View Full Version : Warm bourbon

02-10-2003, 19:56
So I was at one of my favorite lunch spots the other day, and I spied
a bottle of pear brandy up amongst the respectable drinks. I thought to
myself, I haven't tried that stuff in years... perhaps I'll be adventurous today.

So I ask for it, and the girl says do I want it warm? Well, apparently that's
how people drink it, especially on cold days, I'm informed. The drill is that
they take your glass and since they've got boiling-hot water on tap for
tea and coffee, they rinse your glass out with hot water in order to get the
glass good and hot. And then they pour in the brandy.

Well, I can tell you right now that whatever they served me needed about five
years in a barrel instead of the zero it got... not only that, but it started tasting
better after it cooled back down to room temperature. (Watch for tasting
notes on StraightPearBrandy.com)

Well, later that afternoon, when I got home, I decided to try the same drill with
bourbon. As is my habit these days, I picked up Old Rip 15 YO (which is
a beautiful drink, I certainly must say) and I repeated what I saw the girl do
earlier that day.

And it was good.

Marvelous aroma, lots of complexity on the tongue, and warms you up on a
cold winter's night. I'll have to try it again a few times before I try to describe
exactly how the taste differs when bourbon is consumed warm.

I have yet to try this with a rye bourbon, mostly since I'm going through
a wheaters-only phase, but partly because I think that the rye would just
kick me in the teeth. Bourbon with rye has such a "big" taste that you can
ice it down with a whole handfill of ice cubes, and it's still got a lot to say.
I imagine that Rare Breed tastes like sweet hellfire when consumed warm.

Anyone else ever try warm bourbon?


(I tried to stay away from the phrase "hot bourbon" since "hot" is usually
a term for a cheap bourbon that tastes like it was mistaken
for a solvent waste container by an organic chemist.)

02-10-2003, 20:32
I haven't heated bourbon, but i have single-malts. That hot sensation is enhanced by the warming, but the aromas are intense. Chilling with ice smoothed out the drink, but the aromas were diminished. I have never added ice nor heated my bourbon. I like to drink bourbon neat right off the shelf. http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/images/icons/laugh.gif

02-11-2003, 02:21
Once I had a bourbon tasting and accidentally had this warm bourbon experience because the glasses happened to be pulled still warm from the dishwasher. Everyone agreed that the flavours really came through better that way. There was a fashion to heat oversized brandy snifters 50 years ago to warm the brandy. The glasses, held in a metal frame, were first lightly warmed over a small flame. This must have developed because people saw that cupping a thin snifter would warm the cognac and release the aromas. People who like cognac still speak of warming the brandy but they use their hand to do so and the use of the contraption I referred to seems largely to be ended (I recall one wine writer calling oversized brandy snifters vulgar, which is actually ridiculous because all practice in this area is either arbitrary or hopefully mandated by common sense; and why knock an idea just because it is novel or innovative? - very old school). So the same idea of warming can apply to bourbon, however, the flavours of good bourbon being so intense, in general it seems unnecessary to do this (and by the way using warm glasses does magnify the rye element of the bourbons using that small grain). Getting back to Rowan Creek, that is one bourbon which would benefit from being drunk in a thin snifter warmed lightly in the hand. However one must cut the 100 proof to at least 80 because otherwise the additional alcohol vapours released are unpleasant.


02-11-2003, 17:19
Yes, in the late 80's a gourmet from Sweden taught me to warm my cognac in its snifter over a cup of hot coffee. It was very good that way.


02-16-2003, 15:11
Thanks for a great new phrase..."sweet hellfire"...something to pocket for future use! Will have to try the warm glass technique, it does sound intrigueing.