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  1. #1
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    The Bad Bottle – the legend, the myth, the reality

    Everyone in a while you will see “this bottle is not as good as others have said it is, must be a bad bottle” or “this does not taste like I thought it would, the bottle must be bad”

    I know Chuck believes that this happens very, very, very rarely, and he is probably right, but bad bottles do happen old and new.

    For a fact I know you can get a bad bottle if it has been leaning where the bourbon is touching the cork. It will eat that cork and become “corked”

    I know you can get a bad bottle of it has been leaking over a long period of time and “other” things have gotten back in.

    Some bourbons if they are leaking air for long enough change dramatically from what went in on bottling day.

    I am a believer that if it is left in the sun for a long period of time, whether it is cork or screw cap, it will turn due to a number of chemical activities.

    I also think that you can get a micro environment in a bottle and leach from the plastic in a plastic bottle and from the cap (the rubber and plastic) usually due to sun and heat.

    I am not so convinced that you get many new bad bottles that were bad from the distillery. So much time and care goes into ensuring that a distillery is not sending off bad juice from contamination, impurities, bad corks, etc that they would loose too much money not to ensure that the juice is not good leaving the distillery.

    Now I do believe you can get bad single barrels. I have taste some SBs I think are really bad, maybe not “spoiled” but sure taste bad (EC 18yr from 1989, Willy Wallace WTKS, and a few others.

    I have had a couple bad bottles, usually due to corking, which is a very distinct taste to me. I have also had 1-2 that were oxidized to the point that they were rotten.

    Greg Gilbert had a AH Hirsch Gold Foil that tastes to me that it was bad from the day it was bottled and if I had to guess, it was the bourbon in the tank that was against or sitting in the valve area for way to long. The glass, cork, etc were perfect, but it was a really bad bottle of bourbon.

    So, Chuck, et al,
    What are your thoughts?

  2. #2
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    Re: The Bad Bottle – the legend, the myth, the reality

    I want my $69.95 back......
    “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” - P.J. O’Rourke
    Greg's "bourbondork" blog

  3. #3
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    Re: The Bad Bottle – the legend, the myth, the reality

    I agree for the most part with the premis of this post. There are many more reasons for a bottle to go bad after it goes to distribution rather than a problem at the source. I've had one bottle where I believe that was the case, either a bad cork or it just wasnt stored right at some point.

    Something that is really starting to bother me though is that there are more and more bottles out there that are sold as premium "single barrel" or what not and taste like nothing special. Not to pick on any one bottle but the EC18 really seems to be the best example.

    I know the popularity of bourbon has gone up very quickly but the distillers need to keep their integrity or it will all be for naught.
    "I'm and optimist, even if the glass is half empty, there's still more in the bottle!!!!!"

  4. #4
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    Re: The Bad Bottle – the legend, the myth, the reality

    I noticed that twice EC18 was mentioned. That is my favorite Heaven Hill product. I admit it is very woody and smoky, to the point of being earthy, but that's what I like about it. If you don't like that earthiness it will be easy to find bad bottles. I'm not an Old Forrester fan, so any time I drink OF, it would be easy for me to find a bad bottle. I think a lot of it has to do with your taste and the mood you're in. I have times when a bottle that I normally love tastes "off". Two nights later that same bottle may be as good I remember. I agree there is such a thing as a bad bottle, but I think they are rare. Try putting it away for a couple of days and trying again. Do that twice and if it still tastes bad, compare it to a new one. You may then find you have a bad bottle.

  5. #5
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    Re: The Bad Bottle – the legend, the myth, the reality

    Yes, there are bad bottles and you covered most of the reasons. I have bought one corked whiskey, a scotch, Highland Park 12 yo to be precise. I took it back and got another bottle and it was much better. It still wasn't bourbon though.

    The sunlight example was interesting. I have a bottle of Jim Beam White Label 8 yo Japanese market bourbon. No real idea how old it is. My guess it that it was bottled in the 80s or earlier. The seal on the plastic screw cap was fine. The red ink on the front of the label was faded almost to white, but the ink on the back was bright. It wasn't in direct sunlight, but the window in the front let in plenty of light. The whiskey was cloudy, the only time I have seen this, I think. But the Bourbon was wonderful. It still is. I had two pour in the last week or so. Only two skimpy pours left or one generous pour.

    Some, not all, bottles of Blantons have an earthiness, if you like it, or a mustiness, if you don't. I say a brief prayer before opening a bottle of this, "Please, let this be an earthy bottle!"
    Ed
    Bourbon makes me happy.

    Go Fighters!

  6. #6
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    Re: The Bad Bottle – the legend, the myth, the reality

    Quote Originally Posted by Stu View Post
    I noticed that twice EC18 was mentioned. That is my favorite Heaven Hill product. I admit it is very woody and smoky, to the point of being earthy, but that's what I like about it. If you don't like that earthiness it will be easy to find bad bottles.


    I like the EC 18 a lot. I c0ould not drink enough of the 1980-1983 bottles. i had a 1990 and liked it, it s just the 3 1989s that have been trash to me. More than smoke and oak, those are what I like in the EC 18, it was the heavy metallic and mildew taste that turned me off in that one.

    Now I am not a Scotch Drinker and this one may have been perfect for a heavy peat fan.

  7. #7
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    Re: The Bad Bottle – the legend, the myth, the reality

    (Emerald -- I'm finally going to crack open my 1989 EC18 this weekend and see if it's as bad as you and Andy report!)

    I have an Old Fitz Prime that had been near the front window of the package store long enough for the label to fade. It had a very rancid "off" nose when I first opened it, but to quote the Dead, the bottle was dusty but the liquor was clean. After several months open, it has "un-oxidized" to be a very normal pour.

    I'm not a big fan of the newest Ritt BIB that I poured for VBT#176 compared to older versions -- like a pine tree -- but I think it fits in the range of a rye whiskey rather than a "bad" bottle. The reports of "musty" Buffalo Trace probably fall into that category as well.
    Kevin

    "Clears up her head with bourbon/Cause beer is so suburban/And declasse for what it's worth"

  8. #8
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    Re: The Bad Bottle – the legend, the myth, the reality

    I agree that you have covered most of the reasons for "bad bottles". I've only had two that I would consider "bad".

    The first was a botle of Sam Houston which may have been corked (although the cork appeared fine on inspection). It was the only bottle I have ever poured down the drain.

    The second was the infamous WR4G... definitely bad but perhaps intentionally so. When I complained, BF graciously had me return the bottle and refunded the purchase price.
    John B

    "Drinking when we are not thirsty and making love at all seasons… that is all there is to distinguish us from other animals."

  9. #9
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    Re: The Bad Bottle – the legend, the myth, the reality

    Quote Originally Posted by StraightBoston View Post
    (Emerald -- I'm finally going to crack open my 1989 EC18 this weekend and see if it's as bad as you and Andy report!)
    Don't get me involved, Kevin, I like the EC18 and have defended it many times -- but I definitely see how many others could dislike it and I think it could be improved upon with less of a "sharp" woodiness. As far as bad bottles, I agree with Emerald -- I think most of the time it is the cork.

    I have had three bad bottles in the last 6 months and all were brands that I am familiar with and like immensely: 2 bottles of EC12 and a Baby Saz. They all had the exact same taste -- a "sharp" woody must that overpowered the entire flavor of the whiskey. Because they're from different distilleries and because I know what they're supposed to taste like and because I've tasted the same thing in bad bottles of wine, I think it is clearly the cork. They all came from the same store & distributor.

    Cork taint happens and I think it is very easy to recognize & diagnose -- I have only been in the whiskey buying game a short time and have been affected numerous times, so I think it's just luck of the draw.
    Last edited by funknik; 02-28-2009 at 17:33.
    "A person can work up a mean, mean thirst after a hard day of nothing much at all . . . "

    Andy

  10. #10
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    Re: The Bad Bottle – the legend, the myth, the reality

    We could start a thread titled "The Most Controversial Bourbon".
    EC18 would win, hands down.
    There have been times that I thought it was from The Holy Grail and other times I swore it came from that talking snake.
    ovh

 

 

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