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HipFlask
07-07-2007, 09:16
So here goes first post...

I have been a whiskey drinker since I turned 18. Many years ago. It was either a shot of JD or JD in coke. About 10 years ago a friend turned me on to bourbon. At first it was always on the rocks. Then little by little less ice or water until neat. I happen to be going through a rye phase. I have yet to to the PVW ryes. but am looking forward to it. Elmer T. Lee will be my next purchase though as I want get back to corn bourbon.

So now for the question...

Last night I cracked open a fresh bottle of WT rye. I poured a glass neat but was interupted before I could take a sip. 15 min later I got back to it and it was worth waiting for. When I went back for another splash and started drinking right after it hit the glass and yuk nothing like the first glass. that got me to thinking. Is it better to let the whiskey breathe in the glass or settle from the pour before consuming or am I just whacked out on this perception. I don't think I would let a bottle breathe just the glass. Maybe letting the smell come out and fill the glass and then my nose adds that better taste I experienced. So what say you :bigeyes:

Gillman
07-07-2007, 10:18
This is often discussed here and a good question. I think sometimes, for some whiskeys, aeration (if not too prolonged) improves it.

For others though, it can make them harsh-tasting or put them off-balance.

I think in general, I prefer mine fresh from the bottle, even if the bottle is 50 years old. :) However on occasion I can see the benefits of aeration and it seems to help the whiskeys that tend to be congeneric. Not that WT rye is particularly so, but I find most rye whiskeys and some rye-oriented bourbons benefit from 10 minutes or so in the glass, sometimes "off" flavors can lift off.

Gary

MikeK
07-07-2007, 14:15
Almost all of the time I find a whiskey improves after 5-10 minutes of breathing in the glass.

HipFlask
07-07-2007, 22:36
I tried a search on this before I made my post and it came up blank.
Secondary question. What about swirling the whiskey in the glass much like wine or rum to kick up the smell?

Gillman
07-08-2007, 06:01
(By the way I wasn't suggesting any need to search, and there are always new aspects and different angles). I do swirl the whiskey because the slight aeration it gets seems to improve it, either that or the elements get combined more 'tightly' - same idea maybe as in shaking a mixed drink. I find this never hurts the drink and seem often to make it better. Sometimes a high-proof drink seems to benefit from standing for 5-10 minutes (maybe some of the ethanol vapors lift off). Maybe all whiskey does improve, I'll try something tonight with some Woodford Reserve I've got and report my reaction. I'll pour a finger and leave 15 minutes and compare to a finger newly poured from the same bottle.

Gary

pepcycle
07-08-2007, 07:38
Opening up bourbon and releasing volatile aromatics is key to appreciating the taste.
Not as a habit, but as a tool for enhancing taste, I microwave a dram in a snifter for 10 seconds (plus or minus) with a loose fitting cover (watch glass).

I can see how some undesirable volatiles might escape enhancing a bourbon if it sits.
I can also see wonderful flavors escaping.

You need to try different things with every bourbon and find what works best for you.

All part of the fun.

Edward_call_me_Ed
07-08-2007, 08:44
I tried a search on this before I made my post and it came up blank.
Secondary question. What about swirling the whiskey in the glass much like wine or rum to kick up the smell?

I swirl because it is fun!

Of course, you need a glass that supports swirling.

Ed

BourbonBalls
07-08-2007, 09:17
A while ago . . . and I don't know who to credit this to, I read that a good rule-of-thumb is to let the bourbon sit in the glass one minute for every year it was in the barrel.

So, for example, Pappy 15yo...about 15 minutes before the first sip...

Its just a rule-of-thumb...but by gosh it works most of the time for me!

Hedmans Brorsa
07-08-2007, 10:37
Whether swirling the glass actually improves matters or not, is a difficult thing to say.

What I know for sure is that it changes things. In my experience, certain characteristics come to the fore while others that dominated before the swirl, become more subdued.

Just like MikeK, I prefer to wait around 5-10 minutes. This is mostly a "nosing issue" for me.

Yellowjacket
07-08-2007, 11:07
I've seen and read about many different techniques about allowing a drink to "breathe" and I think that often it depends on the individual. What works nicely for me is to gently swirl a freshly poured drink and then cover the glass and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. I typically use a snifter and found a coaster that works perfectly as a cover, but use whatever works best for you. Sometimes I will apply one or two drops of water to help open the whiskey up before covering. Experiment to see what works for you. I've found this works well with any whisk(e)y, whether bourbon, scotch, irish, etc. One important item to remember with this technique is that it allows the alcohol to accumulate as well as the aromas, so don't start out after uncovering the drink by putting your nose straight into the glass. Approach slowly. Anyway, this technique helps my 52 year-old nose pick up on more aromas and "flavors."

Bob

HipFlask
07-08-2007, 14:00
It's good to see what I stumbled on is true. And to my friend in Japan you are quite right swirling is fun. Now to figure out how to get more bourbon in the house without upsetting my wife. I cleaned out all of the 1/3 full bottles recently and made room to accept more. :woohoo:

NickAtMartinis
07-09-2007, 14:49
What I know for sure is that it changes things. In my experience, certain characteristics come to the fore while others that dominated before the swirl, become more subdued..

So, I guess the best thing to do is pour then taste. If not to your liking, swirl and then taste again. If still not to your liking, let it set for 10 minutes or so. If still not to your liking, use it for mixing. ;)

Hedmans Brorsa
07-10-2007, 03:56
So, I guess the best thing to do is pour then taste. If not to your liking, swirl and then taste again. If still not to your liking, let it set for 10 minutes or so. If still not to your liking, use it for mixing. ;)

You´re getting it, Nick. :)

Seriously, I was talking exclusively about the nose. Does swirling change the taste also? I don´t know. To be honest, I have never even thought about that.

Gillman
07-10-2007, 05:01
I always wondered, do the various components of whiskey - the ethyl alcolhol, secondary constitutents such as aldehydes, higher alcohols and esters and extracts from the wood such as lignins and char particles - sit (physically) in equal relationship to each other? E.g., in the bottle, do some of these elements tend to concentrate at the bottom (or the middle, or top?). Ditto for the liquor in the glass although of course since the quantity is small and the liquid has been agitated by pouring, the drink has already been "shaken or stirred" to a degree.

Assuming there is an unequal relationship to begin with, I think one can set it "right" by shaking the bottle before pouring and twirling the contents of the glass and this is something I always do.

This assumes that these sensory elements should ideally be assessed "en masse". I suppose one could argue, that if I could rearrange things to my maximum wishes, I might want e.g., more esters in the glass, or more char effect, but practically speaking this is an impossibility (except where visible char subsists in the whiskey as in Stagg sometimes). All in all I think it is best that the whiskey when drunk be as melded as possible. That way I think I get the most the drink has to offer, and this idea is the basis I am sure for the shaking or stirring of cocktails and mixed drinks.

Gary

NickAtMartinis
07-10-2007, 07:03
You´re getting it, Nick. :)

Seriously, I was talking exclusively about the nose. Does swirling change the taste also? I don´t know. To be honest, I have never even thought about that.

I wish I had that much experience to know for sure. I try to let every one of my pours sit for about 5 minutes. Whether or not it doesn't something to the smell or taste, I'm not sure but I'm hoping. ;)

It sounds like you're going to have to do a lot of experimenting (tasting) to find out. :D

Hedmans Brorsa
07-10-2007, 08:06
It sounds like you're going to have to do a lot of experimenting (tasting) to find out. :D

Absolutely! Please note also that each whiskey can differ dramatically in behaviour from the other. A diversity that, in my view, only adds to the excitement.