In creating some of my amari, I have found that brandy is an excellent base spirit. It is mellow, it adds a little grape component to the whole process, producing results that measure up well along established amari.
But I don’t want to keep buying brandy to use it for a different liqueur. Since grain alcohol is more economical, here is a faux brandy recipe that I have developed. Side by side, the real brandy will win out, but this faux brandy base isn’t too far off.
1. Steep one cup of Thompson seedless raisins in 2 cups of 95% or 75% grain alcohol between 1 and 2 weeks. (1 week is probably enough, but see what your nose tells you.)
2. Separate the resulting infusion and discard the raisins.
3. Dilute the strength of the infusion to no more than 40% ABV. Assuming very little evaporation, you would add 2-3/4 cups of distilled water to the 95% alcohol, or 2-1/4 cup of distilled water for the 75% alcohol.
4. Pour the dilution into an oak barrel for aging (or add about 2 tbsp of toasted oak chips).
5. Let sit for 2 – 6 weeks, shaking the mixture once each day.
6. Discard oak chips or pour from the barrel and voila! You’ve got a nice base spirit for a delicious amaro.