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I made my first batch of mead a few years ago, and it tasted like nail-polish remover when I first tasted it. I put it away and forgot about it, then pulled it out about 6 months later when looking for something to drink, sampled it more out of masochism than anything else, and it was sweet, rich, and tasted beautiful.

My most recent batch tasted similar at first tasting, but its now about 18 months later, and it still tastes that way. I think I under-sugared it, but don't know for sure what I did. I made a split batch, using 6 different yeasts and some with some fruit, and they all taste this way, so I'm pretty sure I did something wrong, and it's not just a batch gone bad.

Is there anything I can do to try to save it at this point, or is it time to pour it down the sink and try again?

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    That initial "nail-polish remover" flavor is caused by fusel alcohols and is usually a sign of yeast stress. Some yeasts are more prone to it than others, but it mellows out over time. It's hard to say with certainty where bitterness would come from without knowing more about your process and recipes, but here's a good place to start: bjcp.org/meadfaults.php – valverij Feb 19 '16 at 20:50
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That taste you are refering to is most likely fusel alcohol being produced as a byproduct of fermentation.

Various sources of yeast stress can cause fusel production during fermentation, but excessive must heat is by far the most common cause. Especially if your must temp is at or above 72F. I'd recommend trying a high heat tolerant yeast strain like EC 1118 instead.

In my experience, fusel production with EC 1118 is nonexistent, and you'll end up with one of the cleanest tasting mead that you've ever tried. Try to keep your mead at or below 70F and remember you have to feed it properly for the yeast to preform the magic act it does.

If it's nasty and strong... pour it out and start again with a temperature controlled environment and a yeast that is more sturdy.

  • 72F is not high heat for yeast. 90F would be. winemakermag.com/resource/yeast-strains-chart – Chloe Sep 23 '19 at 17:25
  • That totally depends on the yeast. Just because a yeast survives and even thrives at a certain temp doesn’t mean it’s producing the result the yeast was designed to produce. Some yeasts really do best when low and slow, some do best in higher temps. White wines generally speaking are fermented at cooler temps than reds to produce the desired temperature based results. – Escoce Sep 27 '19 at 23:24
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Buy bentonite clay and Sparkalloid and clarify your mead. Use the bentonite first, wait a week, add the Sparkalloid next, wait a week, then rack. The clarifiers may help the taste and remove unwanted yeast hulls suspended in the mead, but it won't make a large difference. They are mostly for appearance.

Also try to refrigerate the mead for 3 days then rack again.

For the next fermentation, focus on temperature control. It makes a big difference. I had too much in a temperature controlled 5 gallon bucket so I siphoned some off into 2 mason jars and let them ferment. The 5 gallon bucket mead was delicious, while the mason jar mead was funky.

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