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compliance
06-03-2012, 10:53
I am curious about "hot" bourbons, and the burn effect. I know it is closely related to proof, but doesn't seem directly related. For example my EHT Tornado is very hot at 100 proof, hotter than some of the 120+ barrel proofers I have. Then there's Stagg, which doesn't seem that hot for its proof at all. Maybe Stagg is just better balanced, so it isn't as obvious? What makes a bourbon more or less hot besides proof?

The TPS Bowman discussion is part of what spurred this question. Seems like there is disappointment that some of the editions are very hot, although people are tiptoeing around the fact and won't come out and say they don't like it. (I didn't get any myself, so take this analysis with a grain of salt)

Couple related questions:
Do most people consider excessive heat a defect?
Is there a bourbon where the heat is considered a plus?

ILLfarmboy
06-03-2012, 11:00
I think the thinner a whiskey's mouth-feel, the hotter it will seem at any given proof. Just about everything I think of as "hot" strikes me as thin.

yountvillewjs
06-03-2012, 11:17
I think the thinner a whiskey's mouth-feel, the hotter it will seem at any given proof. Just about everything I think of as "hot" strikes me as thin.

+1.

What he said.

LikeItWasSodaPop
06-03-2012, 12:18
One man's "tiptoeing" is another man's "waiting to give the bottle some air and then to try it diluted down to 107 or so."

But I agree with thin = hot when brought down to a sensible proof.

Old Lamplighter
06-03-2012, 12:37
Booker's is about the hottest :hot: that I've personally experienced which I unsuccessfully tried to tame to a tolerable point....just never happened for me. Others though, have experienced nearly the opposite and would fight before relinquishing their Booker's. Like so much as tasting goes herein, probably more a personal palate factor than anything else.

Some of you guys are scaring me away from opening my Bowman...lol

compliance
06-03-2012, 12:46
Thin=hot begins to explain why Stagg remains very drinkable. Is there an explanation for this phenomena? I would guess that thicker oily bourbons are coating the palate and thus protecting it, and/or keeping certain molecules in suspension. Wish I knew chemistry!

Bourbon Boiler
06-03-2012, 14:39
Basically the closer you get to where it was when it came from the still is how I define hot. Thus high proof, young, light color, and lack of comlexity all factor into "hot". MHO.

Bmac
06-03-2012, 15:09
Basically the closer you get to where it was when it came from the still is how I define hot. Thus high proof, young, light color, and lack of comlexity all factor into "hot". MHO.

Except that my MashBill #1 white dog isnt hot, at 120 proof ?

JayMonster
06-03-2012, 15:11
We seem to be a long way off knowing for sure, but there is plenty of research

http://www.quora.com/Tastes-of-Alcohols/What-is-the-chemical-physiological-explanation-for-the-burning-taste-of-hard-alcohol

sailor22
06-03-2012, 16:30
Except that my MashBill #1 white dog isnt hot, at 120 proof ?

Most of the white dogs I have tasted aren't hot. Regardless of proof. That leads me to believe that possibly what is commonly described as hot , as in alcohol burning your mouth hot, is not actually the effect or taste of alcohol at all but something else. Perhaps we get the astringent prickly burn produced by aging in a hot environment or in small barrels confused with the burn created by alcohol? A little of that character comes acroos as "spicy" and a lot of it comes across as a burn. I find it is one of the characteristics of The Taylor Tornado that others describe as hot. Perhaps it is a characteristic from the barrel and not the heat of the alcohol?

Regarding Stagg - Have you ever swallowed it wrong and gotten serious pain? - that's hot, and that's alcholol.

Tico
06-03-2012, 16:53
I agree with the thin and bookers comment. I find bookers unpalatable, thin and incredibly hot.

Bourbon Boiler
06-03-2012, 17:06
Except that my MashBill #1 white dog isnt hot, at 120 proof ?

With very, very few exceptions, I've always found white dog to be the hottest drink imaginable. The MB Roland Black dog is a notable exception. I imagine we're calling different characteristics "hot".

ethangsmith
06-03-2012, 18:58
Agreed with the above poster about defining "hot." Everyone may have a different definition of what "hot" is in a whiskey. For me, nothing is hotter and has more unpleasant burn than Four Roses products. I can't stand them. They also seem very thin to me. But then there is OGD 100 and Old Heaven Hill 100- both are "hot" to me, but in a very pleasant dry and peppery way. I've found the "hotness" in most Heaven Hill and Beam products to be at least tolerable if not pleasant. BT and FR products often are just plain "hot" and unpleasant, though there are a few exceptions in the BT line. Wild Turkey products, despite their often higher proofs, do not seem very "hot" to me, but again, this could be due to them being "thicker" and bolder in flavor.

yountvillewjs
06-03-2012, 19:05
With very, very few exceptions, I've always found white dog to be the hottest drink imaginable.

Ever had grappa?

Clavius
06-03-2012, 19:05
Ever had grappa?
Hah. That stuff is jet fuel!

jtexaslonestar
06-03-2012, 19:36
Hah. That stuff is jet fuel!

Agreed. Crazy stuff. Had it in college and was humbled.

jcg9779
06-03-2012, 19:42
I'm in the minority here, but Noah's Mill has always tasted hot to me. I've had both the current stuff and the older age stated bourbon and it's one that I will always have over an ice cube or two. There's just something about it that tastes hot.

compliance
06-03-2012, 19:43
I kind of assumed hot was a universal term, but maybe it's not. Or it is and we experience it differently. Jay's link was very informative, and the context of "burning" in that link is what I think of as hot too. Summary - It's a reaction between ethanol and the same taste receptors that are triggered by spicy food (although the feeling generated by a hot pepper is a reaction to a different substance, capsaicin).

The ethanol reaction is not necessarily limited to that receptor, so that is the unknown element to the alcohol burn. Logically, I would still assume that burn should have a linear relationship with proof, but empirically it doesn't. I'm sure that all goes back to the other substances in bourbon and how they interact with other receptors and the ethanol.

Any chance the distillers know how to control heat? Maybe they shoot for a certain amount like they would have a target proof.

Restaurant man
06-03-2012, 22:06
Oak is a culprit as well. We know from the wine world that oaky wines intensify and prolong the flavors (burn) of spicy food.

tmckenzie
06-04-2012, 03:41
My take on it is, the lower the still proof, has a lot to do with it. Leaves more grain oils in the product to coat the tounge. I was tasting through some of our rye barrels that have turned a year and a few months, big barrels. Stuff has almost not any burn, but rye made like we do it, has a bunch of oil left in it.

PaulO
06-04-2012, 07:36
I think the lack of sugars or other carbohydrates can make the hot taste more noticable. It seems the hot bourbons are also dry. People trying to mask the hot taste of alcohol tend to mix it with sweet things; soda pop, fruit juice, ...

fussychicken
06-04-2012, 13:47
My take on it is, the lower the still proof, has a lot to do with it. Leaves more grain oils in the product to coat the tounge. I was tasting through some of our rye barrels that have turned a year and a few months, big barrels. Stuff has almost not any burn, but rye made like we do it, has a bunch of oil left in it.

I've always been in this camp as well. Hence I wish more producers would make their distillation proof more common knowledge. I also describe spirits that are "hot" as also "thin" and vice versa.

This also makes me think that Wild Turkey might be fibbing about their distillation proof as I find today's Turkeys so much hotter than the luscious thick Turkeys from days past.

Many people are saying that the new TPS Bowmans are "hot". But from what I can gather, these weren't triple distilled like the other more recent Bowman products. Maybe this is proof there are other factors?

I know that "mouth feel" seems to be a big deal in the craft beer world, but not so much in the spirits world. I wonder why this is...

RWBadley
06-04-2012, 14:46
For example my EHT Tornado is very hot at 100 proof, hotter than some of the 120+ barrel proofers I have.

Interesting, I did not notice the Tornado as being hot for its proof. I found it quite well balanced...

White Dog
06-04-2012, 18:07
On some days certain whiskeys taste hotter than on others. One day I may gulp down OWA like water, and the next I may wanna cut it.

I will say that I too thought of Booker's when reading the OP. It's blazing hot, in a way the Antique line and FR's LE line is not. As I cut Booker's, it simply becomes thin. This has been my experience with 3 bottles of my own(gifts), and whenever I have it at a bar.

Brisko
06-04-2012, 20:00
I think this really illustrates "different strokes." I find Booker's to be pretty drinkable, certainly less hot than KCSB, for instance. Whereas I know White Dog love Wild Turkey 101 rye, and i often find it a little too hot.

KYPayne
06-04-2012, 21:57
I found EW Black to be "hot" and not very appetizing. It didn't necessarily burn my throat, but there was a certain heat to it, akin to after burn of a jalapeno. I found Booker's to be very drinkable but lacking in substantial flavor. I don't detect a burn in WT101, just lots of rye spice. On the other hand, I've never drank a cask strength scotch, but all scotches that I've drank besides JW Red (which is crap) lack the burn that bourbon has.

sutton
06-05-2012, 05:11
On the other hand, I've never drank a cask strength scotch, but all scotches that I've drank besides JW Red (which is crap) lack the burn that bourbon has.

I find the same (scotch burn vs. bourbon burn) - for me it is the interplay between cut, alcoholic strength, and tannin from the new barrels. The tannin dries out your mouth, and if there isn't sufficient weight/sweetness to balance it, the alcohol/spice burn is amplified esp. over 100 proof ...

sailor22
06-05-2012, 08:47
for me it is the interplay between cut, alcoholic strength, and tannin from the new barrels. The tannin dries out your mouth, and if there isn't sufficient weight/sweetness to balance it, the alcohol/spice burn is amplified esp. over 100 proof ...

That makes lots of sense - Good point!

scubadoo97
06-11-2012, 09:43
Most of the white dogs I have tasted aren't hot. Regardless of proof. That leads me to believe that possibly what is commonly described as hot , as in alcohol burning your mouth hot, is not actually the effect or taste of alcohol at all but something else. Perhaps we get the astringent prickly burn produced by aging in a hot environment or in small barrels confused with the burn created by alcohol? A little of that character comes acroos as "spicy" and a lot of it comes across as a burn. I find it is one of the characteristics of The Taylor Tornado that others describe as hot. Perhaps it is a characteristic from the barrel and not the heat of the alcohol?

Regarding Stagg - Have you ever swallowed it wrong and gotten serious pain? - that's hot, and that's alcholol.

I agree Steve. The several white dogs tasted off the still that I've had were surprisingly smoother than I expected. I did not find them hot at all. White sugar sweet and not very complex but certainly not hot.

Sutton, I think you hit the nail on the head. It's the congeners plus the alcohol that contribute to the burn