filtering alcohol with it cheers to that
tim.milonas.7 made it!2 months ago

I HAVE RECHARGED MY CHARCOAL SO MANY TIMES i HAVE LOST COUNT. I USE A BROWN #4 COFFEE FILTER DOUBLE LAYER FOLDED OVER THE BOTTOM OF THE TUBE AND SECURED WITH A HOSE CLAMP (RUBBER BANDS POPPED OFF ONE TIME & I WOUND UP WITH WHISKEY ALL OVER THE FLOOR OF MY SHOP. (sorry caps, I watch the keyboard, not the screen.) I hold the tube IN PLACE WITH A BENCH VISE JUST OPEN ENOUGH TO PROVIDE STABILITY AND DUCT TAPE TO HOLD IT IN PLACE with a piece of tape reversed where it contacts the tube so it doesn't stick so I can raise it up & down when switching bottles. I use a transmission filter for a funnel as it fits perfect in the bottle and the poly tube fits tight into the top w/plenty of room for any over flow to recover before spilling over if anything goes wrong. then I apply a new filter on the top with a hose clamp and turn it upside down, take the old filter & cap off the top and re-pour the next run, changing filters after every run. For vodka and tequila, A great source of flavor extracts to use is any local baking or confectionery supply store call and ask for Luanne's Super concentrated Flavor extracts. They are extremely high quality and very inexpensive.

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MadVlrus6 months ago

Also, how many times can you 'recharge' that active carbon?

MadVlrus6 months ago

That is an excellent guide! When I first discovered this, I bought different size bottles from a shop, cut the bottoms off and had the vodka go through two coffee-paper-wrapped-carbon filters.

How much vodka can I filter through 1lb of activated carbon? How much tap-water (if it's already drinkable)?

Thank you!

panhead5510 months ago

OK, I get it... but why in the world would you want to do this to Black Velvet. BV is a very smooth Canadian blend, just fine as it is. Would suggest this process for some of the cheaper (Harsher) bourbons available at Wally-world. Personally, I will be trying this on 'Caliber' brand rum and vodka trying to avoid those nasty morning afters I believe comes from the impurities in the cheaper stuff. GREAT idea BTW. Loving it!

While it is illegal to distill at home, is it legal to carbon filter at home?
In regards to the dust, double and tipple filtering of the booze, works well.

I do not agree with washing the charcoal in water.

Using a slow drip system, to make the flow rate drop to an absolute crawl is a good idea.

Having a jug on the top and a jug underneath is a good way to do multiple filterings - when the bottom one is full, pull it out, and stick the empty one under it, and then fill the tube up from the top.

But having a "dripping tap" restrictor at the bottom or a dripper into the top, will improve the system, and then having the the mostly full of charcoal, is a good idea.

I am sure that you can filter it "far too much" but that is the balancing act - turning engine cleaner, into nearly clear booze...

I like the idea of a bottom feed system, where the charcoal is inside the top of a tank and the fluid recirculates from the overflow, back into the bottom...

More of a commericial cleaning system.
n1cod3mus1 year ago
this is the same method used to filter home made vodka, nicely documented, would go well with my Keg Still instructable
wilgubeast1 year ago
Incredibly well-documented. I like the look of the polycarbonate tube, especially when it's full of Black Velvet. Nice work.
chefsea2 years ago
This is great and was very smart to add the vanilla to smooth out the flavor.