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JMac72
05-25-2009, 11:18
I have read reviews of particular bottlings that sometimes contain comments to the effect that "bourbon so and so would be better at a higher proof"

So I am wondering if a higher ABV is directly linked to a richer flavour or is it due to something else entirely?

barturtle
05-25-2009, 11:47
I have read reviews of particular bottlings that sometimes contain comments to the effect that "bourbon so and so would be better at a higher proof"

So I am wondering if a higher ABV is directly linked to a richer flavour or is it due to something else entirely?

Well, let's say that barrel proof whiskey is lemonade and 80 proof whiskey is what remains in the glass after you drank the lemonade and then the ice melted.

Bourbon Geek
05-25-2009, 11:54
I think the answer is an unequivocal ... maybe ...

For some bourbons, the higher proof is somehow tied to it's specialness ... like Booker's ... too much water, and it looses it's specialness and starts to taste a little like Jim Beam.

For others, the higher proof just seems to get in the way ... and make it taste "alcoholy" ... a little water, and it opens up and tastes better.

When I taste, I always try it several ways ... full strength, just a splash of water, and cut to about 60 proof.

Mamba
05-26-2009, 01:17
There are two ways to increase the flavor of a whiskey after it's been distilled - 1. age it longer 2. bottle it at a higher proof.

Basic science at work there. The less you dilute the whiskey after the aging process is finished, the more intensely concentrated the end result will be. This will make a whiskey taste better up to a certain point, but where that point lies is a matter of subjective preference.

Barrel-strength whiskies are popular with enthusiasts not because they necessarily taste the best, but because they offer us a choice to discover at which proof WE think the whiskey tastes best. This also adds a scientific (i.e. respectable) element to the drinking ritual, which some people no doubt like. I can't prove it though!

ggilbertva
05-26-2009, 15:37
Mamba, your answer is spot on to JMac's question. The other factor in play is the fiscal element. I like higher proof whiskey's in order to play with the proof as you pointed out. You can't do that with an 80 proof whiskey. Nowhere to go but down. A higher proof whiskey can be stretched further than a lower proof whiskey thus making your investment more flexible.

Bourbon Geek
05-27-2009, 08:45
I would add a little bit here ...

With perhaps one notable exception, I think that bottling below 86 proof is a red flag to lack of quality... this means it has been chill filtered to remove the chill haze ... and because activated charcoal is rather non-selective ... when you take out the chill haze, you are removing color, taste and aroma as well ...

I agree that more age adds more taste ... just is it taste that you like or not ... If you like smoky, woody, bitter tasting tannins ... etc ... let it age forever. If not, find the spot where it tastes the best and stop there. I think too much is made of "older is better" ... sometimes, older is just older. I have tasted 18 year old Maker's Mark ... and in the words of Gary Regan ... "it was bloody awful"... and he usually likes older bourbon.

barturtle
05-27-2009, 09:02
I would add a little bit here ...

With perhaps one notable exception, I think that bottling below 86 proof is a red flag to lack of quality...

I'd be interested to see what your one would be.

I could see making arguments for I.W.Harper 15yo, Four Roses Yellow Label and Basil Hayden's...

Dr. François
05-27-2009, 19:10
Plus, don't forget:

Flavor is only one component of the bourbon-drinking experience. 60% alcohol has an amazingly different effect on the tongue, mouth, and throat than 40% alcohol. Stronger alcohol also evaporates at a different rate; I would assume this difference affects our perception of aroma.

I like barrel-proof bourbons for flavor, but I also like how they affect my entire body. They rock my whole head, not just my palate.

JMac72
05-27-2009, 20:10
Thanks for all the input. I see that ABV is only one factor in determining a bourbon's flavour.

Let me throw this out there then.....in terms of an overall flavour profile, which bourbon would benefit more from a higher ABV; one that has a high rye mashbill or one that is 'wheated'?

kickert
05-27-2009, 20:22
Thanks for all the input. I see that ABV is only one factor in determining a bourbon's flavour.

Let me throw this out there then.....in terms of an overall flavour profile, which bourbon would benefit more from a higher ABV; one that has a high rye mashbill or one that is 'wheated'?

One that is older

Bourbon Geek
05-28-2009, 05:21
Remember that alcohol is an astringent ... so as the proof goes up, the taste buds dry out and pucker... this effects our ability to taste drastically ... ever tried Everclear straight from the bottle ... you can't taste anything for about a day afterwards ...

At the higher proof range fo bourbons, this effect becomes more pronounced ... and therefore, becomes part of the tasting experience itself ... sounds like a little experimentation may be in order.

I prefer to keep all my taste buds in working order ...:grin:

Bourbon Geek
05-28-2009, 05:24
Thanks for all the input. I see that ABV is only one factor in determining a bourbon's flavour.

Let me throw this out there then.....in terms of an overall flavour profile, which bourbon would benefit more from a higher ABV; one that has a high rye mashbill or one that is 'wheated'?

I would have to say a high rye mash bill ... because the taste is more bold and can stand up to the proof. Wheat tends to be more delicate, and the taste degrades more easily with high proof ... However, as the age goes up, I think the taste of any bourbon has a better chance to stand up against higher proof ...

Josh
05-28-2009, 06:50
I would have to say a high rye mash bill ... because the taste is more bold and can stand up to the proof. Wheat tends to be more delicate, and the taste degrades more easily with high proof ... However, as the age goes up, I think the taste of any bourbon has a better chance to stand up against higher proof ...

This makes sense, but it doesn't account for the nearly universal (at least around here) popularity of OWA 107 and ORVW 107.

p_elliott
05-28-2009, 08:58
I would add a little bit here ...

With perhaps one notable exception, I think that bottling below 86 proof is a red flag to lack of quality... this means it has been chill filtered to remove the chill haze ... and because activated charcoal is rather non-selective ... when you take out the chill haze, you are removing color, taste and aroma as well ...

I agree that more age adds more taste ... just is it taste that you like or not ... If you like smoky, woody, bitter tasting tannins ... etc ... let it age forever. If not, find the spot where it tastes the best and stop there. I think too much is made of "older is better" ... sometimes, older is just older. I have tasted 18 year old Maker's Mark ... and in the words of Gary Regan ... "it was bloody awful"... and he usually likes older bourbon.

Basil Hayden's is Bourbon on training wheels it has no flavor, no kick no nothing it's just there.

p_elliott
05-28-2009, 09:05
This makes sense, but it doesn't account for the nearly universal (at least around here) popularity of OWA 107 and ORVW 107.
But they are aged to 7 years and 10 years so you have age and proof on their side.

JMac72
05-29-2009, 09:02
Basil Hayden's is Bourbon on training wheels it has no flavor, no kick no nothing it's just there.

I agree....I have tried it and was surprised how 'light' a bourbon it is. At the time I wondered if it was an 'oops lowered the ABV too much' mistake.....

Mamba
05-30-2009, 14:50
I agree....I have tried it and was surprised how 'light' a bourbon it is. At the time I wondered if it was an 'oops lowered the ABV too much' mistake.....

Try the Old Grand Dad 114 is you haven't already. Same recipe if I'm not mistaken, but a little younger and bottled at 114 proof. In this case, the higher proof improves the whiskey far more than the BH's additional aging. OGD114 is one of my favorites; the fact that its also affordable is icing on top.

JMac72
05-30-2009, 17:54
Same recipe?? so is Basil Hayden really an "oops"????? I meant my previous comment as a joke but I suppose a distillery would have to do something to recoup the loss.

This gets me thinking...what would a distillery do if a particular batch of bourbon was watered down too much. Could it be sold as a different product line?

kickert
05-30-2009, 18:46
Same recipe?? so is Basil Hayden really an "oops"????? I meant my previous comment as a joke but I suppose a distillery would have to do something to recoup the loss.

This gets me thinking...what would a distillery do if a particular batch of bourbon was watered down too much. Could it be sold as a different product line?

Distilleries are bound with very specific labels requirements. If Beam wanted to offer a 100 proof version of Beam, they would have to get a new label approved. Assuming the label was approved (which is a beurocratic process, but rarely gets denied) they could sell it without any problem.

That being said... if something got watered down too much all they would do would be add more high proof stuff.

ILLfarmboy
05-31-2009, 09:59
I would have to say a high rye mash bill ... because the taste is more bold and can stand up to the proof. Wheat tends to be more delicate, and the taste degrades more easily with high proof ... However, as the age goes up, I think the taste of any bourbon has a better chance to stand up against higher proof ...


This makes sense, but it doesn't account for the nearly universal (at least around here) popularity of OWA 107 and ORVW 107.

I would have to agree with "Bourbon Geek" (Dave) but the cut off or proof level would I think be somewhere north of 110. I find I enjoy Stagg and for that matter Handy more than WLW. Weller Antique and ORVW 107 are excellent pours. ORVW ten year 107 could, I think, be bottled a couple proof points higher with no harm done, but Weller Antique might loose something if it got the same treatment. With this in mind, I have tasted WLW side by side with Weller Antique, and with most years of WLW, I actually preferred Antique. Perhaps I should repeat the experiment with ORVW 107 since doing so would be a more apples and apples comparison, not quite but more so.