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  1. #21
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeff
    Mike,

    Are you suggesting that that last pour went bad overnight? I have never had anything like that happen to me, even with a bottle open 3+ years. Are you sure you weren't feeling a little under the weather or just ate some bad indian food or something I'm not trying to discredit what you're saying, I'm just trying to understand it. Can you describe what it tasted like?
    Yes, I admit this was rather bizarre and a really extreme example. It tasted very bitter and acidic. I actually had to pour out the glass.

    My general position is that a bottle of bourbon will change one it is opened and as the level goes down. I often find that the first pour is outstanding, then it is not quite as good, and then as you get 1/3 to 1/2 into the bottle it gets more complex and flavorful again. It would appear that some breathing or oxidation can be good, but too much is bad. I find as the bottle gets low, even using nitrogen, the quality fades again. Once I get to around 1/4 bottle I try to finish it off within a week. I have heard even people that do not believe in presevative admit that once the level gets low they kill the bottle quickly or pour it into a vatting bottle to keep the fluid level high.

    I too have been VERY perplexed by the radical difference of opinions. Some people keep bottles open for years and report no degradation. Others claim a bottle will change in a negative way in a month or 2. I would like to pick up 2 bottles of AAA or similar and do a side by side experiment. One bottle will get Nitrogen and one won't. I'll have a blind pour out of each once per month and see if I can tell the difference or not.

    Cheers,
    Mike

  2. #22
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    This is a very interesting question.

    I find sometimes when I sample a whiskey that has been in a bottle opened for some time, it tastes a little off, metallic-like, especially when the level is low; other times though when I go back to it it seems fine.

    I think there are two things going on: first, whiskey really does taste different on different occasions due to the fact of having eaten something different, or being tired, or some other external factor. One's body chemistry sometimes is just off (women often report this but it can affect men) and this seemingly affects things we eat and drink.

    On the other hand, unquestionably, prolonged exposure to oxygen, especially small quantities in the bottle, can make whiskey degraded. I think it is possible too the contents can become "polluted" in the sense that if the ambient air isn't very good (often the case in cities or close environments like basements and so forth - some bunkers have inherent defects that way) it just gets in the whiskey and gives it an off taste, whereas if say fresh Nelson County, KY air is flowing in or around it it will be fine.

    Probably only scientific analysis (gas chromatography, notably) could tell us if, say, the whiskey in a one-third filled bottle of WT rye kept two years is the same as the whiskey in a full bottle bought at the same time (or better yet whiskey from the other bottle poured into an empty pint bottle full-up when the experiment started). But even then science couldn't account for peoples' reaction to such whiskeys when sampled two years later...

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 03-18-2006 at 09:21.

  3. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gillman
    This is a very interesting question.
    I think there are two things going on: first, whiskey really does taste different on different occasions due to the fact of having eaten something different, or being tired, or some other external factor. One's body chemistry sometimes is just off (women often report this but it can affect men) and this seemingly affects things we eat and drink.
    Gary
    I agree completely. I usually do not drink whiskey with food or for a while afterwards. If neccessary, a bit of 100% chocolate will clean the palate quite nicely.

    Because of daily moods/weather/chemistry/whatever, I try not to form an opinion on a bottle until I've tasted it on several different days. And I never post tasting notes until I've finished the bottle. It's simple, one day I might love a bottle, another day I might find it lackluster. I like to average this out over a few months and give an overall opinion.

    Mike

  4. #24
    Moderator and Bourbonian Of The Year 2014
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    So, if I'm to believe that oxygen affects bourbon (and I'm by no means an expert trying to refute this)... Wouldn't this mean that the small amount of air in an unopened bottle could potentially impact the whiskey? Admittedly it would only be minimal, but unless the bottle is vacuum sealed at the time of the cork going in, there's going to be oxygen in there

  5. #25
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Yes Cam but it will take a lot longer for adverse effects to be noticed because of the much smaller amount of air in a normal neck space than in, say, a bottle 1/4 full. In practice, the ill effects that can potentailly occur are never noticed because who keeps full bottles for years and years before opening them? Even those who encounter old bottles usually aren't dealing with bottles older than 20 years. That is not long enough for the small amount of air in normal neck space to do damage.

    Gary

  6. #26
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    Plus, it's the same air until the bottle is opened. To whatever extent the escape of volatile agents is a factor, an equilibrium condition would be reached in a short time.

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield
    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

    Dog Lover, Euphonium Player, Campfire Guitarist, Marksman,

  7. #27
    Connoisseur
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    You know what...drink the damn thing...don't store it...

  8. #28
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    We used to have a member here whose slogan was "Drink it, man; drink it!"

    He used it often, especially when some drop-in inquired as to the value of some old bottling he'd found. (Here I use the masculine pronoun without guilt. I have yet to see a post from a woman hoping to make a killing on an old bottle of whiskey.)

    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield
    Yours truly,
    Dave Morefield

    Dog Lover, Euphonium Player, Campfire Guitarist, Marksman,

  9. #29
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    I've noticed that some air can have positive effects, too - my first few pours of Isle of Jura 10yo SMSW were rather disappointing, but after the half-full bottle sat on the shelf for a month or so, it was a lot better when I revisited it.

    Sazerac Jr. seemed to have a bit of a rough, spirity edge on first pour, and then mellowed out a bit on the second pour a week later. Standard WT 101 also has shown this effect.

    On the other hand, air wasn't kind to my Bernheim Wheat - the last pours, though they weren't bad, weren't as good as the first.
    Oh no! You have walked into the slavering fangs of a lurking grue!

  10. #30
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    I've been reading this thread with interest as almost every bottle on the shelf in my bunker is open. Personally, tastewise I would have to side with those that say there are few effects in the taste from one pour to the next. But then I find a totally different problem that nobody seems to have touched on. And that's volume. Once I open the bottle, the volume tends to deteriorate steadily. Now normally I would think that this is a figment of my imagination but the amazing thing is that the better the whiskey, the faster the deterioration! I'm not talking angel's share here either but a major drop in fluid levels. One day I look at a particular bottle and the level is even with the top of the label when it was above it the day before. So, being the chronic worrier I am I open the bottle and pour a bit in a glass to taste to see if it has oxidized and then put the bottle back on the shelf. The very next day the level is BELOW the top of the label! Now comes the really eerie part. THE LEVEL ONLY DROPS ON THE BOTTLE I'M CONCERNED ABOUT AT THAT TIME! All the rest look like they are the same as they were the day before. I'm beginning to think that my house is either haunted or that damned tree rat has learned how to get in and out of my fireplace again unnoticed!
    Dane
    I don't drink to excess. But I'll drink to most anything else.

 

 

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