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How to smoke whisky a home

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Smoke and whisky is a uniquely delicious flavour pairing, and its harmony is no coincidence.

Wood smoke and whisky is a taste duo that makes total sense. That’s because whisky is finished in wood barrels that give it a deep earthy flavour, similar to the flavour that smoke adds.

But how exactly do you smoke whisky? And is it possible to smoke whisky at home without a smoker? You’ve seen bartenders playing with smoke on nights out, and liked your friend’s Instagram Stories of mysterious smoking cocktails…  and now you want to find out how it’s done.

Luckily, smoking whisky at home is easier than you think. It’s definitely possible to do it without a smoker and with minimal equipment. Stick around for a rundown of our favourite methods for adding smoke to scotch.

A few smoked whisky tips before we dive in

There are no rules on what kind of whisky you choose to infuse with smoke – you do you – but here’s some tips to get you started.

We prefer to go with more traditional blends such as Ballantine’s Finest over flavoured scotch like Ballantine’s Wild, so that the smoke flavour can really come through.

You can drink your smoked whisky however you like – on the rocks to savour the smokiness, or within a whisky cocktail to complement or contrast the smoky flavour. 

We also think the more traditional whisky cocktails, such as a classic Old Fashioned or Penicillin, really lend themselves to a smoky taste. They’re understated enough to be able to carry the added smokiness with ease.

Now let’s begin with the most simple method of smoking whisky, and nope – you won’t need a smoker for this.

Ballantines 12 Year Old Penicillin Drink

Penicillin

Prescribe yourself the Penicillin, a fiery Scotch classic to kick off your weekend in style. No doctors necessary.

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Smoking your whisky glass

Although simple, you’ll have to be careful with this method. We advise you to do it outside if possible, or else be ready for your smoke alarm to go off!

Build a mini bonfire on top of a nonflammable surface using whatever you like, such as flavoured wood chips and something to add extra flavour like a stick of cinnamon and a few herb sprigs. 

Then light your fire with a match or lighter, and use an empty upturned glass to catch the smoke. We recommend using a jam jar so that you can put a lid on your smoke and keep it contained for longer. 

Add your whisky of choice to the jar quickly, so that you don’t lose all your smoke, and then put the lid back on and give it a good swirl.

Next, simply pour your smoky whisky into a glass with ice, or use it to make a scotch cocktail of your choice. It’s that easy. 

This method of smoking whisky at home can be done by total novices and will make a great party activity.

Smoking whisky on your grill or bbq

Did you know that you can use your gas grill or simple kettle style BBQ to smoke whisky at home? This will add a deeper smoke flavour to scotch compared to the simple glass method, so it’s a good one to try if you’re really partial to smoky whisky.

We recommend getting a smoking tube or box to add your smoke source too, as this will make the process a lot easier. This tube will sit in the bottom of your grill or bbq and infuse all that smoky goodness into your scotch. 

Feel free to experiment with what you put in your tube or box. There’s tons available online, including fruity wood chips and all different types of wood such as oak, beech and hickory to add a delicious earthiness to your scotch.

Try pairing Ballantine’s 7 American Barrel with smoked oak wood chips to really capitalise on the sweet oak flavours in the whisky – it’s an ultimate smoke and whisky flavour combo.

Once you’ve ignited your fuel of choice, place it in the bottom of your grill or barbecue. Pour your scotch into an aluminium pan or tray and put it on top of another pan of ice to prevent the temperature from rising too much (as this can have a negative effect on the flavour of your scotch). 

Then cover and leave it to do its thing for as long as you like – the longer you leave it, the smokier your whisky will be. Try for around half an hour first and see what you think.

Once you’re happy with how your smoked whisky tastes, pour it back into the bottle ready to be used in your favourite whisky drinks.

You could also go one step further and smoke some garnishes such as lemon and orange peel on the grill while you’re at it.

Cold smoking whisky with a cocktail smoking gun

Our final method of how to smoke whisky is by using a special cocktail smoking gun. This is a handheld smoker that you’ve probably seen at the bar – it uses “cold smoking”, so it’s ideal for busy public environments.

The smoking gun has a chamber that you load with your wood chips of choice, plus any other extras to add more flavour. 

Smoke will erupt from the tube attached to the gun once you ignite your smoking fuel, and this tube can be placed inside a cocktail shaker, a half bottle of whisky, a glass, or whatever whisky apparatus you like.

The smoking gun is a seriously cool piece of kit to add to your at home bar cart, and would definitely be something to get your friends talking. But we think it’s wise to try out the cheaper methods before you invest.

So there you have it – smoking whisky at home sounds fancy but it’s relatively easy and a lot of fun. Get creative and ignite a new passion for smoking whisky at home with Ballantine’s.

Eager for more? Check out our handy Whisky Guide for the inside scoop on scotch, and get more ideas on how to make better cocktails at home for legendary house parties.

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