View Full Version : Whiskey or Mead?

03-23-2009, 10:48 PM
To kick it off, I'll throw the recipe down.
Roughly 15 lbs Wildflower Honey
4 Gallon Natural Spring Water
2 Tsp Fermax
2 Tsp DAP
Pitched D47
My SG was about 1.09
The gravity when fermentation seemed to cease was just a touch above 1.00
So, basically, this is my second time racking. My first rack was a vigorous aerating or splash racking as by your guys' command. Everything seems to be coming along quite nicely, the mead has gone from a "farmer brown" (ie shyte) colour to a fairly murky golden caramel. The lees seemed to be about an inch, so, I figured I'd rack. Well, in the process I couldn't resist a small taste, and I've discovered a strong alcohol taste. Like before, I'm probably being an impatient noob, and it's probably fusel alcohols but I had to ask. When smelling the mead I get a strong sense of spice or heat, kind of like pure capsaicin. Unfortunately, with an untrained nose, I can't pick up any honey. When I gave it a taste it reminded me a lot of a spiced cheap whiskey, flaring up on alcohol, a strong warm feeling, honestly I kind of liked it, lol. The problem is, though I can see myself drinking the 5 gallons, it doesn't remind me of mead.
I like to think that I have a high alcohol tolerance, being able to polish off my share of the spirits, but after just a small glass of this I got a bit of a buzz.
My question is primarily, is this normal? My other questions are, can I revive this mead, and is it safe to drink (have I said the symptoms of an evil alcohol as opposed to ethanol?)

Further information, this mead is around three months old. (I'm a rookie I know.)

03-23-2009, 11:00 PM
Alcohol is often the dominant flavor in young dry mead, of which yours is both. It doesn't sound to me like there is any "fixing" that needs to be done. Let it hang out in secondary, keep the airlock filled, and give it some time. The alcohol flavor will mellow out and blend in, and the honey flavors should return.

As for the buzz, mead seems to hit me harder than wine. I have no idea why. Mead hangovers suck too, so be sure to drink lots of water. ;)

03-23-2009, 11:04 PM
Thanks brother. I already kind of saw that coming, but I need reassuring. I know what you mean too, that some mead hits harder than wine. I don't know why, but I can polish off a bottle of whiskey and be fine (can still go up on stage and play/sing), but if you give me two glasses of Dansk Mjod, I'm out for the night.
And like you said, the Mead hangover. I guess I'm lucky that a pure Nordic ancestry gave me a lacking of the "Hangover Gene"? Lol. It's true when they say we were meant to drink and fight, we're good at it.
P.S. I knew that alcohol would be dominant in the young mead, but I had NO clue that it would give it that spiciness.

03-24-2009, 01:34 AM
I'll have to agree with everything that Aaron said about a young mead. Patience is the most important tool you can use when making mead. It's sad and it sucks but it's true.

BUT! There are some things you can do on your next batch that can ease that. My first question is: what temperature did you ferment this batch at? Did you aerate at appropriate intervals? And how did you add your nutrients?

Higher fermentation temperatures give rise to fusel and other higher alcohols that give that "rocket fuel"/"whiskey" flavor. Age will tame them but proper fermentation mechanics can ease that and shorten the path to true drinkability. Temperature and nutrients are the key to this. Granted, your mead will still need some aging but it becomes more a matter of months, instead of years.

Can you provide us the temperature details on this batch? Pitching temp, fermentation temp, etc.? D47 is fairly tolerant but gets particularly persnickety at higher temps.

Also, are you sure on your quantities as listed? The Mead Calculator (http://www.gotmead.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=745&Itemid=16) shows a PABV of 14.16% and an Original Gravity of 1.105 with 4gal water and 15lb (1.25gal) of honey for a total volume of 5.25 gallons. If you used 4.75 gallons of water with 15 lbs of honey for a total of six gallons, you could expect an OG of 1.092, in line with what you recorded.

There is some variation in honey density but not that much. Are you sure you had everything properly mixed before you took your OG?


Medsen Fey
03-24-2009, 01:41 PM
Yes, the burning question, "who poured the rotgut into my mead?" is frequently asked with ICV-D47 here in Florida. :eek:
Above 72F (or thereabouts) the fusel alcohol can become quite harsh, but they do fade with time (lots of time).

The spicy character may be coming from the wildflower honey. It may be covered by all the sugar when you taste the honey, but be more obvious after the sugars have been removed.

03-24-2009, 01:53 PM
Temperature is a big thing around here as well. Even though it's Indiana, everyone in this house really loves to keep the house at about 70F. Very interesting that you brought up the Wildflower honey having a bit of a spice taste. This honey isn't something I would throw on a biscuit, it's more suited to cooking because of it's unique taste. It does have a tiny bit of natural spice, perhaps the fermentation (as of right now) brought those flavours to the front.
In response to moisture, if you like dryer honey, don't get it from Hunter's Honey Farm. They have great honey, but it's moisture content is always high. Summers around here are quite humid and some of their processing makes for a great tasting, albeit high moisture, honey.
As far as temperature goes, sitting in this house may have ticked off the mead. You have to love a house that goes from 55F to 70F everyday.