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Jan 22, 2009 02:23 PM

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 :-/