Make Cheap Bourbon Taste Better With Simple Kitchen Hack

Bourbon is delicious --but great bourbon often carries a pretty hefty price tag


Turn well-grade swill into top shelf bourbon.

If you’ve looking to turn some less-than-stellar swill into a premium smooth sipper, the chefs at Cook’s Illustrated have a simple hack for making any bourbon taste better.

In their new book “Kitchen Hacks: How Clever Cooks Get Things Done,” test kitchen chefs detail a quick trick which involves mixing a few everyday liquids into the liquor of your choice to reap a better bourbon.

Start with a 750-milliliter bottle of a cheap—about $15-- bourbon and add 1 tablespoon of dry sherry, ¾ teaspoon vanilla extract and 1/8 teaspoon of liquid smoke to add some subtly aged flavor. Then shake it all up.

bbq sauce

Liquid smoke is often used to enhance the flavor of barbecue sauces

"Vanilla extract provided vanillin (a flavor compound found in oak), liquid smoke added earthy depth, and dry sherry (which undergoes at least three years of oxidative aging) contributed many of the aromas and flavors associated with well-aged bourbon,” explains the book.

To test out the result, the chefs compared their new concoction to a 12-year-old W.L. Weller bourbon, which retails for about $50. While the ultimate result didn’t best the more expensive bourbon, the cheaper bourbon with the added flavors was found to have an “enhanced complexity” than its original state. 

And though the cheaper bourbon is unlikely to be as smooth as a high-end version, the easy trick is a simple way to use up any cheaper alcohol you may have lying around.


This article was originally poublished on November 11, 2015

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