Distiller’s Workbook exercise 8 of 15

Chipotle Tequila

The aroma of smoke is important to many spirits, but adding it to distillates by traditional means can be incredibly complicated and not economically viable. A great readily available source of smoke aroma for nano-distillation is Chipotle peppers. Besides the aroma of smoke from how they are processed, Chipotle peppers have aromas from the Jalapeno peppers themselves which manifest as a charming vegetal character as well as other pungent aromas that converge with piquancy. This very simple exercise will allow a distiller to see when the aroma of smoke comes across in the still and provides insight into how many traditional distillates are cut.

The aroma of smoke from the Chipotle peppers can be an awesome complement to fruit brandies or to the agave spirits from Jalisco. During recipe trials, capturing the aroma of smoke from smoked paprika was also explored (which is recommended at anywhere less than 50 g/L and a cut at the same temperature as Chipotle peppers). The smoked paprika aroma relative to Chipotle is more one dimensional and somehow reminiscent of cigarettes or certain smoke expressions from the single malts of Scotland. Peat has long been a source of smoke aroma in Scottish whiskeys because it is used to stop germination of the grains and it is common to see measurements of phenolic compounds in parts per million (PPM) in whiskeys which imply their relative smokiness.

Unlike the other exercises which simply add the ingredients à la minute and boil them together to generate aroma extraction, Chipotle peppers benefit greatly from first infusing in the spirit for more than two days. A longer duration will cause no harm.


500 mL tequila, kirschwasser or slivovitz

20 g Chipotle peppers

250 mL water

Combine the spirits and peppers then infuse for at least two days before re-distilling. Distill together slowly on low reflux until the thermometer on the still reads 98°C. Going past 98°C may result in a cloudy distillate. The extra water is added to reduce the chances of pepper solids scorching on the bottom of the boiler. The temperature of 98°C may seem like a very high, but as high as 98°C we have been able to cut our distillate to as low and 80 proof while being crystal clear. Feel free to stop at a lower temperature if you feel the aroma is changing unfavorably due to development of inharmonious process volatiles.

Using your hydrometer re-cut the distillate to your desired proof (recommended 90-100).

smoked Agavoni

1 oz. Chipotle aromatized tequila

1 oz. Campari

1 oz. sweet vermouth

expressed orange peel


smoked slivovitz sour

1.5 oz. Chipotle aromatized slivovitz

.75 oz. lemon juice

.75 oz. simple syrup (1:1)

expressed lemon peel


Rocketry Cocktail

1.5 oz. gin

.75 oz. Chipotle aromatized kirschwasser

.75 oz. lemon juice

8 g. non aromatic white sugar

bar spoonful violette flower liqueur

expressed lemon peel

2 thoughts on “Distiller’s Workbook exercise 8 of 15

  1. With peated malts the spirit produced reflects a marked concentration of
    steam-volatile phenols, whose arrival in the spirit tends to concentrate
    towards the end of the distillation of the middle cut as the water to alcohol
    ratio alters with decreasing strength, favouring the entrainment of the phenols.
    To enhance the phenol concentration in the new spirit a lower strength cut
    point can be used, but not at the expense of producing a feinty spirit. A cut
    point of not less than 60 per cent ABV would be acceptable. – Whisky: Technology, Production, and Marketing

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