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Fat Washing

Fat washing is mixing a melted fat with a spirit, chilling the mix­ture until the fat solidifies, then skimming it / straining it, to get the fat out. I use a cheesecloth or even a coffee filter sometimes.
No fat is left in the spirit BUT the taste stays. When done properly, the only thing left behind is the taste of the fat (the spirit itself does not taste fatty or greasy). Sounds weird, tastes delicious.

So far I've tried it with bacon fat (for bacon-infused bourbon) using the Don Lee/PDT recipe. It leaves a subtle smokiness behind, dependent upon how smoky the fat was to begin with. No actual bacon pieces are required. Just the fat.

And I've been messing around with browned butter (for butter-infused rum) using Eben Freeman of Tailor's recipe. Makes a mean hot toddy, and finishes quite nicely. However, I've found that Freeman's recipe calls for a LOT of butter per cup of rum, and my infusing vessel doesn't appear to be making the best use of the butter as it is not superwide.

Anybody else here infusing spirits using fat washing? What fats besides bacon fat or butter? I have been told that sesame oil does not work too well, neither does olive oil, or avocado.

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  1. This all sounds soooo wrong, and yet sooo right. I can't wait to hear more.

    1. I tried fat washing with bacon fat using Don Lee's method as well. However, I think the bacon I used wasn't smoky enough as the resulting bourbon was fairly bland. I have some Benton's bacon now and plan to try again once I cook that up.

      1. As an aside, I followed a recipe for bacon and black pepper infused bourbon from a Portland, OR local magazine. It recommended 3 WEEKS infusion time. Needless to say, the results were overpowering.

        13 Replies
        1. re: Frommtron

          Played around on the weekend with some rum and burnt butter... tastes pretty good. Now it's just down to tweaking ratios of butter and time.
          Good thing I have an endless supply of good Jamaican rum.


          1. re: legourmettv

            I am really interested in trying this, what have you found works best? How much butter, and how long to infuse?

              1. re: kathryn

                Thanks for the pointer. I prepped the rum yesterday, and as I type I'm sipping the first test cup. Upped the rum to 2oz to make it potent enough, but aside from that followed the recipe more or less to the letter. Awesome stuff!

                1. re: davis_sq_pro

                  Okay, so now it's post-Christmas and although it was a fun novelty at the time I don't particularly enjoy sipping hot alcoholic beverages. Anyone have success using the buttered rum in cold drinks?

                  1. re: davis_sq_pro

                    any updates on cold buttered rum drinks?

                    1. re: benila

                      I ended up throwing out the rest, and doubt I'll ever make it again. I've decided that fat washing is something best left to the pros. It's a pain to do at home, and no one wants to drink more than one or two glasses of the end product so it's difficult to use up.

          2. re: Frommtron

            That's crazy, I don't think I've ever infused anything for more than 1-2 days.

            1. re: kathryn

              Yeah, it was my first go around with infusing. I did some Woodford with apples, cinnamon, and vanilla beans; Tito's vodka with meyer lemon peels; vodka with lemongrass, galangal, and wild lime leaves; and the bourbon, bacon and black pepper one. Both vodkas overinfused a bit but were drinkable. I let them go about 6 days.

              But the bacon bourbon is insane. A sip or two is actually really good but 1/3 of the way through a cocktail you want out.

              I laughed out loud when I saw that Don Lee recommended 6 hours. I think that's too little time but better than ruining a bottle of bourbon the way I did. Back to the drawing board.

              1. re: Frommtron

                A lot depends on whether or not you're infusing at room temperature or in the fridge. Infusion is highly dependent upon temperature; the colder it is, the slower something infuses.

                In any recipe, I've found the varying any of these greatly affects the results:
                volume of liquid to be infused
                amount of infusing ingredient
                strength of infusing ingredient
                length of infusion
                temperature of infusion

                A lot also depends upon the particular flavor profile of the spirit you're using as well as what you're infusing it with, especially since some bacons are smokier than others and you never really know how hot a hot pepper is going to be.

                We did one with tequila and jalapenos but the peppers were on the mild side so there's just a tiny hint of spiciness, not the big punch my fiance wanted. We also got conflicting advice as to whether or not you simply pierce the pepper, slice the pepper, chop up the pepper, use just the seeds, use the seeds AND the skin...etc.

                1. re: kathryn

                  Heat is mostly in the seeds, so I'd make sure to include the seeds.

                  1. re: greglor

                    But there are a variety of ways you can do it: whole pepper with the skin pierced vs. just the seeds and no flesh vs. the pepper cut up horizontally including the seeds...

                  2. re: kathryn

                    I infuse at room temperature in my pantry. But I live in Southern California so room temperature can be quite warm, even at this time of year.

                    Have you tried stemmed and seeded chipotles in vodka or tequila? That's what I've got cooking now. The heat from chipotles seems to be less varied than the fresh jalapenos so they are more predictable. They are still warm even with the seeds gone since most of the heat is in the membranes on the inside of the capsicum. I plan on working it into a Bloody Mary.

            2. Great post... I've just infused some bacon in bourbon using the fat wash method. I used about 6 pieces of bacon to 2 cups of bourbon (not wanting to ruin an entire bottle). I cooked the bacon, promptly ate it, and poured the remaining fat in the bourbon. This was placed in tupperware which went into the freezer for about a day and a half. At this point, the fat had separated and was extremely hard (while originally I had planned to let it infuse longer, I figured it wasn't necessary since the fat was already almost completely separated). So, the result is a pretty salty, smoky bit of business, which definitely has a bacon aftertaste, but isn't necessarily "good"...

              1. Just so you know, what you are basically doing here from a chemistry perspective is a solvent extraction of the fat. This is done in making perfume, in order to extract scent from certain flowers, barks, etc.

                Some of the volatile flavor components in the fat are essentially extracted out of the fat by the alcohol. If you were not making cocktails, but wanted the pure flavor, after the freeze, you could evaporate off the alcohol and you would have pure flavor essence (essential oil in the case of flower extracts) left behind.

                5 Replies
                1. re: StriperGuy

                  Uhhh... So if this true, why wouldn't the fragrance industry be making LaBacon parfum ?

                  Seems like every guy would buy that for his woman.

                  1. re: jerryc123

                    My girlfriend already smells like bacon.

                      1. re: jerryc123

                        My girlfriend is vegan, I doubt she would like it :-/

                      2. A friend told me about trying some Grand Marnier infused with duck fat. Duck a l'Orange cocktail? Sounds interesting... Next time I roast a duck, I'm going for it!

                        1. I was just watching "The Best Thing I Ever Ate" Holiday episode, where Claire Robinson describes the Elvis Panini at The Patterson House in Nashville. And she washes it down with a Bacon Fat Washed Bourbon Old Fashioned. The bartender finishes it with some coffee pecan bitters.

                          Of course when you google "Bacon Fat Washed Bourbon," the first item in the list is this one.

                          This "Holiday Edition" absolutely backfired because all of the chefs on the show know that when they have just finished taping their own holiday shows, the last thing they want to eat is turkey. So the "Holiday" meals varied from The Elvis sandwhich to a seafood cobb salad.

                          1. ...fat washing...
                            right now we're doing pancetta bourbon at the bar. Adoule sausage works beautifully. Brown butter rum is still among my favorites and is still found on our cocktail list. Avocado WILL work with the proper vehicle, so long as the spirit has enough weight, body and finish to stand with the tenderness of the avocado. The likes of an reposado tequilla aged in a brandy barrel will actually work beautifully.
                            Also for your consideration, truffle oil, duck fat, any fruit oil and peanut butter! ... made a fluff 'n' nutter... delicious cocktail.

                            5 Replies
                            1. re: johnathan_obrien

                              I've done supermarket bacon in inexpensive Evan Williams Bourbon, and was pleased with the results. I will do this again using better bacon, and a higher-end bourbon.

                              I recently tried doing browned butter with vanilla bean in aged rum, and was pleased with that as well. A note - butter does not completely separate from the booze like bacon fat does in the freezer. It was more difficult to separate and strain through coffee filters than the bacon fat.

                              jonathan_obrien: What bar do you work at? What was the vehicle for avocado?

                              1. re: jerryc123

                                Browned butter and vanilla bean rum is one of my favorites as well. I use Jim Meehan's recipe:

                                1. re: kathryn

                                  Holy cow! I think I just found our post-Thanksgiving meal drink!!

                                  Thanks for this thread. I'd never heard of this before I read your posts here.

                              2. re: johnathan_obrien

                                Did you mean andouille sausage? Never heard of adoule.

                                1. re: johnathan_obrien


                                  Would you mind sharing a recipe or few with your fellow hounds? Nutter butter sounds awesome!

                                2. Does anyone know how you would be able to infuse banana into Jack Daniels through fat washing? I was recently at a bar in Sydney who do a banana old fashioned and its absolutely phenomenal. I spoke to one of the bartenders who told me that they fat washed it.

                                  5 Replies
                                  1. re: magumpa

                                    sounds like a banana butter. they probably caramelized the banana in butter and then strained the banana out. then they probably added the strained butter to the bourbon. that's my best guess. what was the banana flavor like? was the flavor fresh or cooked?

                                    1. re: pb n foie

                                      It tasted pretty fresh but what you are saying makes sense. I'm heading back to that bar this week sometime and I'll have to ask them how they did it in steps. I'm very new to all of this, I've only been a cocktail bartender for 18 months or so and I had no idea you could fat wash until last week. I've just been getting my head around everything else I can possibly know. Thanks very much for your help!

                                      1. re: pb n foie

                                        I am pretty sure they just mashed up fresh, very ripe, bananas and infused them and then fat washed them out. No caramelizing.

                                        1. re: JMF

                                          bananas have fat? thought they were mostly carbs

                                      2. re: magumpa

                                        I've had drinks where they infused a liquor with banana chips and strained them back out. Not really "fat washing" because there wasn't any fat involved...

                                      3. Hopefully someone can help me here. I've tries the Bentons Old Fashioned at PDT and thought it was great - nice and smoky. But I've now tried twice to infuse the same flavor into two different bourbons and frankly they still taste like bourbon with no smoky taste. The first time I used bacon from Whole Foods so I wrote that off as not smoky enough. But the second time I used high end bacon from North Country which was rated in a tasting I read online as quite smoky. Unfortunately, I'm not tasting it. I use 2 ounces of fat for a bottle, let it infuse for four hours, freeze it overnight , and then skim the fat and strain the bourbon through a coffee filter. Could that last part be the issue or do I just have to spring for Bentons bacon and wait four weeks to get it right?

                                        15 Replies
                                        1. re: Thenewguy11

                                          You really need to use Benton's bacon, which is insanely smoky. Smoky enough that you can smell the smoke through the packaging. Your method is correct, overall, it's the smokiness of the bacon that you're using that doesn't quite match up.

                                          1. re: kathryn

                                            I really need help too--ASAP because I need to have bacon fat washed bourbon ready for this Friday night for anniversary. I did the whole thing exactly like I saw on the video of Don Lee: I poured one 750 ml bottle of Four Roses, Yellow Label, like Lee recommends, in a pitcher. Added 1 oz of rendered Benton's bacon fat (paid, waited for shipping--the whole thing). I let it sit on a pantry shelf at room temperature for almost 6 hours, then froze it overnight. I removed the fat and was about to pour through strainer and funnel, but tasted it and it tastes like bourbon with no smoke, no bacon flavor--nothing. A couple of things I should mention: I tasted the bacon fat on my finger before pouring in and it didn't taste smokey; I did NOT shake or stir the bacon fat into the bourbon when I poured it in, and it just sat on top of the pitcher right away, as it's lighter than the bourbon. I plan to try again with the same bourbon. Kathryn, could you PLEASE make suggestions? Should I double the amount of fat (but I don't want it to be overpowering), stir, leave it to steep overnight? I'd really appreciate your insight!

                                            1. re: CantThinkOfName

                                              This doesn't sound right. Maybe you got a bad batch of bacon? Just to clarify, you purchased Benton's bacon online and cooked it yourself? 3-4 pieces? I believe that Benton's used to sell a pre-rendered jowl fat product as well -- but it's not smoky enough to use for this recipe.

                                              Usually Benton's bacon is crazy smoky. If your fat didn't smell like smoke, then it had no smoke to transfer to the bourbon. I would try again and see if maybe you just happened to cook non-smoky pieces of bacon? That is very, very odd. I might also try going to a nicer grocery store or a farmer's market, and trying to purchase the smokiest bacon you can as a backup.

                                              The PDT official recipe book says 1.5 oz of fat to 750 mL bourbon. But regardless, the fat itself should smell VERY SMOKY.

                                              You can also try again using a wider mouthed vessel, so that the fat makes more contact with the bourbon. But again, if the fat wasn't smoky to start with, there's really no flavors to infuse with.

                                              1. re: kathryn

                                                Thank you, Kathryn. I'll try again. Yes, I bought the Benton's Bacon on-line, had it shipped, and cooked the bacon myself. The bacon smelled incredibly smokey (even raw and through the packaging), as did the house and my clothes after cooking it. It was the fat itself that didn't smell smokey (I don't usually cook bacon, so don't know how it's supposed to smell). I used a pitcher, so the mouth was pretty big. I think I'll make it 2 oz of fat to 750 ml bourbon and I'll stir it in this time, so that it doesn't just sit at the top.
                                                I saw another video on Youtube of Jaimie Boudreau doing this and he seemed to use a MUCH greater ratio of fat to bourbon, and let it steep much less time. One last question, because I am not a bourbon drinker, will the properly "washed" bourbon taste strongly of bacon, and should I be able to smell the smoke and bacon in the bourbon as I'm filtering it back into the bottle?
                                                Thank you so much for your help!

                                                1. re: CantThinkOfName

                                                  One thing to keep in mind with Allan Benton's products is they are indeed made the old fashioned way and you can get significant differences in smokiness/saltiness. In particular I have noticed this with his hams.

                                                  Fat washing is all a matter of proportions and time, so if someone else's recipe has way more fat to bourbon, it doesn't surprise me that he calls for less time.

                                                  And yes, the final product is pretty smoky. We pour ours back into the Four Roses bottle and I can smell the smoke through the cap!

                                                  1. re: kathryn

                                                    Hi again Kathryn, sorry to bug you. I just cooked my last six strips of Benton's bacon and smoked up the house. The bacon is very flavorful and smokey, but the fat still does not smell that strong and barely has any taste. I put it all into the pitcher with the 750 ml of Four Roses and added a couple of small pieces of cooked bacon broken off. I read that it's supposed to end up salty and smokey--am I killing the whole thing with the bacon in there? Should I leave it in for a little while at least or will it make the bourbon unpleasantly salty? Any suggestions are appreciated. I'm sort of desperate because I just won't be able to get any more specialty bacon before Friday to start all over.
                                                    Thank you for any help!!!!

                                                    1. re: CantThinkOfName

                                                      I would remove the cooked bacon. The cooked bacon itself won't do anything, as it is the flavor in the fat that will transfer to the bourbon. Not the meat.

                                                      I wouldn't say that the end product is super salty or anything, but it is definitely smoky. Comparable to a smoky scotch, perhaps? How smoky were you expecting it to be? It's not like liquid smoke... but you should be able to taste the smoke in the way the bourbon finishes. It won't taste like bacon, though. To me, the smokiness is very evident, to you, it might be more of an undertone of smoke.

                                                      Do you have the any of the un-infused bourbon? The smokiness of the infused bourbon is noticeable if you do an A/B test, but given that you've been cooking w/ the bacon so much, you might not be able to tell, perhaps you're now a bit immune to the smoke!

                                                      1. re: kathryn

                                                        I just got off the phone with PDT, where Don Lee created it. They said the problem is that the fat I'm using doesn't have any flavor or smell.
                                                        I really don't understand it because the bacon is incredibly smokey and flavorful, but the fat it renders tastes insipid and nothing like smoke.
                                                        I'll leave the bacon in for a while, since it already seems like a lost cause with the fat alone anyway. I'm soooo disappointed and I have nothing else for a one-year anniversary gift. Thank you for your help!

                                                  2. re: CantThinkOfName

                                                    Let me know if you need any recipes. I made Bacon Bourbon, Pumpkin Pie Rum, the Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup Rum, Buttered Popcorn Rum, Banana Bread Vodka, and a few more.

                                                    1. re: YourLilChef

                                                      Thank you Kathryn, good to know. I'll try again.
                                                      YourLilChef, I'd love to know the proportion of bacon fat to bourbon you use and how long you let it steep then freeze.

                                                      1. re: CantThinkOfName

                                                        Hey CanThinkOfName here's my experience, hopefully it will help:
                                                        1. I found that the smokiest part of the bacon was the outside. The way I purchased the bacon it was a whole piece of meat, which the butcher sliced for me. So the bacon was most directly touched with smoke on the outsides. I live in Montreal (no bentons here) So I don't know if benton slices pieces, then smokes the pieces. or like the stuff i got smokes the whole thing then slices.
                                                        so, give your bacon a taste before you cook it, see which part if smokiest, maybe it is the outside.
                                                        2. when i cooked one piece, normally, the fat it gave off was not smokey. so i sliced off the outside(the part i found to be smokiest) of each piece of bacon I bought and cooked those parts. the fat was much more smokey.

                                                        hope this helps. just taste, and smell. And again, this method of 1 ounce fat per 750mL bottle whiskey, room temp 4 hours, is not meant to make an intense intense bacon flavour, just to give the whiskey a smokey/bacon-ish flavour.
                                                        Eating it, before cooking it ,I noticed the skin on the outside definitely had the smokiest

                                                        1. re: benila

                                                          Thanks, Benila. I can't get bacon that hasn't been sliced. I do think I'll try cooking the bacon longer next time. Since all seemed lost anyway, I went back and added the fat and a couple of bacon slices to the bourbon and letting it sit another 24 hrs. It ended up with a hint of salt (yes, I know, undesirable), but very "bacony." BF really enjoyed it in the drink "red hook." We're going to try it again, but I think I'll forego dealing with the Benton's delivery, since that didn't seem to work so well. I'll try some other smokey bacon from Whole Foods or something.

                                                          1. re: CantThinkOfName

                                                            yes, powerful bacon flavor will come from infusing cooked pieces of bacon. infusing bacon fat will give you a subtle, smoky, baconesque flavor. with all due respect kathryn, it is the meat that has the true bacon flavor, not the fat. this should not be surprising to any of us - when you eat a piece of bacon fat it is not as deeply bacon tasting as a piece of bacon meat.

                                                            if you google around, you'll see that plenty of ppl infuse actual bacon slices, and that is where you get the in your face bacon flavor. for those experimenting, i'd recommend calibrating your infusions by doing a batch with just several slices of fully cooked bacon completely submerged in vodka. vodka doesn't get other tastes in the way so you can get a better feel for what is (and it'll leave you with a superb bloody mary base). check it after a day, two days, three days. oh boy, will you taste the bacon. now you know what you're dealing with, you can switch bases and adjust between meat and fat to your desires. (if you wind up with liquor that is "too" bacony, just dilute when you mix a drink.)

                                                            the saltiness can be an issue depending on what you are ultimately mixing (with a bloody mary if you don't add other salt to the drink it should come out well). a few ways to handle this:
                                                            -try to find less salty bacon
                                                            -infuse the bacon in water for a few hours first seems to help
                                                            -wash and pat dry the bacon after cooking and before infusing seems to help a little too

                                                      2. re: YourLilChef

                                                        I saw this post and would love some of these recipes, especially the pumpkin pie rum. how do we share emails on this? sorry im new

                                            2. I fat washed bourbon with bacon grease with the intention of making a benton's old fashioned.
                                              I put it in the freezer overnight for the fat to solidify.
                                              Now I have used a cheesecloth to strain the whiskey twice, but still notice little white flecks floating around. Should the whiskey ideally be completely free of such remnants, fine particles, "sediment"?

                                              1 Reply
                                              1. re: benila

                                                Ideally, yes. It also looks kind of weird when you're trying to make a drink and you can still see the little white flecks, too.

                                                The PDT cocktail book specifies using a cheesecloth or a terry cloth. I find that sometimes I have to use multiple layers of a cheesecloth to get it out.

                                              2. I just came across this and want to try asap.
                                                I think i'll stick to butter in dark rum for now and then move on to more exotic concoctions.

                                                1. Where can I catch this for brunch?
                                                  fat - u - us