Infusions: Making Batch 4 and history of Batches 1-3

I’ve made a few attempts at vodka infusions, but this is the latest (jarred on Sunday 10 December 2023).

My first attempt (some time ago) included:

  • Goji berry (turned out quite subtle, but enjoyable mixed with tonic)
  • Cucumber and lime peel (do not recommend, it tastes like pickles. Not bad pickles, but pickles-taste doesn’t make for a great vodka infusion)
  • Blueberry and lime peel (was ok, possibly a bit overpowered by the lime)
  • Blueberry, coriander seeds and lime peel (not sure I could taste the coriander)
Batch 1: Initial experimentation

In the second attempt, I only made two infusions, curious what Szechuan pepper would do in a vodka infusion.

  • Szechuan pepper
  • Szechuan pepper and juniper

These two produced interesting results. The vodka captured the herbal and floral notes of the Szechuan pepper, but also brought across the mouth-numbing buzz characteristic of the pepper. The addition of juniper in the second one seemed to round out the flavour, and give the vodka more substance for the floral and herbal notes to cling to. The Szechuan pepper and juniper one was very sippable, and I’m attempting to recreate it in the current batch.

Batch 2: What does Szechuan pepper do?

In my third set, I attempted a few combinations of flavours. While batches 1 and 2 were mostly about seeing how vodka infusion worked, and testing how specific ingredients responded, in batch 3 I made a few attempts at aiming for specific flavour concepts. I tried the following:

  • Szechuan tea (Szechuan pepper, oolong tea, rose buds) – This one worked quite well, although I wasn’t sure the Szechuan was necessary in this case. This became Teasing in the new batch.
  • “Gin” (Juniper berries, lime peel, coriander seeds) – This one was quite nice, although possibly overpowered by the lime peel. It became Gin-ass Gin in the new batch, adding angelica root as a fixative, and adjusting balances between the ingredients.
  • Pesto (Basil and pine nuts) – I wasn’t sure about this one, although it got positive feedback. It ended up tasting possibly too much like pesto. So… success? The pine nuts gave a nutty waxy flavour, and the basil leaned towards floral.
Batch 3: Combinations with purpose

This brings us to the most recent batch, which includes six infusions:

  • Teasing (Oolong, jasmine, mystery tea, rose buds) – A bunch of teas. An evolution of the Szechuan tea from the previous batch, but without Szechuan pepper.
  • Sunday Breakfast (Grapefruit, orange, lemon, lime peel, the contents of a Yorkshire tea bag, toasted walnuts) – I was originally going to try for a marmalade infusion (to appeal to my father who likes to make marmalade), but then decided to try to add the accompanying tea and toast flavours of breakfast. I’m hoping that the toasted walnuts will add a toast-like flavour, and not just a walnutty flavour. Given how much lime has dominated every infusion I’ve put it in so far, I suspect this one will at the very least be quite citrusy!
  • Gin-ass Gin (Juniper, coriander seeds, grapefruit peel, angelica root) – I saw a video saying that orris root was a key botanical in gin, as a fixative to ensure the flavours of juniper and other botanicals don’t fade. I wasn’t able to find any orris root, but I could find angelica root (often listed as an alternative). I only added a little bit, and am hoping it’s not too overpowering!
  • Má là (Szechuan pepper, chilli pepper, Goji berry) – This is an attempt to capture the numbing (má) and spicy (là) aspects of Szechuan cooking. I added goji berry as a sweet rounding element for balance. I suspect this infusion will be an experience to drink!
  • Szechuaniper (Szechuan pepper, juniper berry) – This one is just a straight forward attempt to recreate the Szechuan pepper and juniper infusion from the second batch, but taking better notes of amounts.
  • Holiday Spirit (Star anise, cloves, cinnamon, fennel, orange peel) – I hope that this infusion will take on some of the flavour of a mulled wine, or at least put its drinker in a festive mood.
Batch 4: Refinement