PDA

View Full Version : On the Rocks



**DONOTDELETE**
03-31-2000, 10:03
Due to this whole 21 nonsense I've only been drinking bourbon for 3 or 4 years (ok...i was little eager;) It's not exactly a hot topic among college type people. One curiosity is the appeal of bourbon on the rocks. I've tried to grow into it but it's just not happening. I grew into good beer so anything's possible...doubt if it's taste and i'm sure i could learn to like it. Maybe it's the ice. Anyway, feel free to answer a silly question with silly answers...just wonderin'

John

jbutler
03-31-2000, 10:26
Hi John,
I think one of the secrets here is to use really good ice ... cubes out of the freezer don't usually cut it for me, though lately Ive taken to making them from bottled water and using them within 48 hours. That way they don't pick up the sometimes disagreeable odors from your freezer.

Regards,

Jim Butler
StraightBourbon.com

**DONOTDELETE**
03-31-2000, 19:10
John, I also normally enjoy bourbon straight & room temperature. Recently I was trying some lower priced bourbons and found some winners and some loosers. With a collection of half full bottles in the discard pile, I wanted to make room in the liquor cabinet and decided to drink my way to more space. Some of these were quite rough straight, but when mixed with ice and in some cases a little water, became much better. I try to eliminate bad memories, but the brands I recall are: J. W. Dant, Old Forrester Bonded, and Walker Deluxe. The Walker Deluxe gave my very worst bourbon ever a run for the bottom rung. Taken neat, it is rough, unbalanced, and overly smokey (actually burnt). But over ice it was quite drinkablet. Ice does supress strong tastes. Are some bourbons made to be served over ice?

A related question could be asked about bourbon and water. Just a drop of water can really release more tastes in a bourbon. Why is this? Also, I find that some bourbons taste rougher when mixed with water (about 50/50). Does anyone else feel this way?

Mark A. Mason, El Dorado, Arkansas

**DONOTDELETE**
04-01-2000, 04:21
Over in the Tasting subsection yesterday I asked some similar questions about Old Crow.

I generally drink bourbon straight, but one brand that I think benefits from the addition of a drop of water is Knob Creek. It'd be interesting if someone with more experience could compile a list of bourbons that they think are best drunk with a bit of water.

Regarding ice, is it true that ice will always smooth out a rough finish? If I decide for some bizarre reason to buy Ezra Brooks again, but this time drink it over ice, will I like it more?

doug

**DONOTDELETE**
04-01-2000, 08:04
Doug said... I generally drink bourbon straight, but one brand that I think benefits from the addition of a drop of water is Knob Creek. It'd be interesting if someone with more experience could compile a list of bourbons that they think are best drunk with a bit of water.

The following is strictly my personal opinion; your mileage will almost certainly vary:

Bourbon of any given brand comes out of the barrel at more or less the same proof regardless of what the final bottling proof will be. Most are reduced from a barrel-proof of between 105 and 115 to one of several "standards", 80, 86, 90, 100. There are others, but those seem to be popular choices. There are several reasons why you see so many lower proof bottlings. Of course, cost is one. Not only the fact that an 80 proof whiskey represents a 20% reduction in materials cost over its 100 proof version, but because taxes are such a prominent factor in the final price, it can be much more attractive to the retail customer. Another important factor, however, is that many people simply prefer bourbon with a lower alcohol content; it just tastes better to them. That's what you're doing when you add a splash of "branch" to your Knob Creek -- you're adjusting it's proof to your own personal preference FOR THAT PARTICULAR BRAND OF BOURBON. Odds are that you drink other 100-proof bourbons straight up, and you might, like me, even prefer some of those, such as Old Grand Dad, at even higher proof. The main reason for 100 proof, by the way, is that the old Bottled-In-Bond Act required the bourbon to be bottled at 100 proof, so "100-proof" became synonomous with "honest quality". It wasn't because most people liked it that way. I think most people really prefer 86 to 90 proof whiskey. That's why 100 proof tastes better on the rocks; it cuts it just enough without actually adding much water (unless you wait too long and the ice melts). I think there might also be a "personal honor" sort of thing to it as well -- some folks who want it known that they drink "only hunnert proof" like to leave it sit in the glass until the ice melts and reduces it to about the alcohol content of dinner wine. Such people also seem to be proud of how many drinks they "can hold". Oh well...

As rule of thumb, I wouldn't put ice or water into 80 proof whiskey. I might drink 86 to 90 proof on ice if I feel like a chilled drink and flavor isn't so much of a factor (but keeping a bottle in the freezer is even better). The higher proof bourbons that I like are also very strongly flavored. I love them neat, but reducing them with a little spring water doesn't detract at all, and in fact is the only way you can really taste some of the flavors that the alcohol masks.

Booker Noe likes to suggest what he calls Booker's Ice Tea, which is a few drops of Booker in a tall glass of ice-cold water. IMHO, Booker's is the only bourbon that can get away with that. It's not because of the proof (Booker's is bottled at an amazing 125-127 proof), it's the intense concentration of flavor that allows it. Old Grand Dad 114 is also pretty high in proof, but it wouldn't support anywhere near that much dilution. That's why Booker's is the best bourbon for cooking; not only does it have a wonderful flavor, but you need only use a tablespoon or so in your steak marinade, so it really doesn't cost any more to use than cheaper whiskey.

So what do I personally do about adding water and ice? Well, I like the higher-alcohol brands, so I usually drink it neat. When I want a cold, refreshing drink (of bourbon, that is -- my guzzling preference is Dr. Pepper, 'cause I really don't care much for beer), I'll pour almost anything over ice.

Regarding ice, is it true that ice will always smooth out a rough finish? If I decide for some bizarre reason to buy Ezra Brooks again, but this time drink it over ice, will I like it more?

Not unless you made the ice cubes out of Knob Creek :-)
By the way, you might want to try OLD Ezra. It's nowhere near as tepid tasting; in fact it's pretty darn good.


-John Lipman-
http://w3.one.net/~jeffelle/whiskey

cowdery
04-03-2000, 13:07
Americans tend to like drinks sweet and cold, hence the popularity of just about anything on-the-rocks. Bars like to serve drinks on-the-rocks because they use little ice cubes that melt fast, making that tiny dab of whiskey they just sold you look like a lot more than it is.

Absolutely do not feel obliged to "learn to like" whiskey on the rocks. It is generally not the best way to enjoy whiskey. In a bar, order it "neat" or "straight up." If you get a blank look from the bartender, just say "no ice."

The reason ice seems to change the taste of whiskey is because cold has the effect of slightly deadening the taste buds. the whiskey doesn't really taste better, you're just not tasting it as much.

Conversely, you add water to a high proof whiskey (and even to a lower proof one, if you wish) so that you can taste it, because alcohol, like cold, also deadens the taste buds. The water doesn't really "open up" the whiskey, it knocks back the alcohol allowing other flavors to come through. Bourbon, even at 80 proof, can support up to a 1:1 dillution.

If you are trying to do a comparitive tasting of more than one whiskey, you absolutely have to dillute if you want to taste them equally.

About ice and water. The flavors you want to savor in whiskey can be subtle and you don't want the water to interfer. In other words, use good water. That doesn't necessarily mean expensive bottled water, your tap water may be fine. To find out, fill a clean pitcher or bottle with water and let it come to room temperature. Taste it as carefully as you would whiskey. If it tastes clean and doesn't have any off flavors, then it should be okay for mixing with whiskey.

If you use ice, be careful about something in the freezer that may impart flavor to it. Finally, be careful about handling the ice. Tongs aren't an affectation or even necessarily about sanitation. Make a drink with ice cubes you've handled right after diceing an onion to see what I mean.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

cowdery
04-04-2000, 08:26
To prove my own point, I tried some Old Crow neat instead of on-the-rocks. I won't make that mistake again. It does make a difference.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)