Welcome to the Straightbourbon.com Forums.
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 20
  1. #1
    Taster
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    Posts
    77

    Higher ABV equal more flavour?

    I have read reviews of particular bottlings that sometimes contain comments to the effect that "bourbon so and so would be better at a higher proof"

    So I am wondering if a higher ABV is directly linked to a richer flavour or is it due to something else entirely?

  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2010 and Guru
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Kentucky!
    Posts
    4,749

    Re: Higher ABV equal more flavour?

    Quote Originally Posted by JMac72 View Post
    I have read reviews of particular bottlings that sometimes contain comments to the effect that "bourbon so and so would be better at a higher proof"

    So I am wondering if a higher ABV is directly linked to a richer flavour or is it due to something else entirely?
    Well, let's say that barrel proof whiskey is lemonade and 80 proof whiskey is what remains in the glass after you drank the lemonade and then the ice melted.
    2010 Bourbonian of the Year

    As long as you have good whiskey you're not "unemployed", you're "Funemployed!!!"

    I'm no Pappyophile

  3. #3
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Mt. Washington, KY
    Posts
    150

    Re: Higher ABV equal more flavour?

    I think the answer is an unequivocal ... maybe ...

    For some bourbons, the higher proof is somehow tied to it's specialness ... like Booker's ... too much water, and it looses it's specialness and starts to taste a little like Jim Beam.

    For others, the higher proof just seems to get in the way ... and make it taste "alcoholy" ... a little water, and it opens up and tastes better.

    When I taste, I always try it several ways ... full strength, just a splash of water, and cut to about 60 proof.
    Dave

    "Remember, the BEST bourbon is FREE bourbon ..."

  4. #4
    Taster
    Join Date
    Jun 2006
    Location
    CA
    Posts
    88

    Re: Higher ABV equal more flavour?

    There are two ways to increase the flavor of a whiskey after it's been distilled - 1. age it longer 2. bottle it at a higher proof.

    Basic science at work there. The less you dilute the whiskey after the aging process is finished, the more intensely concentrated the end result will be. This will make a whiskey taste better up to a certain point, but where that point lies is a matter of subjective preference.

    Barrel-strength whiskies are popular with enthusiasts not because they necessarily taste the best, but because they offer us a choice to discover at which proof WE think the whiskey tastes best. This also adds a scientific (i.e. respectable) element to the drinking ritual, which some people no doubt like. I can't prove it though!

  5. #5
    Guru
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Wash DC Metro
    Posts
    2,409

    Re: Higher ABV equal more flavour?

    Mamba, your answer is spot on to JMac's question. The other factor in play is the fiscal element. I like higher proof whiskey's in order to play with the proof as you pointed out. You can't do that with an 80 proof whiskey. Nowhere to go but down. A higher proof whiskey can be stretched further than a lower proof whiskey thus making your investment more flexible.
    “Giving money and power to government is like giving whiskey and car keys to teenage boys.” - P.J. O’Rourke
    Greg's "bourbondork" blog

  6. #6
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Mar 2009
    Location
    Mt. Washington, KY
    Posts
    150

    Re: Higher ABV equal more flavour?

    I would add a little bit here ...

    With perhaps one notable exception, I think that bottling below 86 proof is a red flag to lack of quality... this means it has been chill filtered to remove the chill haze ... and because activated charcoal is rather non-selective ... when you take out the chill haze, you are removing color, taste and aroma as well ...

    I agree that more age adds more taste ... just is it taste that you like or not ... If you like smoky, woody, bitter tasting tannins ... etc ... let it age forever. If not, find the spot where it tastes the best and stop there. I think too much is made of "older is better" ... sometimes, older is just older. I have tasted 18 year old Maker's Mark ... and in the words of Gary Regan ... "it was bloody awful"... and he usually likes older bourbon.
    Dave

    "Remember, the BEST bourbon is FREE bourbon ..."

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2010 and Guru
    Join Date
    Aug 2005
    Location
    Kentucky!
    Posts
    4,749

    Re: Higher ABV equal more flavour?

    Quote Originally Posted by Bourbon Geek View Post
    I would add a little bit here ...

    With perhaps one notable exception, I think that bottling below 86 proof is a red flag to lack of quality...
    I'd be interested to see what your one would be.

    I could see making arguments for I.W.Harper 15yo, Four Roses Yellow Label and Basil Hayden's...
    2010 Bourbonian of the Year

    As long as you have good whiskey you're not "unemployed", you're "Funemployed!!!"

    I'm no Pappyophile

  8. #8
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Sep 2007
    Location
    Lansing, MI
    Posts
    345

    Re: Higher ABV equal more flavour?

    Plus, don't forget:

    Flavor is only one component of the bourbon-drinking experience. 60% alcohol has an amazingly different effect on the tongue, mouth, and throat than 40% alcohol. Stronger alcohol also evaporates at a different rate; I would assume this difference affects our perception of aroma.

    I like barrel-proof bourbons for flavor, but I also like how they affect my entire body. They rock my whole head, not just my palate.
    Jeremy
    www.awksome.com

    “We are what we pretend to be, so we must be careful what we pretend to be.”
    --Kurt Vonnegut


  9. #9
    Taster
    Join Date
    Apr 2009
    Location
    Vancouver, British Columbia
    Posts
    77

    Re: Higher ABV equal more flavour?

    Thanks for all the input. I see that ABV is only one factor in determining a bourbon's flavour.

    Let me throw this out there then.....in terms of an overall flavour profile, which bourbon would benefit more from a higher ABV; one that has a high rye mashbill or one that is 'wheated'?
    Last edited by JMac72; 05-27-2009 at 20:16.

  10. #10
    Virtuoso
    Join Date
    May 2008
    Location
    Swaziland, Africa
    Posts
    1,481

    Re: Higher ABV equal more flavour?

    Quote Originally Posted by JMac72 View Post
    Thanks for all the input. I see that ABV is only one factor in determining a bourbon's flavour.

    Let me throw this out there then.....in terms of an overall flavour profile, which bourbon would benefit more from a higher ABV; one that has a high rye mashbill or one that is 'wheated'?
    One that is older
    Hope is subversive, for it limits the grandiose pretensions of the present by calling into existence the possibility of something better.

 

 

Similar Threads

  1. Bourbon Proof gets higher as it ages
    By DrinkyBanjo in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 10
    Last Post: 11-06-2005, 05:02
  2. Wiser's Reserve (Special Edition) 43% ABV
    By Gillman in forum Foreign Whiskey
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 11-02-2005, 17:37
  3. Canadian Whisky at 100 proof and higher
    By Blackkeno in forum Foreign Whiskey
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 10-23-2003, 22:38

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Back to top