The Fruit Mistake You May Be Making When Infusing Bourbon

One of the reasons it's so delightful to order a fancy cocktail at a bar is because bartenders have so many different flavors and spirits at their disposal. It would cost a small fortune to stock your home bar that way and it's easy to become bored with the spirits you have on hand. Fortunately, there's a cost-effective and impressive solution: Infuse your own spirits with flavors you love.

There's really no limit to what kinds of spirits you can infuse, from tequila to whiskey and even vodka. Infusing fruits, spices, and yes, even oddball items like bacon, can transform humdrum ingredients into cocktail superstars. Your imagination is the only real limitation for flavors to infuse into liquor and bourbon is certainly a popular choice for custom infusions. 

You could opt to imitate an existing flavor with our Fireball-inspired sipper or you can select whatever fresh produce happens to be in season. There are, however, a few guidelines that will help you avoid less-than-palatable results from a bourbon infusion gone awry.

Prep the fruit carefully for your infused bourbon

One of the dangers of infusing fresh fruit into your bourbon is over-extracting the fruit and ending up with a bitter bottle of bourbon. Serious Eats points out that alcohol is pretty darn effective at pulling flavors from the ingredients you infuse, so you want to make sure you don't leave fruits in the mixture too long. In addition, Whisky Advocate explains that you want to leave your fruit mostly intact for the infusion, particularly if it's a delicate fruit like raspberries. If you pulverize your fruit, it's likely to impart bitter flavors into your bourbon.

Rather than finely dicing your fruit for a bourbon infusion, Whisky Advocate recommends cutting your vegetable or fruit into pieces that are about the same size as your thumb. This "rule of thumb" will help prevent over-extraction of any bitter flavors in your produce. If you're not sure how long your bourbon infusion should last before you remove the fruit or vegetables, Serious Eats has a simple solution: Taste it as the flavors develop. When it tastes good to you, it's done.

Once your infusion is complete, you're ready to take on creating your own custom cocktails. Try a summer peach-infused bourbon for a warm weather variation on an Old Fashioned or an apple and cinnamon-infused bourbon for autumn cocktails.