View Full Version : Odd bourbonic phenomenon..or, maybe it's just me..
OK, going out on a limb and perhaps exposing a bit of weirdness here - thank all the powers that be I took Linn's advice and put on extra pants....
Does anyone find the taste of bourbon to change throughout the course of a single bottle? For example, last night, I decided to revisit my bottle of Woodford Reserve, which to date I had not enjoyed. The first three glassses I had from this bottle lacked any trace of sweetness, and were rather medicinal with a touch of sawdust. The glass I had last night was nothing short of splendid. Sweet, full, robust, tingly, and not the slightest bit medicinal. I've had a couple others that I didn't like the first glass from the bottle, and then it gets better - including bourbons I generally like. The first glass from my current bottle of Old Whiskey River, for example, was flat, dry, and awful. Thought I'd gotten a bad bottle...then it's been fine ever since.
Am I having bourbon hallucinations, or has anyone else experienced this type of thing?
What you experienced is perfectly normal. It's the nature of the beast. My first experience with Kentucky Spirit was very similar. I bought a bottle, tried it a few times over the next week, liked it, but was not overly impressed. Several months passed before I went back to the same bottle and tried it again. WOW! What a difference. It turned into the best bourbon I had ever tasted. All whiskeys will change after the bottle has been opened. It's the air in the bottle that changes the whiskey. Sometimes the whiskey changes for the better, sometimes for the worse. I generally try to finish off a bottle within six months after opening it the first time. After a year, things can really start breaking down and the whiskey can become far less than what it was.
I've had that exact experience Aahzz with several different bourbons...usually those that are higher proof and/or contain a moderate to high percentage of rye.
I agree with Speedy John. Over time, the increasing volume of air in the bottle due to drinking the bourbon produces some sort of "oxidation mellowing" effect. But I'm no expert here....try doing a search here at the forum on "oxidation". There's a good thread called "WT and Oxidation" along with several other good posts.
It's good to know I'm not completely crazy.....
No.. not _completely_ crazy. As a newcomer to Bourbon i too have noticed this. Actually, it's not too different with cigars. Sometimes you smoke something which just doesn't "do it" for you the first time around. Then, after a few months in the humidor... wow! a great cigar emerges.
I've noticed this phenomenon with Cognacs as well.
I'm enjoying another glass of the Woodford Reserve even as we speak...whoda thunkit???
I would Kyle! Woodford Reserve is candy! Our bourbon is far more consistant than are we humans. It is we that change. The bourbon mearly laughs. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/ooo.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif
I now know what you mean when you say the WR is candy! The first 3 or 4 glasses I had, I detected no sweetness whatsoever, which is what turned me off to it...but now, WOW!!! I love this!!! BLEEEEEE, even! But, my pants are safe, 'cuz I just returned from martial arts class and took 'em off anyway http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/smile.gif .
I wonder if it would be a good idea then if you plan on not finishing a bottle for a long time to take a 750ml, keep half to drink and put half in an empty 375ml bottle with no air in it (so it will not 'oxidize'... )
maybe that would be a good 'experiment' if anyone cares about it that much.. see how the bottle with air in it vs. the one without taste after a while...
I have a bottle of Remy Martin XO cognac that has been open for 12 years. I need to taste it and report back on whether and how I think the taste has changed. Only problem is, I am in the habit of drinking bourbon, now. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/grin.gif
I scouted quite a while looking for a thread to place this post, and I think Linn's post created the perfect context.
In the past I have expressed my hope that others would display consistency in their bourbon likes and dislikes (thus enabling me to make prudent purchases based on their experience). I, on the other hand, have found myself to be the very model of fickleness. Even so, my latest bourbonic adventure involves a flip-flop that would be a credit to any politician. ("Read my lips, 'I did not have a relationship with that bourbon, Elijah Craig 12 y/o.' ")
In Chapter One I was just getting acquainted with a variety of bourbons after years of being under a spell that was cast upon me during a visit to Lynchburg back in the 70's. One of my early experiments was EC 12. It too was enchanting, in its own way. "What are those flavors?", I kept asking myself. "This stuff is absolutely fascinating!" It never occurred to me to ask myself whether I actually liked it.
In Chapter two I branched out considerably, probably way too fast to absorb all of the new taste sensations that I encountered. Nevertheless, a new favorite [family] emerged. Depending on just how much oomph I'm in the mood for, either Russell's Reserve or Kentucky Spirit became my absolute favorite, with RR well in the lead on a value-for-dollar basis. I know there are many other enjoyable bourbons, but for me those were the leaders of the pack.
In Chapter three I started revisiting previously opened bottles, trying to recall the nose and taste sensations before I opened the bottle in each case. I was amazed at how unreliable my recall was. One of the odder occurrences was my discovery that I liked Evan Williams Single Barrel, 1992 vintage, better than EC 12, which seemed to have become overpowering and just downright confusing. (In contrast, earlier I had dismissed EWSB as weak and lacking a distinctive character.)
Chapter four brings us up to the present time, but first a little side note. Until yesterday I had stuck with Russell's Reserve or WT101 on an almost daily basis for a week or more. Then yesterday I decided I wanted a change of pace. I happened to pick EWSB. At first taste I wondered whether I had grabbed the wrong bottle, perhaps Benchmark. Suddenly the words "weak and lacking a distinctive character" seemed apropos once again. How puzzling!
Today I was once again pondering my ever-changing taste, and it occurred to me that it might be interesting to try the EC 12 again. I did, and it was magnificent, full-bodied, spicy/minty, and a pleasantly peppery-hot finish (am I imagining a similarity to Knob Creek?).
Could that be the ghost of Elijah Craig that I hear, laughing tauntingly from afar? Or is it, as Linn suggested, the bourbon laughing, as it continuously beguiles me, while my taste and aroma receptors struggle futilely to find truth?
This is so true. Just the other night, while my wife and I waited for our friends, I ordered a Knob Creek neat at the restaurant bar. I have to say it was my best KC experience to date. I introduced about a quarter to a half straw full of my side ice water. Just a touch. It was wonderful. Most of the times I love it. Still other times I have found it too harsh. I had another and then one with dinner, which also tasted good. This brings up another interesting point. That is, normally I don't like to eat any thing while I drink my Bourbon. I find it really affects the taste. (Or is it effects. Who knows.) Particularly something spicy, like chips and salsa. This did not hold so true this time. I still had some left to enjoy after our meal.
On another occasion, I was bottle nipping and noticed how different things tasted with the after taste of another still present. It was interesting. It was during this little experiment, that I really noticed the leather smell of my Evan Williams 7 year old, which I had a glass of with ice. This was probably my best EW7 experience.
Sorry, Bird Brother, but I haven't been enjoying my 101 as much anymore. I've been into the KC and EW7. I'm also trying to finish my Ezra Brooks 90 proof, which is sometimes hard to do. But not to worry. I know The Bird shall fly again!
Thats odd, as I find EC12 to be one of the most consistant, & consistantly pleasing bourbons in my cabinet. When all my other tastes go awry, I turn to EC 12 & it rights the ship. . . .
Odd, indeed; or perhaps not.
Just remember, even though I'm chronologically one of the older people in this discussion group, as a bourbonian I'm still in my first semi-serious year. Perhaps it's not totally unexpected that at times my taste fluctuates wildly. (So far, my "right the ship" bourbon, if I have one, is... you guessed it, Russell's Reserve.)
If nothing else, my experience supports the wisdom of Linn's approach to tasting. Go through at least a bottle or so, and keep notes of every occasion. I think in one case he said he drank one whole bottle just to get acquainted and then started taking notes on the second bottle.
I on the other hand had the chutzpah to write one of my tastings in real time; I hit the send button just seconds after I finished my second glass. I wish I hadn't done that. My rapture at the time has since faded somewhat, as I have tried other top-shelf bourbons.
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