Flavor-Infused Liquors "Kounterfitting" — A How-to Guide

Aging your whiskey or other spirits in an oak barrel is a great way to turn a cheap bottle of booze into something you'd be proud to serve to guests. But did you know that, with Deep South Barrels’ “Kounterfit” liquor flavoring essences, you can transform any neutral alcohol into rum, bourbon, whiskey or any other aged spirit? Here's how.

Step One: Get the Ingredients and Equipment

In order to use our Kounterfit essences to flavor spirits, you'll need:

  • A DSB oak aging barrel. Our products are handcrafted in Pearland, TX using genuine American oak. We sell barrels in a wide range of sizes and can customize any product with a logo or text of your choice.
  • A neutral spirit. This is the base for your finished product and should be as neutral-tasting as possible. We recommend TAAKA or other bargain vodka brands, grain alcohol or clear, non-spiced rum — avoid higher end products that have a distinct flavor profile.
  • An essence of your choice. Visit our Kounterfitting page to view our current lineup of liquor flavoring essences, including a wide range of rum, whiskey and brandy varieties.

Step Two: Cure and Prepare the Barrel

All our products are constructed using traditional barrel making techniques, without nails or glue that can corrupt liquids stored within. As a result, they must be properly cured to prevent leaks. Visit our Curing the Barrel page for step-by-step instructions.

Step Three: Infusing the Liquor

One bottle of DSB Kounterfit essence is enough to flavor up to 750mL of neutral spirits. Always measure the alcohol out by hand rather than trusting what is on the label. Also, be sure to consult the mixing instructions that came with your essence. While many varieties simply require you to combine the two liquids, some do require additional ingredients and techniques to properly recreate the desired flavor.

DSB advises mixing the parts together outside the barrel in a pitcher to insure that they are fully blended.

Once your liquor and essence have been mixed, fill the barrel, replace the bung and wait. With most of our barrel sizes you can start tasting aroung 15-20 days later.   Age to taste and then rebottle and start another batch to keep from "overoaking" your spirit.   If you are seasoned at this and want to age longer then to minimize loss due to evaporation and keep the barrel sides moist, rotate it a full 90 degrees every week. Over time, the neutral alcohol will mix with the essence, and it will also pick up flavors from the barrel itself. Our products have been specially formulated to work exclusively with our American oak aging barrels — attempting to infuse liquor in any other container won't deliver the same results.

Expert Tips

Some other things to remember when infusing alcohol with flavored essence:

  • Our liquor essences are just a starting point — check out our Recipes page for creative ideas to take your infusing to the next level, such as tequila aged in an amaretto barrel, honey whiskey and more.
  • Ensure all ingredients are thoroughly blended and dissolved. Recipes with sugar may require some light heating to blend properly.
  • Essences are highly concentrated. When blending, use the neutral spirit to rinse out your bottle and ensure all of it makes it into the infusion.

The golden age of the moonshiner may be long gone, but using liquor and alcohol essences to flavor neutral spirits is the next best thing. Check out the full list of products and essences in our online store, or contact Deep South Barrels today for more information.