A year and a half has gone by since I made my experimental batch of carrot whiskey. Time to taste!
The batch took a long, long (long) time to stop fermenting. I don’t really know what these carrots added in terms of fermentables, and the wheat (unsurprisingly) didn’t do much more than plump up during fermentation, but the cane sugar at least fermented right out and took this wine completely dry. It resisted clearing, too: neither time nor Sparkalloid made any difference to its cloudy appearance. At a guess this was likely starch haze from the wheat.
I was, to be honest, annoyed at this wine, so I stuck it in some bottles and tried to forget about it.
At bottling time it tasted like nothing more than a decent… bottle of watered down ethanol. There was little to recommend it. A little carrottish aroma here, a little roundness on the palate from the wheat there, but little else except very aggressive raw booze anywhere else. So I was in no hurry to open one up and see: into the cellar [um, back of my kids’ wardrobe] it went.
While bottling this summer’s wines I took it out to have a look, and a taste.
In eighteen months, it’s dropped a fair bit of sediment, and is almost (though not completely) clear. It’s mellowed out quite a lot from its aggressive early days, and it does have a promise of a lovely golden colour. However it’s not, or not yet, the smooth substitute for a decent whiskey that early recipe writers hyped it up to be.
Could it be, though, given time?
Maybe. I would say that given a great deal of time it’s likely to be a very pleasant, golden, high alcohol winter sipping wine.
I anticipated waiting a long time for this one to be ready, but it’s clear that eighteen months isn’t even close to enough. I think more like three, or five, will bring this one closer to where it needs to be. In eighteen months the aroma has changed from aggressive to relatively OK: I won’t say appetising, but it’s changing, and who can say what will happen in the bottle. The alcoholic bite is already starting to mellow. I’ve stuck the remaining carrot ‘whiskey’ in the shed, to be discovered perhaps when we next move house.
If I tried this recipe again, I think I would lower the cane sugar, then buy *malted* wheat grains and treat this element of the recipe like a beer mash. This would pull out their fermentable AND *unfermentable* sugars, and give this wine the dose of slightly sweet body that’s needed (i think) to balance the whack of high-octane fermented carrot. Who knows, maybe even peated malt would be good. I’ll have a think while this batch ages.
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