View Full Version : re-New from Wisconsin

07-14-2009, 03:43
As you can see I've been a member for a few years but not at all active for a long time. I'll be sure to check back more often!

I was a newbie then, I still consider myself quite the noob even now. I don't embibe often so I haven't tried too many different things. And it can be difficult to get a good handle on things when there are long gaps between tastings. Too often, my habit is to compare a new product with the last one I just had, rather than being truly objective.

My favorites lately are Rare Breed (I like strong), Evan Williams SB (much complex flavor) JD Single Barrel... but no matter how many I try, I can't fall out of love with Jim Beam Sour Mash Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

There's one nagging problem I've been unable to solve. When I first pour into the glass, I get a bit of a smell that's like fingernail polish. This is with any whiskey I pour. After it airs out a bit, the polish smell goes away and I smell only the whiskey.

I've had a few different theories. For a long time, the only place to store my liquor was on a high open shelf in the kitchen. I've learned this isn't smart. Its not too far from the stove and I'm sure it gets hot-then-cool. I've moved the storage area to a much better place.

My wife washes everything in a dish washer, so I bought a few glasses that are not allowed in there. All that ever touches them is liquor and cool or lukewarm tap water, not softened water.

But then I realized I dry them with a towel... maybe detergent, or dryer sheet wax? Switched to paper towels for a while, but as of now only air dry.

I've elimanated everything except liquor, water, ice, air and my lips. The problem persists. My last guess is that its the glass itself. Its a set of four tumblers from a department store. I love the size/shape/weight. They don't feel obviously cheap, but they were a really good price.

Is it just bad glass?

The extent of the problem is that I have to plan ahead by about 10 minutes. The wait is shortened if I twirl the drink around a few times.

I wondered if I just got used to the smell and didn't notice it, or if the smell really goes away after a few minutes. So my wife has helped me out. She will pour, then smell, and she can smell it. I go nowhere near it for a good 20 minutes. When I approach the glass I don't smell the polish smell at all.

What's odd is that our everyday glasses, when used for whiskey, don't get the fingernail polish smell at all. But these constantly go into the dishwasher, which I don't like with whiskey for other yucky tastes.

Any ideas?

07-14-2009, 06:46
Try changing whiskeys. I get a strong acetone smell from JD, but not from GD. Consequently my choice of Tennessee whiskey is GD (plus I prefer the flavor). Rare breed has a very slight trace of it, but I had to look for it. I don't drink enough EW SB to know about that one. I get none from FR or BT products. As to wheaters, I don't get it on MM but I do on PVW products (which I love) but it leaves quickly. I'm about as far as one can get from an expert but that's the world the way I see it, let us know what you find out.

07-14-2009, 07:09
Are you sure what your smelling isn't the intense alcohol from a fresh poured whiskey? The alcohol is always intense when freshly poured whiskey especially in a whiskey glass. It shouldn't take 10 or 20 min to go away though just a min or two. But then again you said you like high proof whiskey are you getting this from your Jack Daniels it's only 80 proof? If it bothers you try using a rocks glass instead of a whiskey glass. As a whiskey glass is funneling the vapors directly towards your nose a rocks glass won't.

07-14-2009, 08:38
I too often smell that acetone smell at first, but I figure it's just my nose's interpretation of strong alcohol. It doesn't impede my enjoyment.

07-14-2009, 23:47
Rewelcome to SB. I think Paul is onto something with what you are smelling is the fresh alcohol vapors from the pour. You say this last up to 20 minutes so next time pour yourself your normal amount into your standard glass and take a big whif then pour it into another glass and repeat and then repeat with another glass.
This should show that the glass is not imparting anything into the whiskey The type of glass has a lot to do with how the alcohol and other flavors reach the nose.

07-15-2009, 01:19
Thanks much for all the help. One detail I forgot is that I don't smell it at all from the bottle, only once it hits the glass.

I did say that I don't smell it when I pour into a different glass, which has gone through a dishwasher. I tried again, and I was wrong on that. I do smell the acetone smell, but its less pronounced, maybe because I'm also smelling just a slight hint of dishwasher residue.

Back to whiskey. The glass I use slants outward towards the top. I know that what I'm smelling is distinct from "strong alcohol." That is, unless there's a property in alcohol that needs to release.

If its not the material that makes up the glass, I wonder if it may be where I buy my alcohol. Its a big store with a huge selection, but they may not have the best practices for rotation and storage. Especially storage. For example, much of the time their bags of ice cubes are more of a solid block from getting melty then refrozen, that sort of thing.

Lastly, I've NEVER noticed this acetone smell anywhere else but at home.

Well, thanks again to all. I've seen discussion on SB about specific glassware recommendations. I'll try them out, and buy some bourbon from a more high class store and see if that helps.

07-15-2009, 13:29
Hola from another cheesehead (just down the road a piece)...

Where do you usually shop? I usually go to Woodman's, Steve's (both Mineral Point Rd. and PD) or Liquor Town...never had "off" notes from any whiskey I've bought from those places, nor from Everett's in South Beloit.

Did you get any of the EWSB '99 that Steve's barrel-selected?

Welcome back, BTW! :)

07-15-2009, 14:25
Welcome back Dirk. Glad to see you posting again. Looks like B3Nut has helped you some with where to shop. As far as glassware goes, you might want to try a Glencairn and/or a small rocks glass. Maybe that could make a difference. Keep posting, and let us know how it goes. Joe

07-15-2009, 22:29
Thanks again to all for taking the time to help, and for the warm welcome.

B3Nut - I shop mostly at Woodman's. The selection and prices are better than average, but I get the feeling that the place pinches pennies where it can. They move tons of product through there, the place is always busy. So they may skimp on bargaining for cheaper products, as well as skimp on the labor needed to run a tight ship and take good care of the merchandise.

Now I am going to feel a little dumb with what I have to say next. Just remember that you have stumbled into the Newbie Zone.

Getting engaged in this discussion caused me to scrutinize the problem a bit more than I have in the past. I opened a bottle of Evan Williams, put the opening up to my nose, and inhaled. Really all I smelled was whiskey.

But then I inhaled very very deeply, sniffing harder than I had ever done with just the bottle. Bingo, I smelled that acetone smell. It took a bigger deeper sniff to pick it up, but it was there in the bottle.

Granted that price doesn't always indicate quality, I believe that you can get some pretty enjoyable drink for under $40. At the same time, you do get what you pay for. As a parallel, you gotta pay a few extra bucks if you want good wine without sulfites.

Maybe this chemical smell is inherent in whiskeys in the $40> range. Maybe my nose is especially sensitive to this one particular smell.

It has really helped me to run this by you guys. And I appreciate the welcome of having this question taken seriously. It helps to know that no one here suspects that its something to do with the material of the glass itself. At this point its good to know that mostly likely there's nothing to do about it. Let stand and an occasional swirl for ten minutes or so before drinking solves the problem.

08-31-2009, 00:38
I'm starting to believe this acetone smell is related to certain whiskeys.

For starters, I'm really sure its an odor that's more than just the alcohol, no matter how strong the drink. My wife agrees, it smells a lot like fingernail polish. Its not as bad as it seems, its not even the most dominant part of the smell, there are other scents that relate to good flavors.

Next, my wife, a scotch drinker, swears she never smells it in her scotch. I checked it out, she's right. Even her less expensive selections (Johnny Red Label, Black and White, etc) are free of acetone. Also, I've recently gotten all the way through a couple bottles of Herradura Anejo tequila... no acetone smell at all.

My last purchase was EW (basic... is that what's referred to as black label?) and there seemed to be less acetone smell than the EW SB I have. I still like the SB better than the basic EW, once the smell is gone. Actually, EW SB is one of my new faves. Lots of layers of flavor to that one.

I re-read this thread and stu's post stood out. Especially since I've made the discoveries with my wife's scotch and the Herradura.

I also may have over played the length of time it takes for the bad smell to leave. On closer inspection, the nail polish smell is gone in just a few minutes. But it seems I like my drink more if it does aerate for more than ten minutes.

Along those lines, I also started pouring one deeper drink instead of 2-3 small ones. It seems to provide more complexity as I progress through the drink. No ice or water involved. I notice the bottom of the drink tastes different from the first sips. Usually more licorice towards the bottom.

08-31-2009, 14:32
Dirk, I've only noticed the acetone taste in a few high rye recipe bourbons. For some reason it seems to me that the high rye spiceyness, is sometimes accompanied by an acetone/nail polish taste. Joe

PS. By the way, in regards to bourbon, cigars, and jazz. It don't get no better than that Vern. :grin: Cheers. Joe

09-01-2009, 18:13
By the way, in regards to bourbon, cigars, and jazz. It don't get no better than that Vern. :grin: Cheers. Joe

Well, I don't smoke cigars--I have enough vices at the moment--but you're sure as hell right about the bourbon and jazz combo. I played a great disc tonight called "Live At Minton's" which features Johnny Griffin and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis on a set of Monk covers. Wow! Those guys were amazing sax players, and the more I got into the disc, the more VOB went down the hatch. Next up--Bill Evans and Tony Bennett. Could be a great night!

09-01-2009, 18:20
Well, I don't smoke cigars--I have enough vices at the moment--but you're sure as hell right about the bourbon and jazz combo. I played a great disc tonight called "Live At Minton's" which features Johnny Griffin and Eddie "Lockjaw" Davis on a set of Monk covers. Wow! Those guys were amazing sax players, and the more I got into the disc, the more VOB went down the hatch. Next up--Bill Evans and Tony Bennett. Could be a great night!

I planned on abstaining from bourbon tonight, but Bill Evans and Tony Bennett! Makes me want to put some jazz on and have a pour. Joe

09-08-2009, 17:19
I don't smoke cigars either, but I'm definitely down with a few good pours of bourbon with some good jazz records! :D Blanton's goes great with old Miles. WT101 is superb with Jimmy Smith. ;)

09-08-2009, 20:53
I think what you are smelling is the ethers from the alcohol. these should evaporate off. I will usually wait 5 minutes from pour to first sip. also Bourbon does go well with Jazz or Blues. Blue Mitchell sextet, Barcode Trio, the Roy Hargrove quintet, Charlie Haden. On the blues side John Lee Hooker is hard to beat. Also glad to have another Wisconsin boy on the forum.