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spinningrecords
02-07-2012, 21:57
It seems time and time again I open a new bottle and I'm a little disappointed with that first pour. It's really got me thinking about the effects of air and water on bourbon. I'd like to get some opinions on how others dial in that first pour let alone any pour.

Do you pour a glass and wait a certain amount of time?

Are a few drops of water critical regardless of proof?

What are some of the rituals out there to get a pour just right?

nivto
02-07-2012, 23:04
Do you pour a glass and wait a certain amount of time?

Are a few drops of water critical regardless of proof?

What are some of the rituals out there to get a pour just right?

I usually allow a glass from a newly opened bottle some time to breathe. If it's a wheater, I generally expect to need to wait several weeks for the bourbon to really open up after being exposed to some O2.

If it's not barrel proof I don't add water. Not by rule, but that's just how it's worked out. One distillery that I've almost never had to add water to their bourbon is Four Roses. FR is generally exceptional at barrel proof. Stagg, WLW, and some Willetts require water for me to hit the sweet spot.

When I find that sweet spot in a bourbon that needs water, I usually will dilute down a batch of the bourbon to the proof I enjoy it at in a smaller bottle and let it sit for awhile before going for a pour. It's just not the same when it's diluted down in the glass... it doesn't taste quite right. Maybe the bourbon and water need more time to mingle...

ratcheer
02-08-2012, 07:42
What are some of the rituals out there to get a pour just right?

Honestly, I don't think I've ever thought about it this way. Occasionally, a straight pour may be harsh and I will add some water, but it was not a plan going in. On other occasions, I may just want a large pour on-the-rocks, so I just do it.

Tim

JayMonster
02-08-2012, 07:51
It seems time and time again I open a new bottle and I'm a little disappointed with that first pour. It's really got me thinking about the effects of air and water on bourbon. I'd like to get some opinions on how others dial in that first pour let alone any pour.

Do you pour a glass and wait a certain amount of time?

Are a few drops of water critical regardless of proof?

What are some of the rituals out there to get a pour just right?

I don't have a "set" ritual, and I personally don't think you can really ever set up rules that are constant. Like the whiskey, what you will do with it changes.

Yes, in particular that first pour out of the bottle I will tend to let sit in the glass for 10-20 minutes. I do it other times as well, but again, it depends on what I am drinking, my mood, how powerful an alcohol smell I am getting, etc.

I absolutely do NOT think that a drop of water is critical regardless of proof. Again, it really varies on the particular bourbon more than anything. For Example, I had some MM446 recently, and as I tend to do with new pours I am trying, I will go straight, with water, with ice and cold (chilled, no ice). The MM46 flavor absolutely wilted and disappeared with water. I will at times drink OWA neat and other times on ice, but I don't find the added water is critical, it is more about my mood.

Yes, at least some time after opening the bottle seems to help most of the bourbons I have tried so far... though few have gotten more than a couple of weeks. But critical? I'm not so sure.

If you are like me, the tendency to be disappointed with the first pour, especially of something you have not had before, is more about overexaggerated expectation and anticipation more than a problem with the bourbon. When you go back later with those expectations tempered a bit, you find it more enjoyable.

Lazer
02-08-2012, 09:54
It seems time and time again I open a new bottle and I'm a little disappointed with that first pour. It's really got me thinking about the effects of air and water on bourbon. I'd like to get some opinions on how others dial in that first pour let alone any pour.


Drink it and pour another.:cool:

Parkersback
02-08-2012, 12:56
The search engine is your friend. :grin:

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=7541&highlight=breathe

Bourbon Boiler
02-08-2012, 17:40
I used to add six drops of water per ounce. I stopped due to laziness. I'll revert to this method if I try something new and I think it's too hot or if I think I'm missing something.

callmeox
02-08-2012, 18:46
I used to add six drops of water per ounce. I stopped due to laziness. I'll revert to this method if I try something new and I think it's too hot or if I think I'm missing something.

Thats more OCD than anything. :lol:

Adding water to bourbon doesn't "open up" anything, it cuts the proof.

It may lower the alcohol concentration and its numbing effect on your nose and palate, but there's nothing magical going on.

Boubron already has water in it. Cutting the proof by adding a bit more doesn't create a reaction releasing additional good stuff that happens to be water soluble.

Bourbon Boiler
02-08-2012, 18:51
Thats more OCD than anything. :lol:

Adding water to bourbon doesn't "open up" anything, it cuts the proof.

It may lower the alcohol concentration and its numbing effect on your nose and palate, but there's nothing magical going on.

Boubron already has water in it. Cutting the proof by adding a bit more doesn't create a reaction releasing additional good stuff that happens to be water soluble.

Your statement is correct, but you may be underestimating the effect of lowering the proof. Even on a proof in double digits, I can sometimes pick up a flavor more easily with a few drops of water. The pysch effect is after I identify it at lower proof, I can usually find it thereafter at bottle proof.

Of course, with a really good bourbon this process isn't needed.

callmeox
02-08-2012, 19:13
I'm not underestimating at all. Distillery professionals sample at very low proof to try to eliminate he effect of alcohol on the nose and palate.

spinningrecords
02-09-2012, 05:41
Adding water to bourbon doesn't "open up" anything, it cuts the proof.

And yet I constantly hear lots of people say it does. I agree it cuts the proof. Surely adding water does more than simple dilution.

JayMonster
02-09-2012, 06:03
From a purely technical standpoint, callmeox is correct. The addition of water doesn't add anything that isn't alreasy there. But from a perception standpoint, rhe lowering of the proof may enable you to detect more flavors, which is what most people call "opening up."

Now, whether that is "necessary" or not depends on you palate. Like jusr about anything bourbon, there is no absolute best or even right or wrong. It is all about what works best for you.

greens
02-09-2012, 11:52
I drink everything neat always but I do have a habit of pouring about 20 minutes prior to consumption and allowing it to sit and breathe.

It's just something I do with anything other than beer.

ILLfarmboy
02-09-2012, 12:52
I drink everything neat always but I do have a habit of pouring about 20 minutes prior to consumption and allowing it to sit and breathe.
.

Good advice.

And I know some of you are gonna think this is less than civilized but I like using a dirty glass. No, not one that had milk or ice tea in it but a whiskey glass from the night before.

bgageus
02-09-2012, 12:56
My first pour is always neat and I try to warm it with my hands, I have heard that the oils begin to open with warmth. (I read some science bablings about it on here once).

If I dont like a pour right from the bottle, I will pour it over one of my Makers Mark Balls, and let it "open up":grin:, then I can sense different flavors as water is gradally added by the melting ice. When the flavors change with water, I perceive it to be a more complex spirit, when they dont change its more straightforward.

bad_scientist
02-09-2012, 12:57
Good advice.

And I know some of you are gonna think this is less than civilized but I like using a dirty glass. No, not one that had milk or ice tea in it but a whiskey glass from the night before.

I do that. My wife hates to see me do it, but I haven't regretted it.

Brisko
02-09-2012, 13:00
And yet I constantly hear lots of people say it does. I agree it cuts the proof. Surely adding water does more than simple dilution.

I don't have the citation handy, but I've read that the introduction of additional water causes the long-chain fatty acid molecules, which are normally rolled up in a ball, to unwind. Supposedly this accounts for the increased aroma release. Eventually they roll back up again.

I'm not a chemist so that my be a big load of tripe for all I know. But it sounds just technical enough to be believable:skep:

greens
02-09-2012, 13:17
Good advice.

And I know some of you are gonna think this is less than civilized but I like using a dirty glass. No, not one that had milk or ice tea in it but a whiskey glass from the night before.

I do that exact same thing. I use mine a good three to four times before cleaning it up.

I love that milky residue Stagg leaves on the glass.

ebo
02-09-2012, 15:06
Good advice.

And I know some of you are gonna think this is less than civilized but I like using a dirty glass. No, not one that had milk or ice tea in it but a whiskey glass from the night before.
Yep. I might wash my whiskey glass once a week.:cool:

p_elliott
02-10-2012, 21:29
You might find this interesting

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showpost.php?p=246529&postcount=4

greens
02-10-2012, 21:38
You might find this interesting

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showpost.php?p=246529&postcount=4

Thank you for sharing that p_elliott.

My trans geminal nerve has definitely been spoiled by barrel proof bourbon.

Luna56
02-10-2012, 22:20
I just open it, pour it, drink it.
I do believe that some time exposed to the air will significantly change the whiskey and that's often a good thing. I never ever add water.

I pour, sniff, swirl, sniff, drink. I don't wait. I enjoy experiencing the process of a good whiskey "opening up" and I feel like I miss some of that if I wait too long to taste after I crack open a new bottle. It's all good to me and I enjoy every drop. Hope you will too.

Cheers!
PS- What kind of glass are you using normally? That can make a difference.

edo
02-10-2012, 22:26
Thank you for sharing that p_elliott.

My trans geminal nerve has definitely been spoiled by barrel proof bourbon.

Agreed and agreed. Probably all mental (hardly the exception in my case), but my ritual usually works like this: pour, sniff, take the tiniest sip straight out of the bottle, make a judgement, and let it warm in my hand for a few minutes while I contemplate the meaning of life or something somewhat more banal- like the color of the whiskey, shape and length of legs, re-read the proof, sniff again and think of a descriptor or two... or not. Then another sip and probably add 4 to 10 drops of water to a 50ml pour of anything above 95 proof. ... or sometimes nothing.

I think the hand warming, the air time in the glass and the water all contribute to either 'opening it up' or to the experience in my head -which both could be and is the same thing with any subjective qualitative assessment.

On the other hand, somewhat approaching objectivity- time and time again I've been surprised that a bottle that I've left half empty for a couple months and come back to unexpectedly tasted better than I remembered it to taste.

I picked up my approach to bourbon from watching Ralfy with SMSW. I do the same thing with single malts, but I think that there is even a greater change in bourbon.

I've never done the dirty glass thing (thanks, Brad!!!), but I intend to try it soon ... maybe tonight.:cool:

... just saw Luna's post, so I'll add I use a glencairn glass (when I can) and swirl, swirl, cupped in my palm in cold weather. ... swirling and finishing a very short afternoon WT 101 8y.o. right now - to which (breaking ritual) I added no water. Cheers, Luna!

Restaurant man
02-10-2012, 22:46
You might find this interesting

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showpost.php?p=246529&postcount=4

So... It's like crack?

greens
02-10-2012, 23:02
Luna - I use a Duvel Tulip glass that I use for all styles of beer, to also drink my bourbon/rye whiskey. I find that it gives me the perfect nose and I love the shape of the glass as it allows for easy swirling and observation.

Here is a thread you may enjoy: http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showthread.php?t=15688

edo - Mental or not I am pretty much the same way. I sometimes sample immediately and then rest it for 20 minutes or so, or just rest it for an indeterminate amount of time and get to it when I get to it assuming I have other things going on around the house. Believe it or not I have sometimes poured Stagg late at night, and in my bad habit of gluttony poured a bit too much. Since I refuse to finish it in a manner where I can't fully enjoy it I will place a piece of paper or a magazine over the top of the glass while I sleep and enjoy the remainder in the morning. It takes on a new dimension of flavor after sitting in the glass for that many hours and I thoroughly enjoy it before my banana walnut pancakes.

Hand warming and time spent in the glass definitely play a factor. That's why I love the Duvel glass so much. The bulb shape makes it easy to cradle for long periods of time.

Please get back to us with your impressions on the dirty glass method.

Special Reserve
02-11-2012, 06:35
trans geminal nerve

How did I miss that one?

What a difference when reading the board drinking coffee rather than bourbon.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trigeminal_nerve

wmpevans
02-11-2012, 06:49
Yep. I might wash my whiskey glass once a week.:cool:


Glad to hear others do this. Using the same glass 2 or 3 times seems to leave a healty residue, or patina, to the next pour. Of course if my next pour is WLW, Stagg, or Pappy, and my last was Ol Rock Gut-prime, of course, Ill use a clean glass. :grin:

Bill.