Welcome to the Straightbourbon.com Forums.
Page 1 of 2 12 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 16
  1. #1
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI
    Posts
    377

    Question Do you let it breathe?

    So here goes first post...

    I have been a whiskey drinker since I turned 18. Many years ago. It was either a shot of JD or JD in coke. About 10 years ago a friend turned me on to bourbon. At first it was always on the rocks. Then little by little less ice or water until neat. I happen to be going through a rye phase. I have yet to to the PVW ryes. but am looking forward to it. Elmer T. Lee will be my next purchase though as I want get back to corn bourbon.

    So now for the question...

    Last night I cracked open a fresh bottle of WT rye. I poured a glass neat but was interupted before I could take a sip. 15 min later I got back to it and it was worth waiting for. When I went back for another splash and started drinking right after it hit the glass and yuk nothing like the first glass. that got me to thinking. Is it better to let the whiskey breathe in the glass or settle from the pour before consuming or am I just whacked out on this perception. I don't think I would let a bottle breathe just the glass. Maybe letting the smell come out and fill the glass and then my nose adds that better taste I experienced. So what say you

  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    9,052

    Re: Do you let it breathe?

    This is often discussed here and a good question. I think sometimes, for some whiskeys, aeration (if not too prolonged) improves it.

    For others though, it can make them harsh-tasting or put them off-balance.

    I think in general, I prefer mine fresh from the bottle, even if the bottle is 50 years old. However on occasion I can see the benefits of aeration and it seems to help the whiskeys that tend to be congeneric. Not that WT rye is particularly so, but I find most rye whiskeys and some rye-oriented bourbons benefit from 10 minutes or so in the glass, sometimes "off" flavors can lift off.

    Gary

  3. #3
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Feb 2006
    Location
    Eastern MA
    Posts
    409

    Re: Do you let it breathe?

    Almost all of the time I find a whiskey improves after 5-10 minutes of breathing in the glass.
    Mike

    "You're the best bourbon drinkers ever!" - Margo (waitress at Bourbon's Bistro in Louisville)

  4. #4
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Milwaukee, WI
    Posts
    377

    Re: Do you let it breathe?

    I tried a search on this before I made my post and it came up blank.
    Secondary question. What about swirling the whiskey in the glass much like wine or rum to kick up the smell?

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    9,052

    Re: Do you let it breathe?

    (By the way I wasn't suggesting any need to search, and there are always new aspects and different angles). I do swirl the whiskey because the slight aeration it gets seems to improve it, either that or the elements get combined more 'tightly' - same idea maybe as in shaking a mixed drink. I find this never hurts the drink and seem often to make it better. Sometimes a high-proof drink seems to benefit from standing for 5-10 minutes (maybe some of the ethanol vapors lift off). Maybe all whiskey does improve, I'll try something tonight with some Woodford Reserve I've got and report my reaction. I'll pour a finger and leave 15 minutes and compare to a finger newly poured from the same bottle.

    Gary

  6. #6
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Rockland County, NY
    Posts
    1,937

    Re: Do you let it breathe?

    Opening up bourbon and releasing volatile aromatics is key to appreciating the taste.
    Not as a habit, but as a tool for enhancing taste, I microwave a dram in a snifter for 10 seconds (plus or minus) with a loose fitting cover (watch glass).

    I can see how some undesirable volatiles might escape enhancing a bourbon if it sits.
    I can also see wonderful flavors escaping.

    You need to try different things with every bourbon and find what works best for you.

    All part of the fun.
    Colonel Ed
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006

    Comissioned by Paul Patton, 1999

    "It ain't the booze that brings me in here, it's the solace it distills"

  7. #7
    Disciple
    Join Date
    Feb 2005
    Location
    Japan, (American)
    Posts
    1,673

    Re: Do you let it breathe?

    Quote Originally Posted by HipFlask View Post
    I tried a search on this before I made my post and it came up blank.
    Secondary question. What about swirling the whiskey in the glass much like wine or rum to kick up the smell?
    I swirl because it is fun!

    Of course, you need a glass that supports swirling.

    Ed
    Bourbon makes me happy.

    Go Fighters!

  8. #8
    Taster
    Join Date
    Dec 2005
    Location
    Burbank, California
    Posts
    78

    Re: Do you let it breathe?

    A while ago . . . and I don't know who to credit this to, I read that a good rule-of-thumb is to let the bourbon sit in the glass one minute for every year it was in the barrel.

    So, for example, Pappy 15yo...about 15 minutes before the first sip...

    Its just a rule-of-thumb...but by gosh it works most of the time for me!

  9. #9
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Oct 1999
    Location
    Sweden
    Posts
    867

    Re: Do you let it breathe?

    Whether swirling the glass actually improves matters or not, is a difficult thing to say.

    What I know for sure is that it changes things. In my experience, certain characteristics come to the fore while others that dominated before the swirl, become more subdued.

    Just like MikeK, I prefer to wait around 5-10 minutes. This is mostly a "nosing issue" for me.
    Delighted to see you if you can find me!

  10. #10
    Taster
    Join Date
    Jun 2007
    Location
    Houston, TX
    Posts
    75

    Re: Do you let it breathe?

    I've seen and read about many different techniques about allowing a drink to "breathe" and I think that often it depends on the individual. What works nicely for me is to gently swirl a freshly poured drink and then cover the glass and let it sit for 10-15 minutes. I typically use a snifter and found a coaster that works perfectly as a cover, but use whatever works best for you. Sometimes I will apply one or two drops of water to help open the whiskey up before covering. Experiment to see what works for you. I've found this works well with any whisk(e)y, whether bourbon, scotch, irish, etc. One important item to remember with this technique is that it allows the alcohol to accumulate as well as the aromas, so don't start out after uncovering the drink by putting your nose straight into the glass. Approach slowly. Anyway, this technique helps my 52 year-old nose pick up on more aromas and "flavors."

    Bob

 

 

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