Homemade Apple Bourbon

Flavoured spirits seem to be very much the trend du jour as the drinks market attempts to capitalise on the popularity yet heavily congested and competitive industry. Whiskey and gin have seen a huge resurgence in recent times and as is usual in product life cycles companies are attempting any way to diversify their portfolio while attempting to cash in on a new niche market. Some have added an inventive approach and flavour profile to cocktail making such as Tanqueray Flor de Sevilla Gin, or indeed long standing classic combinations such as sloe, with Bertha’s Revenge making a very worthwhile one. And although not a heavily spirit based drink Giffard’s Banane Du Bresil is also worth a mention here, with it’s slow macerated, deliciously flambéed banana flavour. It’s a real favourite of mine and a wonderful addition to your cocktail bar. To be honest however, most others should have been confined to the bin at the concept meetings. Cinnamon, espresso, toffee, rhubarb, or even just “pink” (who knew that was a flavour?) are just some of the offerings being thrown about in what is a seemingly endless list of what will be launched next. As already mentioned however, there is, and should always be room in your drinks cabinet for something different and here it is, step forward Apple Bourbon. A no brainer in flavour pairing, the mildly acidic sweetness of the apples combined with the rich, oaky, smooth, caramel flavours retrieved from most decent bourbons makes for a match made in heaven. The best part? This is incredibly easy to make at home, with minimal ingredients but with a result that belies its effort (or lack thereof)

This was borne from the experience of a delectable apple pie old fashioned I had some years back in Kai Restaurant in Galway and the yearning to not throw away a glut of apple peels and cores leftover from a batch of tomato and apple chutney. All you need here is a bottle of bourbon, apples (or leftover peels and cores), a cinnamon stick and a couple of cloves.  The brand of bourbon is not incredibly important but you certainly don’t need to be using anything top-shelf. I’ve made this very successfully with a bottle of regular Jim Beam. In terms of the apples you are looking for something with a little bit of sweetness such as Honeycrunch (aka Honeycrisp) or Pink Ladies. Steer away from a variety that is too crisp and acidic such as Granny Smith, the sourness not lending the correct profile you want as your outcome. However if you are using just the skins you could get away with the peels of a bramley or two, their distint “appleyness” adding to the overall end result. Beyond that, all you need is a little time, but more importantly the patience to not try to drink it before it’s ready.


  • One 70cl bottle of bourbon
  • 4 sweet apples (See note above) skins on, cut into large chunks (or the peels and cores of about 1kg of apples)
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick


  1. Place all the ingredients into a large Kilner or clip-top jar and top up with the bottle of bourbon.
  2. Store in a cool, dry place for about 2 weeks, removing the cloves and cinnamon stick after a day or two
  3. Strain and bottle. Enjoy

Note: Some apple sediment may appear in the bottle. To remove this strain through muslin once or twice as required and re-bottle.

*Further Note* I was not asked, paid, or remunerated in any way for the inclusion of products or the mention of establishments in this post. As always the opinions expressed within are entirely my own based upon my own experience

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