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Unaged Whiskey Getting You Down? Here’s How to Cope

So you’ve got a bottle of unaged whiskey. Sigh. Most of us do. Maybe it was a gift from a well-meaning in-law who knows you like whiskey. Maybe you picked it up to support your local distillery hunting for cash flow while their stocks age. Or maybe it was a curiosity-fueled impulse purchase at the liquor store from a big-name brand like Jack Daniels or Jim Beam, a kind of inquisitive foray into the unknown.

No matter where it came from, most bottles of white dog meet the same fate: languishing at the back of the liquor cabinet, collecting dust, while you reach for other, older, more delicious things with far greater frequency.

If you don’t like drinking it straight, don’t despair – there’s hope.

First, white whiskey can work really well in cocktails. Classic whiskey cocktails can be a good starting point, although don’t expect it to look or taste anything like the standard version. Here’s a good recipe for a white Manhattan subbing white vermouth for red and orange bitters for Angostura, producing a nearly crystal-clear drink that surprises with rich grain flavor.

If you’re ready to get a little farther afield from classic whiskey cocktails, start thinking along agave lines. The vegetal, funky flavor profile of unaged whiskey can also work in the same contexts as tequila or mescal. Think tropical fruit, citrus, salt, chiles, apples, and even herbs like mint and cilantro – like this refreshing pineapple lime punch.

Octomore spirit
Unaged Octomore (image via Bruichladdich)

Your other option is to age it yourself. You’ll be hard pressed to make something that rivals the professionals, but aging new make at home in a small barrel can be a fun – and educational! – experience.

You’ll need a small barrel, enough white dog to fill it, and a little bit of patience. Rehydrate your barrel (it should come with instructions), fill it with new make, and then wait. Sample the contents every week or so to guard against over-aging and experience the changes in color and flavor over time.

When you’re satisfied, decant it back into the bottle to stop the extraction and enjoy your (hopefully) improved new make. Don’t wait too long though – evaporation rates are much faster in a small barrel than a full-sized one, so it’s possible for your barrel to evaporate completely if you’re not careful!

5 Things You Didn’t Know About The Macallan Coronation

In 1953, many millions around the globe gathered in front of the television to watch the coronation of Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II. 60 years later, The Macallan Distillery released a special commemorative bottling, celebrating the anniversary of the historic event.

Margarett Waterbury

Margarett Waterbury is the author of Scotch: A Complete Introduction to Scotland's Whiskies and a full-time freelance writer and editor. Her work has appeared in Whisky Advocate, Food and Wine, Spirited Magazine, Artisan Spirit, Edible Seattle, Sip Northwest, Civil Eats, Travel Oregon, Artisan Spirit, and many other publications. She is the former managing editor of Edible Portland, as well as a cofounder and former managing editor of The Whiskey Wash. In 2017, Margarett won the Alan Lodge Young Drinks Writer of the Year award. She received a fellowship for the Symposium for Professional Wine Writers in 2017 and 2019.

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