Introduction: Tennessee Whiskey / Bourbon, Jack Daniels

About: One day I shall own a Delorean.

I wanted to make Tennessee Whiskey and Kentucky Bourbon is not much different its just a slightly different recipe and you miss out one of the steps that you would use when making the Tennessee Whiskey.

A lot of my friends drink Jack Daniel's Tennessee Whiskey and I already have built a still, the instructable is here for how I built it, you will need one like this which is a Pot Still. The point is I was looking for a project to keep me busy and even though I don't drink JD my self I thought I would have a stab at making it my self just for the challenge.

there is a lot of information from peoples how  to recipes for bourbon or Tennessee Whiskey but I wanted JD so I spent over a  month most of my evenings looking in to how to make it and trying to find as much information about JD's actual method and I found various articles and video snippets with fragments of information from people who work at the JD Distillery.

Thanks to that information I have gathered I have come up with a way to produce this my self at home as close to how they make it as is practically possible for my self.

Just a bit of a heads up because I wanted to document this so well I have taken tons of pictures, so there is a lot of images but I am hoping that wont be a bad thing as they are all good quality. well except the video on charcoal which went weird at the beginning because of youtubes codecs for some reason.

This instructable is the result of a few months of research, over 2 months of experimenting, a botched attempt or 2 and a fair sum of money just to get it right...... and i don't even drink the stuff!

You don't have to spend a lot of money your self to make it, the ingredients and the process does not cost a lot if you have the equipment already, but I had to do a few runs and I spent a fair bit extra to put it in nice bottles and present it well which can be great for gifts.

I would also like to thank the help of the guys over at forums who pointed me in the right direction now and then when I got stuck.

For those who want further reading on home distilling, you cant go wrong with The Home Distillers Workbook, you can get it here they often pop stuff up on their facebook page here

Step 1: Stuff You Will Need

the ingredients for the mash

Cracked Corn also known as kibbled corn or kibbled maize. I got mine from a feed store online which you can see the details in the picture, I'm in the UK so this was the only place I could get it.

Rye, I used rye flakes as thats what I could get hold of, in an ideal world you would use ground rye, but i don't have a grinder. got my flakes from a health food shop.

Barley Malt, or Pale Malt which is the same thing. you can make your own Barley Malt by putting barley in to a cloth sack and submerging it in water for a few days and letting it sprout then removing it when the shoots are about 1 inch long, dry it then grind it. but why bother when you can just buy it. got this on ebay but they sell it in homebrew stores.

Yeast, I used a yeast called EC-1118 which is a wine / campaign yeast but it was recommended by white labs as one that can be used, if you want to white labs do supply 2 yeasts that can be used as well one called Tennessee Whiskey Yeast and the other is American Bourbon Yeast. they also do an American whiskey yeast. in the UK you can use the wilkinsons wine yeast which is EC-1118 even though it doesnt say that it is, i emailed them to find out and it is EC-1118. otherwise lalvin make a EC-1118 and it can be bought in most homebrew shops

The amounts of these vary depending on what you are making so have a look at the recipe's on the next step.

filtering and aging

Sugar Maple Charcoal, or sugar maple chips which you can make in to charcoal which I will show you later in this instructable. this is for the filtering, if you want to make Kentucky Bourbon you wont be needing this as its not filtered through Charcoal. I had to use maple chips and make my own charcoal, in the UK sugar maple is VERY hard to get hold of and expensive when you can get it. I got mine on ebay.

Jack Dainel's Smoking Chips, or white oak chips which you can toast and char your self, ideally you want American oak if you can get it.bought mine on amazon from a UK supplier.



Cooking thermometer / Probe

2 X 25L Fermenter with Airlock, optional temperature probe

a wooden cooking spoon

an extra long spoon

a Pot Still, Ideally a copper one if you have one, but they are expensive to build do I just have a copper column on a stainless steel boiler.

Large Saucepan, I used a 6L saucepan

2.5L paint can or a couple of them, you only need these if you have to make your own maple charcoal

a clean / new pillow case or tea towel or cheese cloth

a colander

wire or a wire coat hanger to hold the colander on the fermenter

a carbouy or large glass bottle to hold the distilled spirit.

a 1" PVC tube about 5ft long, only if you are making Tennessee Whiskey and are using the charcoal.

sterilizing agent from a home brew shop

a kettle for topping up

Bottling and Labeling (optional)

some nice looking bottles

a design or design software to make one

some cheese wax

some corks from the home brew shop

a utility knife

a small saucepan and bowl

and some M3 spray mount

Step 2: Recipe, Info and Techical Terms

there is 2 recipes depending on weather you are making Tennessee Whiskey or Kentucky Bourbon, the Bourbon uses more Rye and less barley than the Tennessee Whiskey.

Tennessee Whiskey (Jack Daniels Recipe, from the distillery)

5200g (80%) Corn

800g (12%) Barley Malt

500g (8%) Rye Flakes

25% back set from the still

water, ideally spring water

1 packet of EC-1118 yeast

Kentucky Bourbon

5200g (80%) Corn

500g (8%) Barley Malt

800g (12%) Rye Flakes

25% back set from the still

water, ideally spring water

1 packet of EC-1118 yeast

I gathered from the research that I have done that the increase in rye in the Kentucky Bourbon makes it a little more spicy on the palette. But with less rye the Tennessee whiskey is slightly sweeter.

ok some information on the yeast, Jack Daniel's has their own yeast which I could not for love nor money find out what strain it was, most distillery's closely guard their yeast strains. by using a different yeast the flavor will be effected but there is not much I can do about this. As i said on the previous step there is some yeasts produced by white labs which have been designed for Bourbons and Tennessee whiskey, I choose the EC-1118 as it is very easy to get hold of, the ones from white labs you can get from home brew shops but I have found they will only special order it in for you and I just wanted to get on with it. I may try them out at some point to see if they do make a difference on the flavor of the produced spirit.

Technical Terms

Mash, this is the cooked mixture of the grain water

beer. this is the mash without the grain in it, but with the yeast added

back set, bourbon and Tennessee whiskey have a legal requirement of having at
least 25% back set in the mash to class it as a sour mash. what does this mean? well back set is the water left in the still after you have distilled a batch. we wont have this for the first batch and there is not much we can do about that. but the next batch you will have it as long as you keep it from the first lot. if you are going to leave it a while to make some more then bottle it up and let is cool then freeze it. defrost it when you are going to make your next batch, let it get to room temp before adding it.

Something Fun

ok so part of my research in to JD I came across something interesting, no one who works for JD knows why its called old number 7. the only person who knows is Jasper (Jack) Daniel and he died in the 1800's . there is various storys but one that makes the most sense is that they sent 7 barrels on the rail road to some conference a few 100 miles away. they then get told that the barrels have gone missing so they send another 7 barrels. in the mean time the original 7 barrels turned up so the railroad workers wrote "old 7" on them and sent them back to the distillery.

Step 3: Cooking the Mash

Now we know what we stuff we need to cook the mash it's time to do it. Now depending on how you do this stage will depend on how long you need. I only had a 6L saucepan so I had to make 4 batches and that took me most of a day. if you are lucky enough to have a very large pot then you can do it all in one batch. However I have heard of people with large pans who end up burning/scorching the mash because they cant effectively stir it all the way to the bottom, that being said it took me 12 hours to cook all the mash to fill 1 fermenter.

to avoid burning or scorching you need to keep the mixture moving so that its not on the bottom for too long at a time, you can't just chuck the stuff in and leave it. also you don't want to cook it too fast as this will also burn it and it wont liquify the starch in the corn, or it will in some of it but not all of it.

for my method I realized it saved time to cook a batch and then put it in a fermenter while it cooled so I could get on with the next one and save time. so you want to clean a fermenter and sterilize it before you start cooking if you are going to do more than one batch. just clean the fermenter with dish soap and hot water, rinse it out with clean water then put some sterilizing powder in and some hot water. pop the lid on and shake it (make sure the airlock is in so the pressure can escape) shake it gingerly.

I would advise you at this point to make a coffee/tea and make sure you have been to the toilet/bathroom, make sure you will not be disturbed as once you have started a batch you cant stop even for a few seconds otherwise it will burn.

In a 6L pot put around 3L of water and a portion of the back set from the previous run if you have any.

Weigh out your stuff, if you are making 4 batches just divide the amounts by 4 so 1300g of corn, 125g rye and 200g barley malt.

slowly add the corn while stirring it in, this will stop it clumping. if you put the corn in warm water it will clump up and then it wont cook properly.

Bring the corn to the boil, around 90 degrees C slowly, this will liquify the starch in the corn, keep it moving so that is does not burn to the bottom. when its at the boil keep it there for about at least 1 hour then remove it from the heat and turn the burner off. if you are using a saucepan with a encapsulated base you will need to keep stirring it for a few more minutes as they tend to keep cooking it for a few minutes. During the cooking you may notice it gets gummy as the starch liquify's, have a kettle of hot water on stand by and just pour some of that in there now and then to top up the liquids that evaporate off, you should end up with about 5L or more in the pot.

while it is cooling stir it now and then, when it gets to 76.6 degrees C (170 F) add in the rye and stir it in, put the heat on really low to hold the temp for about 20 minutes to allow the rye to soak and break down. turn off the heat and leave it to cool more. as it cools you will notice it become like mash potato.

while it is cooling stir it now and then, when it gets to about 66 Degrees C (148 F) add in the malted barley, you will have to do this a little at a time and stir it in before adding the next bit. what the malted barley actually does is to convert the starch from the corn in to useable sugars that the yeast can use later. the malted barley has an enzyme in it which converts the starch. As you stir it in you will notice its becomes easier and easier and more and more liquid.

Leave the mix for 10 minutes so the barley has time to soak, then move it to the fermenter grains and all, with some warm water rinse the pot out and pour that in the fermenter, you only want about half a cup of water.

NOTE: some home brewers use an enzyme they bought from a pharmacy called beano which helps to convert starch to sugars, they use this in addition to the barley malt. I have not used this as its not what Jack Daniels do, so its not what I will do.

also don't panic about it not bubbling quickly, it takes a little time for the yeast to get going.

Step 4: Moving the Mash to the Final Fermenter and Fermenting

now we need to move the mash over to the other fermenter and filter out the grain.

to filter the grain i used a coat hanger and a colander so that the colander sits on there properly on the fermenter, this will catch anything that over spills, put a sieve in there.

now just use a jug and put a just of mash in the filter, then when the liquid has gone, pour some warm water over the grains to get the remaining starches out, just a trickle. Remove the grains from the sieve, put them outside for the birds or something, then put the next jug through, and keep going until you have finished.

For those thinking of just putting a cloth in the colander, I tried this out and the cloth just got clogged up and it was taking ages, so I figured that the small bits will all sink to the bottom so as long as I don't suck up the sediment when I transfer it to the still later it shouldn't be an issue.

if you do not have over 23L in your fermenter you should top it up, I would pour more water in over the grains and get every last bit of starch you can get out of them.

Using a hydrometer from a home brew store you can check what the SG (specific gravity) which should be between 1.050 and 1.065, plain water should be around 1.000 so this tells us that there is a decent amount of sugars in there which will be turned in to alcohol. my first batch only had an SG of 1.025 and this was because I didn't cook the corn for an hour so i had to scrap it and start a new batch. if you think your SG is low there is not much you can do about it, other than cheat, I didn't do this because I wanted to get it right but if you want to, then here's what to do, get some sugar and dissolve it in hot water and add it to the fermenter and stir it, check the SG and keep adding until its high enough for you. but do this with caution, it will effect the flavor if you push it too high.

Depending on what yeast you are using you need to wait until the beer is within the range for that yeast. for EC-1118 it has to be below about 30 degrees C but above 10 degrees C , I have found it works better at the top end on other ferments I have done so I will aim for around 22 - 25 degrees C.

Once its within the operating temp of the yeast all I have to do is pitch it, seal the top, making sure you have an airlock in it to stop external stuff getting in and infecting your beer. Put some water in the air lock and keep it in a warm place where the temp stays within the tolerances of the yeast.

something to consider here is where you keep your fermenter, the reason I say this is because it will bubble through the air lock which sometimes can be annoying, but also some yeasts give off smelly gases. I have used some bread yeasts in other ferments that made it smell like it was rotting, but it wasn't it was just the gas's given off. EC-1118 in previous ferments did not smell too bad.

it will take anything from 5 to 10 days to ferment, you will know when its done by the airlock, if it stops bubbling it is probably done, you can check it by popping the lid off and see if the surface bubbles have stopped. don't open the lid too often as every time you do you allow air from outside to come in which could bring an infection with it and then you will have mold on your beer and it will be useless. be patient! you may find that bubbling takes a while to start as well, do not worry this is normal mine took nearly 24 hours before it was noticeably bubbling, up until then I could stand there for 5 minutes watching the airlock and nothing would happen.

When it stops bubbling leave it one more day int eh warm and then move it to some where cold ideally below 10 degrees C, this still force the yeast to stop working and sink to the bottom, we do not want yeast in the still if we can help it as it would ruin the taste,

the finishing SG should be 1.000 or lower which tells you its finished.

TIP: another thing that could be done with the grain is mix it up in another fermenter with 4kg of white sugar and boiling water, add a little yeast nutrient from the brew shop. pop in some yeast and ferment it out then distill it for some cheaper corn style whiskey. age it and filter it in the same way. but keep it separate it wont be as good as the original batch.

Step 5: Preparing to Make Charcoal

If you are making Kentucky Bourbon then you can skip this step and the making the filter step as well as Kentucky Bourbon is not filtered, only Tennessee Whiskey is filtered through Maple. You can filter other spirits through charcoal to mellow them out so its still worth knowing.

first things first we need to choose some wood, for this I am using maple, if you can get it use sugar maple which is what Jack Daniels use for their charcoal.

You will need some paint cans, I'm using 2.5L empty cans which I bought on ebay, it was the only place I could find them, I tried all over the place, paint suppliers, decorators warehouses, DIY stores the only place I didn't try was auto spray shops and the reason I mention it is the ebay user I bought the cans off aimed their advert at auto spray shops so if you are having trouble finding cans try their first. its best to buy empty paint cans rather than use old paint cans as you may contaminate the wood which would in turn work its way in to your spirit and you don't want to drink that. I made sure my cans didn't have a painted surface on the inside, the outside didn't matter as thats not in contact with the wood and it will get burnt off anyway.

you need to punch or drill a hole in the lid, if you are drilling it use a center punch to put a dent in the lid and then use a drill to make a small hole. this hole is important as it lets the gases escape, if you don't put a hole in you are creating a pressure vessel which is VERY dangerous.

make sure your pieces and not tiny but are also not really big as we want to create little pebbles of charcoal in the end, so making sure the wood starts off roughly the right size to start with is good, you will get some shrinkage. i filled the cans with all the bits that were the right size first then I used a small hand axe to split the pieces left over to roughly the right size.

Make sure there is no bark on your wood, if there is remove it, this will not make good charcoal, also remove any wispy bits as well.

put the can at an angle of around 45 degrees on your lap and start to lay in the wood, you don't want to tightly pack it as you want the gases to be able to escape around the wood. fill it almost all the surface but leave around an inch of the last part. and do this for another can if you have more until you have used up your chips. I used 4 cans,for 2kg of maple, and ended up putting a few on the top as well in each can. the main point is that the can is around half full, again to allow the gases to escape.

Put the lid on nice and tight, and if the handles on your cans are plastic you will need to remove these you dont want plastic in the fire it stinks, it could contaminate your wood and its toxic.

Step 6: Making the Charcoal

We need  to build a fire, if you have a fire pit then you could use this or an incinerator or steel drum.

build a fire with some scrap wood, you may want to scrounge some pallets or something, I had an old pine bed frame hanging around so I chopped it up to smaller bits using my chop saw / table saw, i also filled up another paint can with bits of the untreated pine and made some pine charcoal while  I had the fire going I thought I might as well which I will use for firework making at a later time.

I think most people know how to start a fire, put some paper or something down and put small bits of wood on top of it and light it, simple then when the wood is alight add more wood. simple, we want to have a fair amount of embers to heat our cans so add enough wood to create a decent layer of embers/coals. Should you have any issues getting your fire going try using a hair dryer to push air in to the fire and that should get the wood to catch nicely.

once you have enough embers you can put the cans on, but space them out a little we want the heat to get around all of them. it doesn't matter if some of the wood is still burning with flame in fact you may want to put some more on around the cans to keep the heat up, which is what i did. Make sure you put the cans in so the hole is at the top and do not block the hole so the gases can escape.

now it's a waiting game, eventually you will start to see steam and smoke coming from the cans, and eventually the gases released from the wood will catch fire. once that dies down and there is no smoke or flames, use a spade to remove the cans from the fire do one at a time, and wear heavy duty gloves, i used my welding gauntlets. And you want to turn the cans over and put them on the grass or dirt so the air can't get through the hole.

the finished result I was very pleased with, it fully burnt up, I had concerns that it wouldn't all burn. because I cut the pieces thin to start with they turned out very easy to snap between my fingers which is great for the next step.

it took me around 30 minutes to build up a decent fire before I put the can in, and about 45 minutes to an hour to do one can, and the same time to do the other 2 cans which I did at the same time.

I used latex gloves to keep my hands clean, took the lid off with a screw driver and put the charcoal in to a biscuit tin for use later.

Here is a video of the process of cooking the charcoal.

Step 7: Making the Filter With the Charcoal

Jack Daniels filter their spirit through 10 feet of maple charcoal, we have our maple charcoal now, but its unrealistic to create a filter that large at home so we will down size it a little to make it more manageable. We want to filter the spirit through as much charcoal as we can get away with so I will be making my filter at least 5 feet long, and have over 4 feet of that charcoal.
Jack Daniels have their charcoal in large tanks and spray the spirit over it, but we wont be able to do that because we wont have enough charcoal or enough spirit to make that possible. To get around this we can restrict the diameter of the filter by using a 1 inch PVC pipe and we will trickle the spirit through it, the key is not to just dump it in there and let it run out, we need to control the rate in which it goes through to get the best out of our filter.

what we want is a tube full of charcoal and the idea of this is that the charcoal will filter out all the tiny particles in the spirit and mellow the spirit out. basically he impurity's get caught in the little cracks in the charcoal.

wait for your charcoal to cool down and then you can break it up in to smaller pieces as pictured, use latex gloves to keep your hands clean. I snapped the pieces of charcoal by hand, and now and then you will come across one you cant break small enough and i used some pliers to break them. we are aiming for pieces around 1cm or smaller but not tiny or in to dust. we want to maximize the surface area of the charcoal and breaking it up will do this.

I need to control the flow into the filter for 2 reasons, 1) I dont want to fill the tube up and have the charcoal float on the top, and 2) i want to gradually release the whiskey through it so we get the maximum out of the charcoal. To do this i decided to take a plastic valve from a home brew siphon and hot glue it in the end of a funnel which will act like a hopper.

Get a large funnel and cut the tip so that it is level, then cut a notch in both sides so that the plastic valve will sit in it.
Cut the inlet pipe of the valve shorter but not all the way flush with the body of the valve, then put hot glue all around the inlet pipe and set it in the notch cut in the funnel. Put more hot glue around the outside to seal it.

you now need to cut a piece of 1" PVC pipe to around 5 feet.

now wrap a piece of the pillow cases you have over the end of the 1" PVC Pipe you have and secure it so it wont come off, use a large hose clamp or something.

Before you put in your charcoal you want to remove as much dust as you can, wear latex gloves and a mask for this, using a sieve sieve out all the dust and put the sieved charcoal to one side for use in the filter.

Now fill the tube with the charcoal pieces, but leave enough room to put the funnel in without touching the charcoal inside, about 6 inches was enough, but you may want to measure your funnel with the valve in it before you fill up the tube. It helps to use a cone made of paper to do this.

I made a holder for the filter using some scraps of wood, I drilled a 32mm hole in to pieces of wood and attached them with a 3rd piece to make an I shape, then i just slide the tube through and popped on a hose clamp, clamped it to the table, set it to the right height and done the hose clamp up to hold it in place, because the clamp is larger than the hole it holds it in place nicely.

run water through the new filter until the water runs clear, now put the end of the tube in a bucket and put some cling film over the top or a plastic bag with an elastic band and stash it out the way until we need it later on.

I actually tested it out by putting tap water in the filter and drinking it, which was surprising, it was crisp and clean, and the tap water here is horrible and full of chlorine but the filter stripped that out.

Step 8: Charging the Boiler and Distilling

You need to have your boiler lower than your fermenter so you can siphon the fermenter in to the boiler for your still.

but before we get to siphoning we need to clean everything make sure its all clean and sterilized I have not worked this hard to get here only to have an infection ruin it so I am sterilizing everything.

2 Jugs for collecting the spirit from the still, the hydrometer which is one for spirit so i know what percentage I am getting out.a container for the spirit which I can then put the hydrometer the demi john which I will be putting the spirit in after it has distilled.
a funnel for the demi john even the cork for the demi john also I ran the solution through the siphon, I am taking no risks here.

Just siphon the beer in to the boiler, making sure not to suck up the sediment at the bottom of the fermenter.

Now to assemble the still, put on the 2" PTFE gasket, on goes the column and then the thumper, which before its attached I jug in some of the beer so that the inlet pipe is below the surface, but not too much because I don't want the splashing to be too violent when the bubbles break the surface.

Just a quick note on the thumper, which is sometimes known as a doubler, what happens is the steam from the still goes in to the thumper, which has some of the beer in it, and it bubbles through the beer which imparts its alcohol in to the beer. the heat from the steam then heats up the beer in the thumper causing a second distillation. Its called the thumper because moonshiners would have a keg for this called a thump keg and it would make a THUMP THUMP THUMP sound when bubbles come out from the still.

if you dont have a thumper on your still don't worry, you don't really need it you can double distill it, for this you would need to do a fer runs to build up what is known as low wines, so you distill it to say 30 - 40 % and then put it all back in the still and distill it again to about 70% which is what i am aiming for in one go using the thumper.

Interesting side note here on thumpers there is also a similar device which is called a slobber knocker, this is basically the same but the inlet tube does not go very far in and there is no liquid put in the keg. the purpose of this is to catch any gunk from the still should it happen, which is known as burping, this happens if your wash or beer foams up and comes up the still column. by having the slobber knocker you would not end up getting this in your finished product but it would not act as a second distillation.

ok well next on goes the condenser, mine is a liebig which is a tube with a jacket around it and in that jacket cold water runs I chose this because it would be easier to store. Some people have a bucket or a keg with a coiled copper pipe in it called a worm and water would flow in to the top of the keg and out of the bottom cooling the worm.

hook up the hoses, I already had mine hooked up as I just finished running a load of cleaning solutions through it as its been sitting around for a few months. Run some water through it so the condenser is primed, no need to leave it running yet.

Now we need to hook up the controller, I have printed a casing for my controller now using the 3D printer, if anyone wants the STL files for this give me a shout, and turn on the power to about half. We want to take this nice and slow so we don't burn it and we keep some of the flavors in there.

It will take some time to heat up and you get some warning of when its about to come out of the condenser because the bubbles in the thumper start to get very rapid, you will start to see a couple of drops come out of the condenser, at this point you need to turn the water on to the condenser.

collect about 50ml and throw that away, it has all the nasty stuff in it like methanol and the esters which make hangovers much worse. Interestingly Jack Daniels and other Distillery's use a continuous still so they don't separate these out.

we want to collect everything now at about 70% if possible doesn't matter if its a bit over as when its all mixed together it will level out, we want to keep collecting the spirit until the alcohol volume starts to drop off, when it gets to about 60% keep the spirit separate from the main batch. we can then add this to the main spirit to level out the percentage if need be and use it to alter the flavor.

I am writing this as I am running the still and the first lot out was 40% which is too low it needs to be higher so that it will get the flavors from the oak chips later. the only thing to do is reduce the power to the still and run it slower this will hopefully up the percentage. Ok so I have tried slowing it down which hasn't worked either, so I think my thumper is not doing its job basically and the mash doesn't have enough alcohol in it unlike when I do my sugar runs. But this is ok, i can just collect it at what I am getting and use it as low wines, when I have collected enough from a couple of distills I will run it through again which will give me my higher percentage. ;-) and it will be a true sour mash. the only other way to do it is to cheat which I wanted to avoid doing but if you wanted to you could, by adding sugar to the mash basically.

when the spirit coming off gets to around 25 - 30% shut the boiler off and unplug it and let it cool down.

once the boiler has cooled down, normally we would throw away the stuff in the boiler which is the backset, but this is sour mash so we need to keep some of it, so we collect this for the next batch, we need at least 25% of a full mash to make it proper sour mash.

Step 9: Filtering the Spirit

only do this step if you are making Tennessee whiskey, its not used in Kentucky Bourbon

Now you need to filter the whiskey through the charcoal filter, take the modified funnel and put a little water in it and adjust the flow so it has a regular drip quiet fast but you want drips not a stream, dump the water out and put the funnel in the top of the filter.

Put a demi john or something large enough to hold all the whiskey under the filter, if you are using a bottle pop a funnel in it to direct the flow we don't want to waste any of the precious whiskey by it dripping on the floor.

you might also want to put a coffee filter in the funnel to catch any dust that might come through, I didnt and discovered that I had small traces of charcoal in my spirit which settled to the bottom, I can filter this out later using a coffee filter but I wish I had known before.

using a jug just put a jug full of Whiskey in to the funnel and wait, it will take a while for it to make its way to the bottom but be patient and it will. every time the funnel is empty put another jug full in/

Step 10: Aging the Spirit

we have our spirit all ready to go, now we need to age it on oak chips, your spirit should be around 60% Alcohol by volume for this so that it will pull the flavors out of the wood properly.

I used Jack Daniels smoking chips you can just use white oak but you will need to toast and char them your self, you can do this by wrapping the chips in foil and putting it in a preheated oven at 200 degree C for about 1 hour. then you need to lightly char them using a blow torch don't worry if they catch alight just blow them out, use a water spray to dowse the burning and stop it charring too much. I used to do this when making rum. the toasting brings out the vanillians in the wood and the charging caramelizes the sugars and helps to add color to the spirit.

if you are using JD smoking chips you need to try and put a fair number of charred chips in as well as the uncharred, there is not always enough charred chips so you can char them in the same way as you would normal oak, do not char them too heavy.

every few day or so shake it so that you have different spirit in contact with the wood.

Bourbon and Tennessee Whiskey get 50% of their flavor from the oak aging process, in the warehouses that they store the barrels in the temprature changes with the seasons we can emulate this by moving the bottle from a warm place to a cold place every few days. This will pull the spirit in and out of the wood as the wood and spirit expands and detracts this will pull the flavors out of the wood. I just put my bottle in a warm room for a day or too then move it to my hall way which is very cold for a few days.

normally it takes about 4 years to age in a barrel but with this process we can speed things up because of the increase in surface area and by moving it in and out of the a warm area. we should be able to reduce this down to 1 or 2 months, you will need to keep and eye on the color and taste it now and then to make sure the flavor is right. We want it a little darker than the stuff you buy in the shop so that it becomes the right color when we water it down to drinking strength.

Step 11: Proofing the Spirit

we have a nicely aged spirit, we could bottle it like it is but for proper Tennessee Whiskey or Kentucky Bourbon we need to water it down to 40% which is drinking strength.

filter the spirit through a coffee filter in a funnel to filter out any bits of wood.

to do this we just gradually add bottled still water to it, give it a shake and put some in the measuring tube and pop in the spirit hydrometer until its around 40%.

Step 12: Bottling

Originally I was going to use Jack Daniels bottles with my own label on them but the glass has Jack Daniels embossed in the glass, also I couldn't think of an easy way of doing the label at the top.

After searching through ebay and various glass suppliers I decided on a slightly smaller Square bottle than the Jack Daniels bottle but it is the same width just slightly shorter, only a 500ml bottle, so the label should fit. i did have a look at some other bottles and I wanted to get a jug bottle with a finger handle on it but I couldn't get them in a decent size. I Also looked at nocturne bottles but I didn't like how plain it looked but I may use them for my rum, they look more like a classic rum style bottle.

I used sterilizing powder to make sure the bottle were clean and ready to use.

I used a funnel to fill the bottles and put in a cork which I bought from the home brew shop. they are meant for wine bottles but they have a nice black cap and they are the perfect size for the bottle.

Step 13: Creating the Label

So i decided to go all out and design a label, might as well using my degree in graphic design.

What I have done is to clone the Jack Daniels Label but with my own quirky changes, such as changes in the text and the instructables robot in place of Jasper Newton "Jack" Daniel.

I used a combination of illustrator and photoshop, I also managed to get hold of the fonts used on the label for Jack Daniels old no 7

Jasper Daniels
Lynchburg Script
Motlow Caps

you can get these fonts freely on many free font sites.

I have measured the label on a 700ml bottle of Jack Daniels to produce a label the correct size, which I can just scale depending on the size of the bottle I am using and because the Image is a vector image it will not distort if I make it larger.

I had to change some some bits, it turns out that "Old No. 7" is a trademark so I changed it to "New No. 7"

p.s. yes i know I spelt distillery wrong on the first few screen shots but I updated it ;-)

Step 14: Labeling

my next problem is how to print the label, if I print it on a normally home inkjet it will look dull and not like a commercial label, so I decided to take the design to a local print shop and get a really good quality print.

Using the crop marks I made before i can cut it using a utility knife and a metal ruler to the correct size, put this on a board or cutting mat you don't want to damage any tables or anything and be careful not to take your fingers off. also a good tip for this I learnt in my University days, always use a brand new blade then you wont get any snags or tears. Cut slowly but firmly, and don't cut all the way to the edges of the paper otherwise you will remove your crop marks and then you know where to cut.

before sticking the label on clean the bottle with a clean rag and some acetone or other alcohol to get rid of the grease.

I drew round the bottle so that I could line up the label on the flat surface, on the back of the label i put 2 pencil lines where the vertical stripes are so I can line it up.

to stick it to the bottle I used M3 spray mount, this stuff is amazing.Spray the label in a separate area and move it to a fresh surface, then place the bottle on the label not the label on the bottle. pick the bottle up and pull one side of the label carefully round the bottle and smooth with your fingers slowly. do the same on the other side.

Step 15: Sealing

So it looks fairly good now but I thought it would be nice to finish off the top by melting some cheese wax that i found on ebay and then dipping the top of the bottle in it and before it cools I used a sealing wax stamp to put my initial in the top of the wax on the bottle. I got the stamp on ebay a few years back but it has a nice pattern to it and a capital N for N1cod3mus my online name and now my Whiskey brand. Also by sealing the top it reduces the risk of the cork coming out in transit and it looks freaking awesome!

just put a bowl on the top of a saucepan full of water, just make sure its a bowl you can heat. chop up the wax in to smaller pieces and put a few bits in and wait for them to melt then add more. I had 1kg of wax. don't be tempted to use candles as the wax on them is brittle and with break up, i choose cheese wax because its pliable and wouldn't snap off.

add small amounts of wax at a time, adding cold wax to hot wax will cause something called freezing which is when it all becomes one big lump. by adding it gradually it doesn't freeze and we can keep adding bit by bit until we have a bowl full of liquid with no lumps.

I had to dip the bottle a few times, so dip wait a few seconds for that layer to set a little then dip again and keep dipping to build up the layers until its thick enough. hold the bottle over the bowl for a few seconds after the last dip then put it on the side and quickly put the stamp on the top, you don't need to push down the wax is soft enough. leave it in place until the wax cools and then remove.

when you are done pour the remaining wax in to a cake tin or dish lined with grease proof paper until it sets so you end up with a slab and not a big lump you can't get out of the bowl.

and thats it, I have my finished bottle, which will be great as a present to someone, you could even put their name and age on it for a birthday.

I am so pleased with the result, it looks like you could just buy it in a shop.

Homebrew & Cocktails Contest

Second Prize in the
Homebrew & Cocktails Contest