View Full Version : Do larger bottles get the poor whiskey?
In another recent thread Gary Gillman observed that larger bottles often aren't very good (to his taste) and he then posed the question of whether this was just coincidence. I have been pondering the same question myself. I have experienced rather nasty bourbon from more than one 80's vintage 1.75L bottle. It made me wonder if a distillery might use its 'off' barrels in the larger bottle sizes figuring that anyone buying a 'handle' of bourbon is probably mixing drinks and won't notice.
Any thoughts or rumors on this?
I have not found this to be the case. Of course, you'll find more cheaper (usually not as good) bourbon in handles (1.75 L) cause the price is still right (versus Hirsch in a handle for $160 or something).
But as far as the ones I've tried in handles and 750mL, I have not detected a difference.
Now, if you want to talk about a glass 750 versus a plastic 1.75 L, that's different.
I certainly don't think so. I have recently opened bottles of 1970's Old Forester, Old Taylor and Old Grand Dad that taste incredible. Maybe you just got a bad bottle...
I meant more recently, say in the last 10 years. None of it is bad of course, just seemingly not as "on" as the best 750 ml. bottles I've had. I've had this experience with 5 or 6 brands, but maybe it is just me.
It would be illogical to put out different whiskey based on bottle size. It wouldn't do for a person who normally buys a 750 ml to buy a 1.75 L for a party and find that it tastes different. The producer would want to encourage that behavior, i.e., buying the larger size for entertaining, not discourage it by making that whiskey taste different and certainly not by making it taste noticably inferior.
cowdery sounds absolutely correct on this
When a difference is noticed, is it from the first pour or towards the end of the bottle?
Theoretically, the larger head space in a 1.75 would allow greater air exposure once the bottle is partially emptied.
I haven't personally experienced degradation of Bourbon within the bottle, but as others have mentioned, if you leave a glass out overnight you'll see and smell the difference by morning. I assume that is the result of oxidation, and if so, the same thing must happen at a slow rate inside the bottle as well.
I wonder if, all things being equal, a very slow oxidation proceeds faster with a smaller container, and therefore, tasted not too long after bottling, the liquor tastes better than in the larger container. Maybe this is why I like Old Weller 107 best in 375 ml. sizes.
I was just curious, since I had had several poor experiences with 1.75's. To answer the question above, they were 'not good' right off the bat, not after having been open a while. A good point was made though, I would think a 1.75 would degrade much faster once opened due to the larger head space and longer time to consume. I would recommend decanting a 1.75 into smaller bottles to keep it fresh and allow yourself to enjoy it over a longer time.
About the only thing I regularly buy in a 1.75 is Very Old Barton BIB and I've never noticed a problem, but I doubt I've ever had one open for more than a year, if that long. As this questions come up, I have to conclude that some people are more sensitive to the oxidation changes than are others, which is true of most things. As Gary has mentioned, bottle oxidation isn't always a bad thing, but it is if you are especially sensitive to it.
For another data point, I had a handle of Fleischmann's Rye open for about six months, and the last pour didn't seem to have deteriorated any from the first.
Not bourbon, but I have a half full 1.75 of Cristian Brothers brandy. It has been 1/2 full for about 3 years. The last time I had any was last Christmas Eve at a gathering the wife and I threw. It tasted just fine.
First, only the more modestly priced brands are in the 1.75 L bottles. Second, as usual, Chuck makes good sense with his arguments. Third, don't let it get that old where oxidation will be a problem.
I have a 1.75 L bottle of ER SB that I decant into a smaller bottle for convenience and have not noticed any ill effects.
ER SB has become a favorite, so it does not stay on the shelf for an extra ordinary long times and I enjoy the reduced price of the larger size.
I just had a sip, and it is wonderful
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