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Thread: Question about topping off a carboy for aging...

  1. #1

    Default Question about topping off a carboy for aging...

    Hey all,
    I am approaching the end of the ferment cycle on my first batch of classic mead and have a quick question concerning topping off the carboy for aging... I see that Jack Daniels Distillery makes a Honey Whiskey... So my question is basically, would it be a bad thing to mix the honey whiskey with a stabilized, aging mead? Might add some oak flavoring as well... Any thoughts on this?

  2. #2
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    I don't like topping off with whiskey because the flavors are fundamentally different from my mead, and I'm a purist!
    Na zdrowie!

    Wayne B.

  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by wayneb View Post
    I don't like topping off with whiskey because the flavors are fundamentally different from my mead, and I'm a purist!
    Hehe, I gotcha and understand as well. Thanks for the input.

  4. #4
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    Whereas, I see nothing wrong in your idea/suggestion.

    Just remember, bulk ageing is done to reduce the effect of temperature swings and consistency, while all the vineyards/wineries round here bottle age, but the bottles are retained in temperature controlled storage.

    So I'm thinking that Waynes comment alludes to the fact that you'd be fundamentally changing the taste/flavour.

    If anything, something neutral like vodka, with honey might be a better bet.....
    here's me home brewing blog (if anyones interested....)
    and don't forget
    What the large print giveth, the small print taketh away! Tom Waits.....

  5. #5

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    I've never used Jack Daniel's honey whiskey in my mead, but I have used it (and other labels) for curing drinking horns. Just from my exeprience, I'm with wayneb, they flavors are VERY different. For one, it's hard to find someone who uses fermented honey in their mixes and doesn't just drop some honey into their finished spirit. So you get a kind of 'syrupy' mouth feel that I'm not a fan of.

    If you're going for raising the ABV, I'd suggest making a 1 gallon trad with the least memorable honey you can find (usually a pale clover for me) and ferment it to dry, then blend. You'd affect the flavor a lot less.

    If you really want the whiskey and oak flavor, get some medium toast oak and soak it in a jar with a quality whiskey for a few weeks/couple months. Then put that in your mead. I wouldn't use something Jack, but that's me...

    If you absolutely must top off and don't want to use your own mix of honey/water (I usually mix it a few points higher than what I'm at so it has some room to be fermented if the yeast is still active, but won't affect my ABV too much), then go with fatbloke and use vodka or everclear. Something that won't affect your flavor profile too terribly much.
    Angry Viking Hedgehog say "Give me mead or I poke ya!"

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soyala_Amaya View Post
    I'd suggest making a 1 gallon trad with the least memorable honey you can find (usually a pale clover for me) and ferment it to dry, then blend. You'd affect the flavor a lot less.
    I have been using a dry Traditional that I made, and wasn't a big fan of when I bottled, to use for topping off. When I was racking this past weekend I had 2 Carboys that needed topping off so I popped one of the bottles and added it. There was a little left so of course I poured a glass for myself and it had mellowed really nicely over the year in the bottle and sadly now there are only a few bottles of it left

  7. #7

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    I wouldn't have used a blend for bottling. They two meads need time to acclimate to each other and smooth out. The couple of trads I have in 1 gallons I use for topping off after racking, with several months of aging still to go. For me, it's kind of like I don't want to bottle a week before I serve something, it doesn't let the mead settle down after moving. I want at least a month in the bottle before I start handing it out. I believe the term is "bottle shock"?
    Angry Viking Hedgehog say "Give me mead or I poke ya!"

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soyala_Amaya View Post
    I wouldn't have used a blend for bottling. They two meads need time to acclimate to each other and smooth out. The couple of trads I have in 1 gallons I use for topping off after racking, with several months of aging still to go. For me, it's kind of like I don't want to bottle a week before I serve something, it doesn't let the mead settle down after moving. I want at least a month in the bottle before I start handing it out. I believe the term is "bottle shock"?
    The batch that was in the bottle and which I used for topping off is over two years old, aged for a year and has been sitting in the bottle for a year, I just wasn't a fan of it. I added this bottle to a carboy that I had just racked for aging, so it'll have 6-12 months to meld with the mead before I actually bottle it. After I bottle I usually let them sit for another 4 months before they actually get served.

  9. #9

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    I really do appreciate everyone's input here. I can definitely see going with a neutral liquor if I was after raising the ABV as suggested by Fatbloke.

    Using liquor to cure drinking horns sounds very interesting. Are you involved in SCA, renaissance, or Rendezvous Soyala_Amaya? Just curious. Curing drinking horns is not something I hear of many people doing.

    Back on topic, I'm not sure how good this first batch of mine is going to turn out. I suspect that it may turn out to be really good for topping off other batches, so that may end up being its destiny. LOL Having mead around to top off the carboy for aging seems like a great idea. This first batch I think I'll do the honey/water mixture to top off.

    Anyway, thanks a ton for the input folks, I greatly appreciate it.

  10. #10

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    I'm Heathen, actually. We use horns during our religious rituals, and for personal use when we want to use something fancier than just a bottle being passed aorund. I like my mead in a horn vs a cup, but I also don't feel like spending $65 and up on something I can buy for $5 at a leather works store. It just takes a few months of polishing, scrubbing, and curing before it's usable, but I like the work.
    Angry Viking Hedgehog say "Give me mead or I poke ya!"

  11. #11
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    If you're feeling adventurous and want to use a spirit for topping up, I'd go with a nice brandy/calvados. While still different than the flavors of mead, I find that the flavors can be complementary, and I've taken to using brandy for my at home mead cocktails. The oaky/vanilla smoothness adds something wonderful in my experience.

    As others have suggested, start doing experiments like this on a small, one gallon scale (or better yet in a wine glass). Then if you don't like it, you've only wasted ~3 lbs of honey, some brandy, and time. Better than ruining a full five gallon batch.
    Find what you like, and hone it to perfection.

    And don't serve dodgy beer!

  12. #12

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    I have a question, Does it have to be an alcoholic beverage. Wouldn't spring water work just as well?

  13. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by YogiBearMead726 View Post
    ...I've taken to using brandy for my at home mead cocktails. The oaky/vanilla smoothness adds something wonderful in my experience.
    This sounds intriguing. Care to share some of your brandy/mead cocktail recipes? (Please?)

  14. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by Soyala_Amaya View Post
    I'm Heathen, actually. We use horns during our religious rituals, and for personal use when we want to use something fancier than just a bottle being passed aorund. I like my mead in a horn vs a cup, but I also don't feel like spending $65 and up on something I can buy for $5 at a leather works store. It just takes a few months of polishing, scrubbing, and curing before it's usable, but I like the work.
    Ah hah! Heathen you... Hehe just kidding. Well I can completely understand saving the money, besides, the elbow grease does kinda make it yours in a more personal way. Namaste!

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