If I create a wash (between 20 and 22% using turbo yeast), would it be possible to use that wash to create a (weak) whiskey using oak chips or oak powder?

I would possibly like to do this without a barrel, and would like to do this without distilling. Is 22% strong enough to extract the flavours from toasted oak chips?

Has anybody tried this? How did it go?

1 Answer 1


It depends. Mostly, on what would you consider / be willing to call a whiskey. All sources I was able to find claim things like this:

American whiskey is a distilled beverage produced in the United States from a fermented mash of cereal grain.

Above quote is from Wikipedia - not most reliable, true, but easiest to link to. You can check it's references - to be whiskey, it has to be distilled. Otherwise, it'll be just beer.

Also, specific American laws require most kinds of whiskey to be aged in new, charred oak container. Chips or dust does not fulfill this requirement.

OK, that said, you probably meant something else than you asked. I guess you meant something like:

If this would taste close enough to whiskey?

Answer to this is, sadly, no. Not enough alcohol. Buy yourself a beer. Rich tasting one, something you like. Then, add water to make it half strength. Taste. You should see the beginning. There are also other concerns

If you skip distillation, you will not get rid of most volatile components. Fast and strong yeast create a lot of them. More if you ferment warm, and you do ferment warm if you want it fast. Thus, lack of distillation is an issue and you would need a way to substitute another process to get closer.

Now, yeast. From whisky.com:

Each distillery in Kentucky and Tennessee has their own yeast strains, which have survived prohibition from 1919 to 1933 in cooled rooms. The yeast strains are so much kept as a secret that the companies have filed patents for their isolated yeasts, which is possible in the United States, unlike in Germany, for example.

I'm sure you do not need to steal their secrets, but it also seems pretty obvious you should get dedicated whiskey strain. May be "turbo", but needs to be "whiskey turbo". Or just "whiskey", forget turbo. I wasn't able to find whiskey strain that would go above 15% ABV, but that's of course no proof there is none.

And last thing, oak. Charred oak. Not just roasted. The thing with chips is, they are roasted to about the same level in all their volume. With barrel, you have almost pure charcoal on the inside, and almost raw oak on the outside. And everything is porous, so whiskey can access it all, and extract from all levels, to some degree. You won't get that with chips. You could get close, but now... extraction depends on various factors. Most important one is alcohol level. That's why best scotch whisky is aged at high ABV and only watered down at bottling. Sadly, I couldn't find a source for a whiskey. But that's something you can test. Buy 0.5l bottle of vodka and 0.5l bottle of lager (less taste the better!), put the same amount of oak chips in both and leave in dark place for a month. I can feel the difference, vodka is much more "oaky" then. For me, at least. Feel encouraged to not trust me and try.

TL;DR Without distillation best you can get is whiskey-inspired beer. Might be good (or not), might contain what you love in whiskey (or not), but it will definitely not be whiskey, nor will it taste closely like one.

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