How to wax dip your own bottles, Maker's Mark style!
Difficulty Rating: 7/10 - this one’s only got a few ingredients, but practice makes perfect and you’ll likely have to experiment a few times before you get it right.
Time Taken: 20-30 minutes
Serves: this method will be enough to dip between 8-10 bottles, depending on how much you use.
Have you ever seen, or even better, cracked open the famous red wax that sits atop a bottle of Maker’s Mark Kentucky Bourbon? I can tell you that I have, and while the whiskey that’s inside is some of the best in the business, this post is all about how to emulate the unique dipped wax that seals it. In an homage to its small batch tradition and longstanding history, each and every bottle that leaves the production line at Maker’s gets hand-dipped in the signature red wax, meaning no two bottles are the same.It always fascinated me, and after ageing some of my own bourbon in an oak barrel, I thought what better way to give my homemade moonshine a personal finish than to hand-dip it in wax? It’s also a great way to finish homemade beers, bottles of wine, etc., and it’s simpler than you might think. Read on for more...
You will need...
10 standard Crayola wax crayons, colour is up to you!
25 mini glue sticks
1 washed, emptied aluminum can (an emptied soup can works great, but remember to remove the paper label)
A gas stove/burner or oven
Bottles to dip
The first order is to prep your wax and bottles, which takes the form of two very simple steps:
Firstly, remove all of the paper from your wax crayons. The easiest way to do this is not to peel them, but to run a knife lengthways down the back of the crayon, cutting through the paper and just into the wax itself. You’ll then be able to pull away the entire paper in one or two goes. Discard the paper, and put all your crayons to one side.
Next, you’ll need to prep your bottles, in order to give you a way to tear the wax after it’s set and you’re ready to consume your tasty beverage.
NOTE: if it’s beer you’re dipping, you might be able to skip this step, given you’ll be able to use a bottle opener.
Cut off a piece of filament tape about 5cm/2in long, or enough to go around the neck of the bottle at least 1.5 times. Then, hold the tape at both ends (see picture), and fold it in half lengthways, giving you a run of tape that is 50% sticky and 50% doubled over itself. Carefully run it around the neck of the bottle, near the top but not quite at the top, sealing as you go along. Once you reach the end of the tap, and it’s secure on the bottle, double the last little piece back on itself, and make sure it sticks out from the side of the bottle.
Now we’re ready to dip!
Place all of your glue sticks into your tin can, and place it over a gas burner on the very lowest heat you can achieve. Slowly, but surely, after 10-15 minutes, the glue will melt down to a gloopy, thick, sticky mess. It will be incredibly hot, so please don’t touch it.
Once it reaches this state, add in your crayons. These will melt much more quickly given the heat of the glue and their consistency,, so have something to stir with nearby right away. NOTE:The key to achieving the desired consistency is using a 2.5:1 glue sticks to crayons ratio; people have had success with 2:1 and 3:1, but there’s no real correct answer. Either way, if you want to make more or less dipping wax, just adjust according to the ratio.
Keep stirring until the wax is fully incorporated into the glue, and there are no lumps. You should be aiming for a consistency that is runny and glossy, not too watery and not too think - if it’s too watery, add more glue, and if it’s too thick, add a bit more wax.
If you’re happy with the colour, and the consistency is right, kill the heat and transfer your can to a covered, heatproof surface, and leave it to cool for two minutes.
After the wax has had two minutes to cool off, we’re ready to go. Take your bottle, and submerge lid/head down into the wax on a level (no tilting!) for three seconds. Make sure you’ve fully covered the tape, but don’t submerge it so far that it has nowhere to run!
Then, slowly lift it out of the wax, turning the bottle as you rotate it to an upright position (see video coming soon). Quickly, but carefully “slam” it down onto your surface, and let the wax slowly drip down the sides of the bottle
You’re now done, and given how quickly the wax dries, any touches you make on the wax will likely be there for good, so resist the temptation to touch it for a good ten minutes
Once that time has passed and the wax has cooled, you’re all set. Congratulations on dipping your very own wax bottles, just like the fine folks in Loretto, Kentucky. Go forth, and submerge!