Grandma’s legacy-Bourbon Whiskey Flavor

Grandmas's cookbook

Grandmas’s cookbook

My grandmother turned 103 last weekend. It is difficult to imagine living to be 103.  By 103 years old, your health declines and you have outlived most of your friends. The reward is that you become the matriarch. Matriarchs are dominant, fair, tough, feminine leaders. I feel lucky to have a matriarch as a role model.

This year, my family felt it was important that I get some of my grandmother’s things. Included was an antique hall table, an antique pitcher and Grandma’s cookbook. The hall table evoked memories of playing cards, since the second drawer down on the left was the place she kept the playing cards for the family’s favorite game Tripoly.  Other valuable memories were stored in her cookbook. Memories of tamale pie, persimmon cookies, carrot salad, graham cracker squares, meringues and Bourbon balls. My grandmother is a good mentor and shared most of the recipes with me on recipe cards that say “from my kitchen to yours”. I feel special to have ownership of “the book” and look forward to making and sharing these recipes with my children.

One recipe that I’ll share with my children is Bourbon Balls. They will have to wait till they are a bit older to try these, though, because they contain 1/2 cup of Bourbon. Grandma tells me on the recipe card that I can use rum, Brandy or Bourbon and I will always chose Bourbon. Bourbon whiskey was one of my grandmother’s favorite drinks. I’ll never forget joining her and her girlfriends for breakfast after church one day and the conversation included a discussion on their favorite drink, Bourbon whiskey. Little did I know our generations had so much in common, because I love Bourbon whiskey.  It’s great with orange juice, cola, lemon lime soda, etc.

Grandma's Bourbon Balls

Grandma’s Bourbon Balls

Bourbon whiskey is a type of American whiskey.  It is aged in oak barrels and has a lovely woody, smokey flavor. It is controversial the exact birthplace of Bourbon whiskey, but now  95% of all the Bourbon in the world is produced in Kentucky. My Grandmother’s grew up in Ohio and Kentucky was the neighboring state. Of course, prohibition (1918-1931) was in effect during her younger years; so I’m uncertain if she drank Bourbon Whiskey during her early 20’s.

How would I go about making a Bourbon whiskey flavor that a food processor may use in a sauce, confection or beverage? Two materials I use in any alcoholic flavor include Ethyl oenathate (AKA synthetic cognac oil) and Whiskey fusel oil. If these are not available, I use a blend of Ethyl caproate, Ethyl caprylate, Ethyl nonanoate, Ethyl decanoate and Ethyl laurate for the Ethyl oenathate. For the Whiskey fusel oil, I tend to use iso-Amyl alcohol and other short chain alcohols. Because Bourbon has a sweet, woody, smokey flavor, I like to use oak extract, gamma-Octalactone, Benzaldehyde, Vanilla extract, Guaiacol and Ethyl lactate.  Items that tend to “lift” an alcohol flavor include Ethyl acetate and Acetic acid.

There are many other items to be considered for a Bourbon Whiskey flavor, but these items can get you started in the right direction.  If you have any other suggestions, please comment.

Grandma's table in my house with Grandma's favorite flower, a Poinsettia

Grandma’s table in my house with Grandma’s favorite flower, a poinsettia

 

 

 

 

 

 

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  1. Martin Baldan says:

    Thanks for this great post, Susie! Very useful.

    As a flavor aficionado, I’m making a list of aroma chemicals naturally found in diverse foods and drinks, particularly those chemicals with a Flavis number. I usually do a Google search with the product I want to learn about, followed by “gc ms” and other keywords like “flavor” and “headspace”. I only download publicly available documents. Ph D dissertations are usually the most juicy, but sometimes I have to make do with instrument application notes or even abstracts. The best data seem to be from GCO (Gass Chromatography – olfactometry) studies.

    Dark spirits seem to have some of the most complex flavors. The are so many volatile substances I’m not sure which ones are really important.

    Here’s a couple of links I’ve found:

    For several alcoholic drinks:
    https://www.chromspec.com/pdf/e/rk03.pdf

    For rye whiskey:
    https://www.ideals.illinois.edu/bitstream/handle/2142/16713/1_Lahne_Jacob.pdf?sequence=2

    And here’s a few substances I summarized myself from a few different sources (the first link and a few others. Not the second link, which I’ve just found). All those substances are from gc-ms studies, but I may have left out important ones and included less important ones. I’ll have to polish them quite a bit, but I’d love to hear your opinion, advice, comments, etc.

    I put them is CSV format with “;” as a separator. The first value is the Flavis number, then the CAS number, then the English name.

    For several spirits, including rum, whiskey and grappa:

    02.001; 78-83-1; 2-Methylpropan-1-ol
    02.002; 71-23-8; Propan-1-ol
    02.003; 123-51-3; Isopentanol
    02.019; 60-12-8; 2-Phenylethan-1-ol
    02.040; 71-41-0; Pentan-1-ol
    02.076; 137-32-6; 2-Methylbutan-1-ol
    02.079; 67-63-0; Isopropanol
    02.103; 1565-81-7; Decan-3-ol
    02.121; 78-92-2; Butan-2-ol
    05.001; 75-07-0 ; acetaldehyde
    05.018; 121-33-5; Vanillin
    07.050; 67-64-1; Acetone
    08.002; 64-19-7; Acetic acid
    08.003; 79-09-4; Propionic acid
    08.006; 79-31-2; 2-Methylpropionic acid
    08.010; 124-07-2; Octanoic acid
    08.011; 334-48-5; Decanoic acid
    08.012; 143-07-7; Dodecanoic acid
    09.001; 141-78-6; Ethyl acetate
    09.059; 110-38-3; Ethyl decanoate
    09.072; 109-94-4; Ethyl formate
    09.099; 106-33-2; Ethyl dodecanoate
    09.104; 124-06-1; Ethyl tetradecanoate
    09.106; 124-10-7; Methyl tetradecanoate
    09.111; 106-32-1; Ethyl octanoate
    09.193; 628-97-7; Ethyl hexadecanoate
    10.053; 39212-23-2; 3-Methyloctano-1,4-lactone

    For rum and similar spirits:

    02.001; 78-83-1; 2-Methylpropan-1-ol
    02.002; 71-23-8; Propan-1-ol
    02.003; 123-51-3; Isopentanol
    02.019; 60-12-8; 2-Phenylethan-1-ol
    02.040; 71-41-0; Pentan-1-ol
    02.076; 137-32-6; 2-Methylbutan-1-ol
    02.079; 67-63-0; Isopropanol
    02.103; 1565-81-7; Decan-3-ol
    02.121; 78-92-2; Butan-2-ol
    04.005; 90-05-1; 2-Methoxyphenol
    04.008; 2785-89-9; 4-Ethylguaiacol
    04.022; 123-07-9; 4-Ethylphenol
    04.028; 106-44-5; 4-Methylphenol
    05.001; 75-07-0 ; acetaldehyde
    05.004; 78-84-2; 2-Methylpropanal
    05.006; 590-86-3; 3-Methylbutanal
    05.018; 121-33-5; Vanillin
    07.050; 67-64-1; Acetone
    07.108; 23696-85-7; beta-Damascenone
    08.002; 64-19-7; Acetic acid
    08.003; 79-09-4; Propionic acid
    08.006; 79-31-2; 2-Methylpropionic acid
    08.010; 124-07-2; Octanoic acid
    08.011; 334-48-5; Decanoic acid
    08.012; 143-07-7; Dodecanoic acid
    09.001; 141-78-6; Ethyl acetate
    09.039; 105-54-4; Ethyl butyrate
    09.059; 110-38-3; Ethyl decanoate
    09.072; 109-94-4; Ethyl formate
    09.099; 106-33-2; Ethyl dodecanoate
    09.104; 124-06-1; Ethyl tetradecanoate
    09.106; 124-10-7; Methyl tetradecanoate
    09.111; 106-32-1; Ethyl octanoate
    09.121; 105-37-3; Ethyl propionate
    09.193; 628-97-7; Ethyl hexadecanoate
    09.413; 97-62-1; Ethyl isobutyrate
    09.447; 108-64-5; Ethyl isovalerate
    09.798; 617-05-0; Ethyl vanillate
    10.053; 39212-23-2; 3-Methyloctano-1,4-lactone
    14.020; 123-32-0; 2,5-Dimethylpyrazine
    14.080; 99583-29-6; 2-Acetyl-1-pyrroline

    Some synonyms:

    active amyl alcohol
    02.076; 137-32-6; 2-Methylbutan-1-ol

    cis-lactone:
    whiskey lactone
    oak lactone
    10.053; 39212-23-2; 3-Methyloctano-1,4-lactone

    ethyl laurate:
    09.099; 106-33-2; Ethyl dodecanoate

    ethyl myristate:
    09.104; 124-06-1; Ethyl tetradecanoate

    ethyl palmitate:
    09.193; 628-97-7; Ethyl hexadecanoate

    isoamyl alcohol:
    02.003; 123-51-3; Isopentanol

    isobutanol:
    02.001; 78-83-1; 2-Methylpropan-1-ol

    isobutyric acid:
    08.006; 79-31-2; 2-Methylpropionic acid

    methyl myristate:
    09.106; 124-10-7; Methyl tetradecanoate

    n-amyl alcohol:
    02.040; 71-41-0; Pentan-1-ol

    sec-butanol:
    02.121; 78-92-2; Butan-2-ol

    I wonder.. do professional flavorists like you rely to some extent on that kind of studies? Do you find them useful? Just for inspiration? Not at all?

    Anyway, besides aroma chemicals, there’s also, as you mentioned, fusel oil. And then there’s “rum ether” for rum flavors, but I don’t know how useful it might be for whiskey flavors.

    Thanks again and sorry for flooding your comments section! ;)

    • Susie Bautista says:

      Martin, thank you for adding this valuable information to this post. I began creating FLAVORS by composing excel spreadsheets with columns for availability, price,labeling status, use level and my impression of the substances at different ppm in different tasting media. When I face a challenging project, I always go back to this systematic way to create FLAVORS. It assures success. My preferred method of flavor development is to “do what feels right” and use “what comes to mind”. Realistically, the best FLAVORS are made systematically with a bit of “it just seems right”. Thank you for mentioning rum ether (aka ethyl oxyhydrate) and damascenone. They are great in any alcohol flavor. Acetaldehyde & ethyl acrylate are also great for flavor, but I have safety concerns with these items. Whiskey lactone is a good choice as well, but I was never enamored with it. It’s a good idea to do a literature search or analysis before embarking on flavor development, thanks for mentioning this. Another important aspect of flavor creation is to taste the product as much as possible.

      • Martin Baldan says:

        Thanks, Susie, very helpful observations! :)

        Could you elaborate on those safety concerns? I was assuming that an authorized flavoring substance is safe when used below its TTC (threshold of toxicological concern) and/or its ADI (“acceptable daily intake”). Is that correct?

        Here’s some related links.

        About the TTC:
        http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/faqs/faqttc.htm

        About the ADI:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Acceptable_daily_intake

        Some information on Acetaldehyde (See “safety in use” for its NOAEL, on which the ADI is based ):
        http://www.thegoodscentscompany.com/data/rw1019471.html

        Some information on Ethyl acrylate (See, in “safety references”, “Scientific Opinion on Flavouring Group Evaluation 71″ for its evaluation as a flavoring substance in Europe):
        http://www.thegoodscentscompany.com/data/rw1008231.html

        Link to “Scientific Opinion on Flavouring Group Evaluation 71″:
        http://www.efsa.europa.eu/en/scdocs/doc/1401.pdf

        • Susie Bautista says:

          Hi Martin: Some flavor components are on California’s PROP 65. If using, please be extremely cautious. Also, formulators should consider adequate ventilation or a respirator while compounding flavors.

          • Martin Baldan says:

            Thanks for the tips, Susie. In fact, I’m planning to open a tiny “factory” with all due permissions from health authorities (in Spain). My soon-to-be supplier is a licenced flavor chemist. I will just dillute and bottle the flavorings according to his instructions. I’m planning to sell small quantities of very diluted flavorings to flavor aficionados like myself, with clear and precise instructions, so that they can safely make their own blends. The paperwork is taking me way too long, but I really like all this. All advice is welcome. Please wish me luck! :)

          • Susie Bautista says:

            Martin: Best of luck! You are very knowledgeable and responsible. I am certain you will have a successful flavor business. Please keep us posted!

  2. Susie –
    I hope you will share the recipe for persimmon cookies!
    MaryKate/Cake