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Thread: 120+ proof help

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  1. #1
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    120+ proof help

    I freely admit to being new to the world of Bourbon...so far, the last six months have found me adding bottles at a rapid rate to my "bunker". Favorites include Angels Envy, Pappy 15 and some Four Roses....these are all "easy" drinking with either a little water or an ice cube. Coming from a wine centric background, these drinks allow me to test my pallate, identify layers / flavors etc and really savor. However, I have purchased some bottles ( Bookers, Angels Envy Cask, Willett 4 year, and a few more ) that are 120+ proof. I'm having a hard time getting past the alcohol burn. How do you more experienced bourbon drinkers get past this....do you add water / ice / let it breath in the glass for a while. I'm sure there is a way to enjoy 120 proof as much as 85-90, i just haven't found it.

  2. #2
    Connoisseur
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    Re: 120+ proof help

    If you want to sip it at barrel proof, just hold it in your mouth longer. Small slow sips that are gently rolled around will allow your mouth to generate some extra saliva to keep it going down smooth.

    If that doesn't work, start adding water. Use an online proof calculator or just add a teaspoon at a time.

    Trey

  3. #3
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    Re: 120+ proof help

    I’ve given up fighting with my bourbon. Add water until it is enjoyable. I have noticed with time I have adapted to the higher proof. But some days, I just have to add a teaspoon of water to my George T Stagg.

  4. #4
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    Re: 120+ proof help

    It's fun to try a little sip at barrel proof, in the manner stated by Trey. For regular drinking though, add water, or ice if that is your thing. 120+ proof, for me too, is just high a proof to enjoy without adding water.

  5. #5
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    Re: 120+ proof help

    The alcohol seems to bother some and not others. I drink everything at bottle proof and find that water only takes away from the flavor. It's just a personal preference.

    There seems to be somewhat of a correlation between handling spicy food and high proof bourbon, but it's still just my theory.

  6. #6
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    Re: 120+ proof help

    Most of my favorite whiskies are 118+ (Booker's, GTS, Glenfarclas 105, Aberlour A'bunadh, various full proof single casks) and I find that some days I'm more ready to go than others. Sometimes the juice just goes down smooth, and sometimes it doesn't. When it doesn't I'll add water or ice (depending) or I'll just drink something at a lower proof that day. Some whiskies I don't have any problem adding ice to, like Booker's, and some I try to only add drops of water to, like GTS. I can buy Booker's for $45 any day of the week so I don't think twice about "watering it down" if I decide I need/want to. But for certain drinks that are "irreplaceable" like the annual releases or single cask bottles of scotch I try to drink them close to neat or not drink them at all. Just my approach and opinion.

  7. #7
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    Re: 120+ proof help

    Quote Originally Posted by SMOWK View Post
    The alcohol seems to bother some and not others. I drink everything at bottle proof and find that water only takes away from the flavor. It's just a personal preference.

    There seems to be somewhat of a correlation between handling spicy food and high proof bourbon, but it's still just my theory.
    I think you're onto something with your theory. My spicy food/hot sauce tolerance is down from my younger days and 107 proof is now pretty much my max... I even add a few water drops to that 114 proof elixer of the gods you know a bit about .
    Thad

    BTOTY-2011

  8. #8
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    Re: 120+ proof help

    I LOVE high proof bourbon I think in part because it is like a Transformer. If I want it hot and bold, I can sip it neat - but if I add just a bit of water and let it work its magic, it changes. And a bit more - it changes again! With a lower proof bourbon, I find that a bit of water may still open it up, but there are way fewer levels before it loses my interest.

    Having said all that, I prefer the small sip/neat method with higher proofs, with maybe just a few drops of water. The first time I took a sip of GTS neat and held it for 20 seconds, I was just floored!

    Absolutely nothing wrong with adding water to high proof bourbon. I look at it like "Hey, this is MY bourbon, so if I enjoy it with water - I'm doing it! Hell, if I want to mix it with ginger ale, I'm doing it!" There aren't any rules . . . and as Joe often says, if you ain't having fun - you're doing it wrong.
    Gary
    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    "Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough." - Mark Twain
    "Because Whiskey Matters!" - David Perkins

  9. #9
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    Re: 120+ proof help

    Quote Originally Posted by darylld911 View Post
    I LOVE high proof bourbon I think in part because it is like a Transformer. If I want it hot and bold, I can sip it neat - but if I add just a bit of water and let it work its magic, it changes. And a bit more - it changes again! With a lower proof bourbon, I find that a bit of water may still open it up, but there are way fewer levels before it loses my interest.

    Having said all that, I prefer the small sip/neat method with higher proofs, with maybe just a few drops of water. The first time I took a sip of GTS neat and held it for 20 seconds, I was just floored!

    Absolutely nothing wrong with adding water to high proof bourbon. I look at it like "Hey, this is MY bourbon, so if I enjoy it with water - I'm doing it! Hell, if I want to mix it with ginger ale, I'm doing it!" There aren't any rules . . . and as Joe often says, if you ain't having fun - you're doing it wrong.
    Too right, Gary. Drink it whichever way suits you, especially when tackling the super high proof whiskeys. Things like GTS and WLW can reveal all sorts of new flavors/aromas with the addition of small amounts of water after a few initial sips neat.
    "I distrust a man who says 'when.' He's got to be careful not to drink too much, because he's not to be trusted when he does." Sydney Greenstreet

  10. #10
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    120+ proof help

    I have used the method described by Trey with great success with barrel proof bourbons and single malts. I just adjust the volume per sip after the first sip to get that correct saliva dilution. The sip quantity varies greatly for me from bottle to bottle based on style, mashbill, age, and proof.

    The only bourbon this has failed to work with is the Abraham Bowman 17yr old (~147.9 proof). I just can't enjoy this bottle with any method I try.

 

 

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