Home Infusing Liquor: Peanut Butter Bourbon
Photos by Joshua Justice
This is the second in a two-part series on home whiskey infusions, which make excellent gifts year-round and are a fun way to stock your bar aside from making simple syrups and shrubs. Check out part one on the basics of liquor infusions and a recipe for Apple Pie Whiskey.
Yesterday we looked at basic tools and tricks for infusing liquor at home. Today we look at a slightly trickier infusion that requires extra care during straining.
This infusion started life as an idea for a milkshake similar to one we had last year at The Common Table up in Dallas. After four batches of experimentation, the end result has a strong peanut butter note that still retains the leather and oak notes of the bourbon. I chose the 1835 based on what I had in the liquor cabinet. I chose this over Yellow Rose Rye and Rebecca Creek based on its leather notes and similar thin body.
The brown sugar was an addition to my third batch, and it really rounds out the mouthfeel and lends the finished product to better blending in cocktails.
While you can infuse the peanuts and peanut butter simultaneously, after some experimentation I choose to do them separately. The main reason: Peanut butter only needs a matter of days to infuse. Since you can't exactly remove peanut butter from the infusion without a hassle, I recommend adding it as a secondary infusion after giving the roasted peanuts a head start. I also felt like the version I infused separately had a better overall flavor.
Freezing the infusion allows the fat from the peanuts to settle, making straining easier.
Peanut Butter Whiskey Yield : 2.75 cups (22 oz)
- 750 ml 1835 Bourbon
- 2 cups raw peanuts
- 2 Tbs creamy peanut butter
- 2 tsp brown sugar
Total cost: $28.50
Skin peanuts if necessary. Roughly chop (remember, more surface area means more infusion, but don't go crazy; removing those tiny pieces is a pain). Place in sauté pan and roast lightly (about two minutes). Allow peanuts to cool before placing in 32-ounce canning jar along with brown sugar. Pour whiskey over and seal. Place in cool, dark pantry and allow to sit seven days, shaking occasionally. (Remember to taste test. You can let your infusion sit longer based on taste.) After seven to ten days, add peanut butter to jar and return to pantry for three days.
Coffee filters are slow going but will provide clarity to your finished infusion.
Removing the peanut butter and the fat can be tricky, but there's one simple trick that should leave you with liquor clear enough to pass for store-bought. Strain your finished infusion into a clean canning jar using your mesh strainer, removing the peanuts and the bulk of the peanut butter. At this point, you may choose to set the peanuts aside for use in recipes like the ones shown below.
Place the jar into the freezer for 24 hours to solidify any fats. Strain the frozen mixture again using your mesh strainer over a large mixing bowl. Immediately re-strain the mixture using doubled cheesecloth. If the fat has begun to re-liquefy, you may return the mixture to the freezer before the final straining step. Finally, strain the mixture using a cone coffee filter. I advise doing this half a cup at a time -- returning the unused infusion to the freezer in the meantime -- as coffee-filter straining takes about 25 minutes per 1/2 cup. About halfway through, I found it necessary to use a new filter as the first one had become very slow due to the peanut butter. Bottle and enjoy.
Candied bourbon peanuts
I also kept my peanuts from the infusion and candied them using this easy David Lebovitz recipe. I found it helpful to lightly roast the peanuts first, as it will help the bourbon-soaked nuts to dry slightly.
The 1835 proved an interesting choice in the end results. The bourbon is very young, thin and very hot with slight leather notes that work well with the sweetness of the peanut butter. True whiskey-philes may want to use a better whiskey here. There are certainly better bottles available for the same price.
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