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View Full Version : Breathing and open Bottles



farmboy238
02-08-2011, 05:11
I had no idea that bourbon needed to breathe to open up and show "more" character. When I first opened The OWA I had to Concentrate to identify the different notes and the nose was strongly alcohol. You could pick up the undertones but that's what they were, undertones. After it sat opened a week or two (and almost empty, damnit) it seemed to , for lack of a better description, become"more" of itself and bloom like a rose! To be honest I didn't enjoy it that much new and I was disappointed in it. It seems to get bettter the longer it's open. Now, far from being disappointed, I am savoring every drop. I've known a few Frencch red wines that needed to be decanted to be enjoyed to their fullest potential but I did not realize that "oxidation" affected Bourbon to this extent. I noticed the same thing with a bottle of EWSB just not to the same extent. How does proof affect this? I did not notice this with Pappy 15. Does Boubon get "better" with decanting?

Brisko
02-08-2011, 05:40
I don't know if decanting is the solution but I've said before that virtually every whiskey (bourbon, rye, scotch) I've opened has benefited from breathing time. The only exception was a bottle of Redbreast 12 that went downhill over the course of a month.

It's usually pretty subtle... good whiskey settles in and gets better. But the most notable examples for me have been a bottle of OWA 107 (NAS), two bottles of Highland Park 12 y/o, EWSB 2000, and a bottle of 10 y/o oak aged slivovitz. The OWA, one HP, and the Slivovitz all had some pretty harsh notes that were really hard to get past. But a month or two really evened them out. The other Highland Park went from good to frankly amazing, and the EWSB, while it started out good, didn't really come in to its own until it was almost gone.

In terms of strength-- the above examples were 53.5, 43, 43.3, and 50% abv-- so I'm not sure how it plays a role, if any.

Gillman
02-08-2011, 08:58
I agree with these conclusions. It may be oxidation is occurring. It may be that some co-products of fermentation in the whiskey which come over with the ethanol (e.g., acids, aldehydes, higher alcohols) are vaporising. Some of the ethanol alcohol albeit ever so little may lift off too. This will affect palate in subtle ways. If I recall correctly, in Gerald Carson's The Social History of Bourbon, a story is recounted that 1800's whiskey salesmen would compare their brand to a competitor's by ensuring theirs had time to sit in the open for at least 20 minutes. True, the vaporising starts once white dog is off the still. But it is an ongoing process and given that most whiskey is not terribly old, there is likely additional benefit gained from a continuation of the process once the genie is out of the bottle so to speak.

Gary

p_elliott
02-08-2011, 09:51
It has been said on here repeatedly that wheated bourbons seem to get the most from time with air.

squire
02-08-2011, 16:23
If I am tasting for evaluation and notes I will leave the whisky in an open glass for 20 minutes or so.

dmarkle
02-08-2011, 19:05
I agree with these conclusions. It may be oxidation is occurring. It may be that some co-products of fermentation in the whiskey which come over with the ethanol (e.g., acids, aldehydes, higher alcohols) are vaporising. Some of the ethanol alcohol albeit ever so little may lift off too.
Gary

Agreed. When I open a new bottle, again, especially with the wheaters and/or the higher proof expressions, there's a whiff that almost smells like "pure" alcohol of some sort -- almost like rubbing alcohol -- and IMO whatever this volatile substance(s) is/are they certainly get in the way of the other notes. Ah, if I only were in Organic Chemistry again, I'd bring a new bottle of OWA into the lab and run it through the chromatograph and just tell you... :)

T Comp
02-08-2011, 19:42
I notice some small but perceptible changes in a poured whiskey over the time spent in my glass, usually 45 minutes per 45 ml. What I haven't noticed is any difference because of the time opened or level in the bottle. Other than a PVW 20 that was approaching the 2 year mark when it gave up its last, the first pour and last pour have been the same to me. I have blind tasted last pours (about 6 months opened) against newly opened first pours of Binny's Weller 12 and Binny's #3 FRSB and also found no difference.

nblair
02-08-2011, 20:43
I notice some small but perceptible changes in a poured whiskey over the time spent in my glass, usually 45 minutes per 45 ml. What I haven't noticed is any difference because of the time opened or level in the bottle. Other than a PVW 20 that was approaching the 2 year mark when it gave up its last, the first pour and last pour have been the same to me. I have blind tasted last pours (about 6 months opened) against newly opened first pours of Binny's Weller 12 and Binny's #3 FRSB and also found no difference.


Usually the only time I can tell a difference is if it's a strong bourbon, maybe over 105 proof or so. Have you had the same experience with OGD114, OWA, and ORVW 10/107? Those are really the only three I've noticed so far.

T Comp
02-09-2011, 09:10
Usually the only time I can tell a difference is if it's a strong bourbon, maybe over 105 proof or so. Have you had the same experience with OGD114, OWA, and ORVW 10/107? Those are really the only three I've noticed so far.

I have also noticed changes, from time in the drinking glass, with some dusties particularly a 70's Old Crow that I recall detailing on BE. Dusty Old Forester also takes on more citrus notes with additional time. I haven't noticed any changes with Old Fitzgerald DSP 16 other than the initial blow off of alcohol which occurs in a few seconds. Again though my main point, as it pertains to me and my less than uber nose and tongue cells, is not experiencing the phenomena some relate to the whiskey changing, from just being opened and oxygenated in the bottle, if the bottle is drunk within a year and a half or so.

farmboy238
02-09-2011, 09:20
With some of the Horsepower on this forum I'm sure someone knows the scientific reasons behind this. It will, in no way, affect how much I enjoy wheated Bourbon but out of curiousity I'd like to know what and why it is that's being "off-gassed" when I open a bottle. Another thing I've noticed, along these lines, is that the nose doesn't fully develop until I've let my glass sit awhile and that that nose is consumed on the first strong draft. After that I have to let it sit awhile longer to "recharge", so to speak, or to develop it's nose again. I think next time I evaluate a bottle I will rate it at opening then 2 weeks, then again at 2 more weeks. The character of OWA, for me anyway, changed that much over time; my best glass was the last glass. For me it depended also on how big the bowl of the glass was. I finally found "MY" bourbon glass in a 6 oz general purpose wine glass. The bowl size seems just right (with a 2oz pour) for my palate to enjoy both nose and taste equally. For me it's "balanced" and fits, for someone else it may not be the right glass.