Bourbon Whiskey Vanilla Bean Cold Process Soap

I’m sure you’ve heard of beer soap, but did you know that you can add hard liquors and spirits to soap? It can be a bit tricky because of the alcohol, but here is how I do it.

First of all, I don’t make a lye solution with liquor. Usually when you make beer soap, you boil the beer to get rid of the alcohol and the carbonation. You don’t ever want to make a lye solution with liquor and add it to your soap. You’ll almost always get an instant seize.

Some liquors have such a high alcohol content, that if you boiled them, you would end up with very little liquid to soap. Liquors can also be quite expensive, so using them in high quantities in soap would raise your costs.

So I simply add liquor at .5 oz. per pound of oils to thinly traced soap. It will make your soap move fast, so be aware of that. Liquor can also make your soap heat up while in the mold because of the sugar content. Your soap will always go through gel phase. Soap cool.

Let’s make a bourbon soap!

Bourbon Soap

Bourbon Whiskey Vanilla Bean Cold Process Soap Recipe

Coconut Oil – 12.5 oz.
Shea Butter – 2 oz.
Sunflower Oil – 2 oz.
Avocado Oil – 2.5 oz.
Olive Oil – 15 oz.

Sodium Hydroxide – 4.8 oz.
Distilled Water – 9 oz.

Bourbon – 1 oz.
Vanilla Bean Powder – 2 tablespoons

Juniper Essential Oil – .5 oz.
Almond Essential Oil – .5 oz.
Ylang Ylang Essential Oil – .5 oz.
Grapefruit Essential Oil – 1 oz.

Bramble Berry Tall 12” Silicone Loaf Mold

Safety Warning: This recipe is for soapmakers who have a basic knowledge of the soapmaking process and know the correct safety procedures to use when handling lye. If you are new to soapmaking, visit our beginner instructions. Be sure to wear safety goggles and gloves while soaping.

Step 1 – Make your lye solution and set aside to cool down.

Step 2 – Weigh the coconut oil and shea butter into a microwave container. Melt, just until melted.

Step 3 – Add the liquid oils to the melted oils. This helps to cool the temperature down.

Step 4 – Add the vanilla bean powder and essential oils to the base oils.


Step 5 – Once the oils and lye are cooled to under 90 degrees F, pour the lye into the oils and emulsify.



Step 6 – Add the bourbon and mix by hand.



Step 7 – It will start to thicken! Pour into your mold quickly.



Step 8 – Tease the top if you want peaky tops. Sprinkle with vanilla bean powder.



Step 9 – Let sit overnight to saponify.

It will probably gel because of the sugars in the alcohol.


Step 10 – The next day, unmold and cut your soap.

Step 11 – Cure for a minimum of 4 weeks.


If you find that this soap gets away from you and seizes, simply dump it into a crockpot and hot process it.

Happy Soaping!

-Amanda Gail

About the Author:

I am a soapmaker, author and blogger! I started blogging in 2008, sharing soap recipes, design tutorials and publishing articles on various topics of soapmaking.


  1. Danielle Dica July 14, 2018 at 11:44 am - Reply

    do i need to place your soap on the freezer at all to in case of volcano happening.i did for 3 hours.then took it out and let it sit til next day.l I cut my soap next day.been 3 weeks still kind soft.if I was to just insulted the soap and let sit. would I still have to worry if a volcano would happen.

  2. Lauren June 26, 2018 at 8:21 pm - Reply

    So when you add the bourbon at trace you don’t need to worry about the no need to boil. Is this the same with beer, if added at trace? Thanks!

  3. Candace Flowers May 19, 2017 at 1:03 pm - Reply

    If you hot process the whiskey soap because it seizes it does it cure for the same amount of time?

    • Amanda Gail May 20, 2017 at 4:51 pm - Reply

      Yes, I would still cure for 3-4 weeks. 🙂

  4. Lisa Hannegan April 6, 2017 at 2:45 pm - Reply

    can you tell me where I can purchase Almond essential oil. Thank you so much. Love trying different essential oils,

  5. Anne-Marie Faiola December 23, 2015 at 1:53 pm - Reply

    I love the idea of bourbon whiskey soap! These bars could make the perfect present for the holidays. Adding the vanilla bean powder makes these bars look so fancy. =)

  6. Robin December 12, 2015 at 11:23 pm - Reply

    Being a soap maker from Kentucky I have been making bourbon soap for several years, it is a wonderful novelty soap. It sells well even though the bourbon scent doesn’t usually linger after the cure. Some people say they can smell it, though I’m not sure if they actually smell do or if it’s the power of suggestion.

  7. linda December 9, 2015 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Did you decrease your water by the amount of the liqour…without the he bourbon would you have used 10 Oz of water? Could you oven process this right away?

    • Amanda Gail December 9, 2015 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      I don’t usually oven process it…so not sure. It gelled because of the sugar heating things up.

  8. linda December 9, 2015 at 4:55 pm - Reply

    Did you decrease your water by the amount of the liqour…without the he bourbon would you have used 10 Oz of water? Could you oven process this right away?

    • Amanda Gail December 9, 2015 at 7:16 pm - Reply

      I usually multiply my lye amount by 2 to give me the water amount. In this recipe:
      4.8 lye x 2 = 9.6 oz water

      I did mean to take the 1 oz of bourbon away from the water amount, but that would have made my water amount 8.6 oz… I used 9 oz. So just a bit over what I normally would have used.

      But typically yes, you would take away from your regular water amount.

  9. Diana December 9, 2015 at 4:22 pm - Reply

    Hi Amanda. What is the therapeutic value of bourbon?

    • Amanda Gail December 9, 2015 at 7:13 pm - Reply

      I wouldn’t say that bourbon has any therapeutic value. 🙂

      Bourbon does have sugar, which boosts lather. It makes a fun novelty soap.

  10. Nichelle December 6, 2015 at 10:08 pm - Reply

    What does the beer do for the soap ? Does it produce more bubbles etc.?

    • Amanda Gail December 7, 2015 at 10:08 am - Reply

      The sugar in beer does increase lather. Beer also contains hops and other nutrients that are good on the skin. Beer soap is also simply a novelty that sells well.

  11. Andy December 6, 2015 at 9:36 pm - Reply

    YESSS….I have been waiting for this,but didn’t know how to do it. It always turned out bad? It is on now…lol

  12. Cee December 6, 2015 at 7:21 pm - Reply

    Does the smell of the bourbon fragrance come through?

    • Amanda Gail December 7, 2015 at 10:10 am - Reply

      I’m not sure because I scented with essential oils. It would be cool to make one unscented to see if it does. I bet just a hint does…similar to beer soap.

  13. Athena December 6, 2015 at 7:11 pm - Reply

    THANK YOU! I’ve been wanting to make a batch and “Irish” it up a bit! I’ve been too afraid ur would just seize on me, so this is such good info. Thanks Amanda! 🙂

  14. Pat Potter December 6, 2015 at 4:04 pm - Reply

    Amanda, What could I substitute for the shea butter? This looks like an awesome recipe to try….. right after I try wine soap. LOL

    • Amanda Gail December 6, 2015 at 4:25 pm - Reply

      You could substitute any other butter, so mango, cocoa, kokum, sal…etc.

  15. Jane December 6, 2015 at 1:04 pm - Reply

    I would love to try this recipe; where do you buy your vanilla bean powder?

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