Welcome to the Straightbourbon.com Forums.
Page 1 of 3 123 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 24
  1. #1

    Why the low ABV hate?

    Having very recently gotten into the sipping whiskey neat concept, there is one thing that puzzles me. Tasters, not just bourbon tasters seem to take off points for 40% ABV whisk(e)ys. The bourbon folk tend to say thin, the scotch people say unsatisfying, and the rum lovers just want to get drunker.

    The thing is, I tend to dilute higher ABV's and enjoy them more for it. I find that dialing back some of the "heat" allows me to capture more subtleties on both the nose and the palette. The finish may suffer a bit from doing it, but that's why I start neat and add water.

    So my question is; am I just a wimp who likes to do girlie-man things, or as one tastes more and more do we become desensitized to alcohol smells and tastes?

  2. #2
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
    Location
    Northwestern CT
    Posts
    393

    Re: Why the low ABV hate?

    I thought 80 was the official tasting proof by "professionals"? For the same reasons you noted why you like your drinks @ 80 proof.
    -Kevin

    "Why? Because it's delicious!"


    Bourbon always did make me feel like a Giant.

  3. #3
    Virtuoso
    Join Date
    Apr 2007
    Location
    Los Angeles, CA
    Posts
    1,176

    Re: Why the low ABV hate?

    You are most definitely not a wimp (at least not for putting water in your whiskey). As you suggest, you may find that as you taste more, you are less sensitive to the alcohol. To a wine or beer drinker, 40% can taste like firewater. As you taste, your palate will become acclamated to higher proof, but that doesn't mean you won't want to add water from time to time.

    As to why many of us prefer higher strength, everyone's palate is different and everyone has different sensitivities to alcohol. When something is cask strength, each person can drink it to their taste, whether that's neat or lower proof with added water.

    But while you can lower the proof of a cask strength whiskey, you of course, can't raise it in a low proof whiskey. With a 40% bottle, the distillery or bottler is making the choice for you. For many of us, myself included, 40% is too low in many cases and tends to make the whiskey taste diluted. I'd rather have something too high in abv that I can dilute to my tastes if I wish then something that tastes watery and diluted.

  4. #4
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Oct 2009
    Posts
    181

    Re: Why the low ABV hate?

    In addition to the muted taste, I kinda cop an attitude when I see something released at 40%. Makes me feel, for right or wrong, that the producer is cheaping out on me by giving me a product that just meets the minimum strength and no more.

    I can't help but see it as being a financially-motivated decision. Maybe there are some valid, non-fiscal benefits to 80 proof, but I don't know of any.

  5. #5
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Location
    Louisville, Ky.
    Posts
    723

    Re: Why the low ABV hate?

    The lower the proof the filtering needed to prevent "flocking". The more filtering done, the more flavor removed. The whiskey is going to have more flavor at higher proof, so like Pappy Van Winkle said, just add your own water if you like lower proof. You will get more flavor from your drink and more drinks from the bottle.

    Mike Veach

  6. #6
    Virtuoso
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Twin Cities, MN
    Posts
    1,317

    Re: Why the low ABV hate?

    Two ideas:

    One, I have heard that bottling at higher proof retains more flavor, even if you bring it down to 80 proof when drinking it. (Wasn't this Pappy's argument for selling high proofs?) I have no idea if this is actually true. I guess we could do a blind tasting with OWA 107 and WSR (which BT claims are the same bourbon, just different proof offerings) and see if they taste the same when brought down to the same proof.

    Two, I often like to add a small splash of water to whatever I'm drinking. It tends to open up bring out the aromas. But at 80 proof, any additional water tends to kill the palate. Ditto if you like to use an ice cube or two.

    A third idea-- A lot of Single Malt Scotches seem to do really well at 46%. A lot seem weak at 40% and sometimes even at 43%. Other than cask strength, 46% seems to be the sweet spot. With bourbon, I find I really enjoy them at 100 proof with a splash (or neat). Anything below 90 proof doesn't really do it for me. Anything above 110 proof and I will probably cut it to at least 100 proof. But that's just my preference, everyone is different of course. At least with high proof you have lots of options.

    Finally, a general question: if you're looking at two similar products, do you choose based on proof, or based on age? For me proof wins almost every time. Examples: WTRB over WTRR; OGD 114 or BiB over Basil Hayden's; etc. I'm sure there are a lot of other examples, too.

  7. #7
    Guru
    Join Date
    Jun 2008
    Location
    Metro Detroit
    Posts
    5,191

    Re: Why the low ABV hate?

    For me the attraction of high-proof whiskey is that, in most cases, I'm getting more for my money. The barrel-proof whiskeys I tend to hate on, Handy for instance, are ones that are not a value purchase. I don't find it to be that much better than the standard Saz when diluted. That's all very subjective though.

    As far as tasting goes, many master distillers, blenders, etc will dilute down to as low as 40 proof to taste. If you watch Ralfy's videos, the man practically drowns his Malts. 2x Bourbon Taster of the Year Doubleblank won both of those awards by tasting with with a lot of ice. Personally, if I drink anything higher than 98 proof neat, I get heartburn really really bad. Yet a lot of people claim that they routinely sip Stagg and WLW neat.

    Bottom line, drink it how you like to drink it.
    Last edited by Josh; 12-14-2011 at 10:18.
    bibamus, moriendum est
    Sipology Blog

  8. #8
    Novice
    Join Date
    Nov 2011
    Location
    Louisville, KY
    Posts
    17

    Re: Why the low ABV hate?

    i would agree with sku.

    as a newb, it has not taken long for me to step up to the higher proofs. i add a small splash but really enjoy it more than anything i've had at 80 proof.

    as a reference, i started with a bottle of vob bib. at first i didn't care for it without ice and a splash of water. after half the bottle, i tend to drink it neat more often than not. taste much better in my opinion.

  9. #9
    Virtuoso
    Join Date
    Sep 2010
    Location
    Twin Cities, MN
    Posts
    1,317

    Re: Why the low ABV hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by Josh View Post
    As far as tasting goes, many master distillers, blenders, etc will dilute down to as low as 40 proof to taste.
    I think the blenders' standard practice in Scotland is even lower, like 20% for nosing.

  10. #10

    Re: Why the low ABV hate?

    Quote Originally Posted by bourbonv View Post
    The lower the proof the filtering needed to prevent "flocking". The more filtering done, the more flavor removed. The whiskey is going to have more flavor at higher proof, so like Pappy Van Winkle said, just add your own water if you like lower proof. You will get more flavor from your drink and more drinks from the bottle.

    Mike Veach
    I like that answer. Good ol' Pappy.
    If you're gonna be a lamb, you might as well be a sheep.

 

 

Similar Threads

  1. I hate cola
    By Attila in forum New to Straightbourbon
    Replies: 25
    Last Post: 08-01-2008, 18:25
  2. What I Hate
    By **DONOTDELETE** in forum General Bourbon Discussion
    Replies: 3
    Last Post: 03-13-2001, 15:00

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