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  1. #11
    Guru
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    Re: Tasting question

    I had the same question. Unless it is just ugly, or some goofy non-whiskey color, what difference does the color make?

    Tim

  2. #12
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Re: Tasting question

    Rather than 'color' think 'appearance.' You want the whiskey to be clear and bright, not cloudy. For bourbon, you want the color to be rich, not pale, and reddish, not yellowish. Color imperfections can be a sign of aging imperfections or of some failure in processing prior to bottling (though this is rare). The appearace stage is also when you observe the whiskey's 'legs.'

  3. #13
    Enthusiast
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    Mar 2000
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    Midland, MI
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    455

    Color (Re: Tasting question)

    Color is a strange thing... there have been studies in Scotland showing
    that if you set two glasses of the same whisk(e)y in front of someone,
    but put a little food coloring in one of them, and people will have
    very different reactions.

    Unlike bourbon, scotch is allowed to have coloring added to it, which is a
    somewhat controversial thing among the high end drinkers. Personally,
    the best scotches I've had were all pale or light yellow... but I still
    like to see a dark color for psychological reasons!

    It all depends on how you define "enjoyment" of whiskey. If you're
    talking about just taste/aroma, then color is irrelevant. But I personally
    like a handsome looking glass bottle with a dignified label: it adds to
    the enjoyment. Similarly, I like a good coloration in the whiskey.


    My favorite food science story is a study where people were fed steak
    in a room with colored lights. They loved it and rated it superb. The
    colored lights were turned off, and the white lights were turned on,
    revealing that the steak was blue. The participants got sick and vomited!
    It was just food coloring, but it really effected them.

    Tim Dellinger


  4. #14
    Advanced Taster
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    Jun 2004
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    Seattle, USA
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    239

    Re: Color (Re: Tasting question)

    A similar thing is true of other foods, like butter (naturally white) and many cheeses (naturally whitish, especially cheddar). People think the colorized versions are the more natural ones!

    Pepsi's unfortunate experiment with the much-maligned "Crystal Pepsi" showed quite clearly (pardon the pun) that people are pretty attached to that caramel coloring.

    As far as the blue steak and similar experiments, I wonder if this punches some kind of reflexive instinct against eating spoiled food. The change in color flips a switch in the brain that says, "It's spoiled! Puke it up!"

    When it comes to whisk(e)y, I have to say that a good color, especially the coppery reds of fine bourbon, are indeed part of the enjoyment. I would look upon any whisk(e)y that poured out clear as gin with some suspicion, and might not be as open-minded about enjoying it as I would if it were darker.

  5. #15
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006
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    Dec 2001
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    Rockland County, NY
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    Re: Color (Re: Tasting question)

    This begs the question.
    Where is the appeal of high end Gin and Vodka?
    Clear is better. Implied crisp and clean.
    The opposite appears to be true for bourbon
    Depth of color implies flavor and aroma.
    The power of suggestion.
    Is it an accident that most blends are in brown tinted glass and most high end bourbons in clear glass?
    I think not.
    Ed


  6. #16
    Advanced Taster
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    Dec 2003
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
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    189

    Re: Tasting question

    The tasting of bourbon (and other drinks, for that matter) are very subjective. I, personally, like a slightly darker bourbon color, but not too dark. Clarity is of utmost importance. A cloudy bourbon would not be too appealing.

    Other tasters, in my blind taste test sessions, rate the bourbons on how they feel about them, at that moment in time. They are also comparing all the bourbons together. If all the bourbons were either dark or light, the individual bourbon color would be relative to the rest of the bourbons in the group. Hence, a slightly darker bourbon, in the same group as lighter-in-color bourbons, would appear darker, even if it were a naturally light-colored bourbon, itself.

    My mind tends to associate a light bourbon color with a younger bourbon, although this is not necessarily true. Psychologically, this is my thinking. Hence, the darker the bourbon, the more I think it is older. Too dark of a bourbon, to me, means that it is very old and possibly too oaky for my taste. Again, this is not necessarily true of older bourbons, but how I think about the color of bourbon. Too dark a bourbon also reminds me of maple syrup and I think of sweetness instead of flavor.

    I hope this answers your question.

  7. #17
    Advanced Taster
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    Jun 2004
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    Seattle, USA
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    Re: Tasting question

    A cloudy bourbon would not be too appealing.
    This is an unfortunate tendency, especially among American consumers.

    Scotch drinkers are rapidly growing to appreciate whisky that is "unchillfiltered". Chillfiltering is a process whereby the whisky is brought at or near freezing and "impurities" that cause the whisky to cloud are removed. Unfortunately, these "impurities" are evidently part of the taste and appeal, and do not even appear unless water or ice is added. You can find a small but growing number of options for un-chilfiltered expressions from various distilleries, and these often have more character and taste.

    I'm not sure if bourbon goes through a similar process, but if it does, I hope that we are eventually given the option to buy the original undisturbed product. Those of us who drink it neat will still get the unclouded, clear coloring and perhaps an even finer tasting whiskey.

  8. #18
    Advanced Taster
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    Dec 2003
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    Cincinnati, OH
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    189

    Re: Tasting question

    I agree that if you don't drink most bourbons neat, i.e. add ice or water, the bourbon will become a little less clear... although not really cloudy. I don't mind that, too much.

    Many bourbons have such a wonderful color that I love to view the contents of the glass for awhile, just before taking in its aroma, hoping the two are a perfect match! If the taste is comparable, what a bonus!

    The worst problem I have come across is when a glass that was washed and then wiped out with a cotton or paper cloth, gets lint inside, thus causing particles in the bourbon. I can't stand that!

  9. #19
    Guru
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    Re: Tasting question

    There are some threads on these forums that discuss chill filtering of bourbon, ad nauseum. The general consensus seemed to be that it is generally only done to low proof bourbons. Thus, the good high proof bourbons are usually free of this process.

    Tim

 

 

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