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jbutler

Why you may want to dilute that barrel proof bottling

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mwmac   
mwmac

Thanks for posting this study.  I can see this article generating considered experimentation with some of my engineer bourbon enthusiasts...

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CardsandBourbon   
CardsandBourbon

Read through about 1/2 of the article and decided a needed a drink.:D

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Harry in WashDC   
Harry in WashDC

The online Washington Post uploaded a story on this study at 9AM today (17 Aug).

 

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/speaking-of-science/wp/2017/08/17/the-best-way-to-drink-whiskey-according-to-science/?utm_term=.976ce879158c

 

The Wash Post does have a paywall that kicks in after you click on three articles.  Some of the fifty or so comments are priceless.  There's also a cute little video on "how whiskey is made".  Your kids will love it although I'm not sure they'll learn much.:D

 

Disclosure - Thanks to my wife for seeing this and telling me about it; I was playing freecell.

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GeeTen   
GeeTen

I can't begin to tell you about all the goosebumps of excitement that are popping up and down my arms while reading the original paper on Nature.com.   Harry in WashDC and I can be such nerds sometimes.   :wacko:

 

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Kane   
Kane

Great read! And man, it never occurred to me that you could publish on whiskey. Proceeding to update my research plan.

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fishnbowljoe   
fishnbowljoe
7 hours ago, GeeTen said:

 Harry in WashDC and I can be such nerds sometimes.   :wacko:

 

 

 As can we all Gee. As can we all. I have no problem whatsoever admitting that about myself, cause at times it's true. However, I do have a slight problem with those who can't admit it. <_<

 

Cheers! Joe

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Richnimrod   
Richnimrod

This article, while interesting, seems to draw most it's meaningful conclusions about peated Scotch whiskies.    

Although some of the stuff under discussion is likely applicable to Bourbons, it seems like the effect in the bourbon realm is somewhat, shall we say; diminutive?

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garbanzobean   
garbanzobean

I have my views on the topic, but regardless of the narrowness of the research (framing seems to be a big thing these days), the screeching howls of the Brand Ambassadors echoing across social media in response to the article are 1000% worth it. 

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tanstaafl2   
tanstaafl2

Interesting start on the subject but didn't do much to persuade me from drinking my whiskey neat and adding water only if and when I feel like it is needed.

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garbanzobean   
garbanzobean
1 minute ago, tanstaafl2 said:

Interesting start on the subject but didn't do much to persuade me from drinking my whiskey neat and adding water only if and when I feel like it is needed.

You mean that you should enjoy a product you own in whatever fashion you see fit?  Nonsense?  Where is the decorum.

 

The article the boss posted is interesting to me because I think it is an interesting start in an area I am not sure has had much peer reviewed research.  I'm probably going to keep drinking my booze however I see fit, but I do enjoy more information rather than less.

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tanstaafl2   
tanstaafl2
10 minutes ago, garbanzobean said:

You mean that you should enjoy a product you own in whatever fashion you see fit?  Nonsense?  Where is the decorum.

 

The article the boss posted is interesting to me because I think it is an interesting start in an area I am not sure has had much peer reviewed research.  I'm probably going to keep drinking my booze however I see fit, but I do enjoy more information rather than less.

 

While I may be known for a lot of things decorum ain't one of them!

 

But I do welcome further investigation. While drinking my whiskey neat... :D

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kevinbrink   
kevinbrink

For the most part I'm not a water guy, though if I'm drinking something that doesn't have a lower proof equivalent like 4R SB BS picks I find that adding water can be fun and sometimes results in a more enjoyable pour. 

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Harry in WashDC   
Harry in WashDC
11 hours ago, garbanzobean said:

I have my views on the topic, but regardless of the narrowness of the research (framing seems to be a big thing these days), the screeching howls of the Brand Ambassadors echoing across social media in response to the article are 1000% worth it. 

Eric, I've had too much of VBT 565 so this made NO sense to me.  UNLESS, of course, you are referring to "COMMENTS" sections everywhere.  As I posted above, some of the early WashPost comments are priceless.  On your observation, I'm going to check some other sites, particularly for BA postings.  I need a good laugh or six.B)

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Harry in WashDC   
Harry in WashDC
11 hours ago, tanstaafl2 said:

 

While I may be known for a lot of things decorum ain't one of them!

 

But I do welcome further investigation. While drinking my whiskey neat... :D

Agreed.  I can conduct plenty of investigations from right here while the Nats play the Padres.  How much water, if any, I add depends on a whole lot more variables than the amount of guaiacol in my whiskey and is NOT necessarily the same every time I have a particular brand.  OTOH, I've now read the study twice.  Thunderstorm kept me inside so . . .

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The Black Tot   
The Black Tot

My target proof remains ~110. Even for peated scotch :)

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mosugoji64   
mosugoji64

It's an interesting study, no doubt, but the best kind of research you can do in this arena is at home with the glass in your hand. No lab instrument or spreadsheet can tell you without fail what tastes best, but it is pretty cool to know why adding water changes the flavor rather than just diluting it.

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Swamp55   
Swamp55

Certainly an interesting read.  I do agree with the posters above that prefer to do their own research...as often as possible.

 

Among the more technical descriptions in the study, I noted a more poetic conclusion that I liked:

"Overall, there is a fine balance between diluting the whisky to taste and diluting the whisky to waste."

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Kane   
Kane

It is important to note that the actual paper shows water changes the flavor, but not necessarily for the better. The press coverage, though... Well, we should all know how these things work by now: http://www.smbc-comics.com/?id=1623

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Flyfish   
Flyfish
On 8/17/2017 at 9:46 AM, jbutler said:

There's evidence that whisk(e)y does taste better diluted. Interesting article published on Nature.com this morning.

 

I want to quibble with the word "diluted." If I add a coupled drops to a barrel proof, it is still a long, long way from "diluted." It is the chemical reaction with water that is significant, not the reduction in proof. Most whisk(e)y is reduced by the distiller to 80 proof but further changes occur or are repeated by the addition of a very small amount of additional water. After a while, the effect wears off so 80 proof straight from the bottle is not the same as 90 proof or 101 proof or 123 proof reduced to 80 by adding water. The final proof is not the issue. The breaking and reforming of chemical bonds is the issue.

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EarthQuake   
EarthQuake

This topic got me very curious about how various levels of dilution effect flavor.

 

To test, I compared various levels of diluted Bourbon to an unadulterated sample, which was poured fresh for each 1 vs 1 comparison so as to not change the control due to air time in glass. My base unit was a tablespoon of Stagg Jr at 130 proof.

 

For the first comparison I added a single drop of water, equivalent to about 4 drops of water for a normal 2oz pour.

 

The following comparisons consisted of water being added in 0.5 teaspoon increments, dropping the proof thusly:

  1. 0.5 tsp - 112 proof
  2. 1.0 tsp - 98 proof
  3. 1.5 tsp - 87 proof
  4. 2.0 tsp - 78 proof

When I started, I thought that there was no way that 1 drop of water would have any effect whatsoever (bringing the proof from 130 to about 129.44), and joked with my wife that this was "some homeopathic bullshit". So, I had a clear bias going in. This makes my conclusion all the more interesting. The only comparison where I found the diluted pour to be objectively better than straight from the bottle was the 1 drop example, where the alcohol burn was reduced enough that the inherent flavor pushed through a bit more, but not so much that the flavor itself was weakened.

 

For the 0.5-2 tsp samples, these resulted in the bourbon being progressively easier to drink, or more "accessible" but proportionally less intense and interesting. When I got down to about 80 proof I had a liquid that I doubt I could easily pick out from something like a $13 bottle of Ancient Age. Of these the best was the 0.5 tsp/112 proof sample, which added enough water to round off the edges of the alcohol, but not so much that it reduced the enjoyment of the experience significantly.

 

I think I will do more testing to see what effect single drops have, probably in the 1-20 drops range (120-130 proof) as I expect my personal ideal is somewhere in this range.

 

In no example did I notice a significant change in the flavor profile, nor did I notice new or additional flavors that I hadn't without dilution (even with the 1 drop example I didn't get new flavors, the flavors were simply a bit "cleaner" if that makes sense). So I remain dubious of claims in whiskey reviews such as "with a few drops of water it opened up to reveal notes of cardamom and elderberry". That said, I'm not a supertaster by any means so it's entirely possible the fault lies with my palate in this regard.

Edited by EarthQuake

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The Black Tot   
The Black Tot

Adding water to cask strength bourbon is like adjusting the focus on a camera lens.

 

Sometimes it's in focus from the start, sometimes you've got to adjust. Sometimes you adjust, and you lessen the focus rather than improving it.

 

No two subjects require the same focus, although every photographer has his favorite depth of focus range within which they prefer to work.

 

It's like adjusting the volume knob on a stereo until the singer sounds like they're the right volume of someone singing in the room.

 

The article is wrong headed in that it considers flavor quality to be tied to one specific compound predominately found in one specific type of whisky, and takes it from there.

 

If I had a nickel for every time someone in the audio world said 'what makes a great signal wire is low capacitance/resistance/induction/whatever else you can measure' I could buy a few great casks of bourbon. And yet, I can hear immediately what sounds better or worse (to my liking) when music is played, and it almost never corresponds with the measurement "conclusions".

 

In the end we don't yet have an acceptable measurement system for smell or taste quality. We have them for optics, we have far less perfect ones for audio, but for smell and taste we're still fumbling.

 

The senses still rule. When it comes to flavors and smells, we are all still Jacques Cousteaus, exploring the uncharted depths.

 

...and that is my deep thought for today.

Edited by The Black Tot

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The Black Tot   
The Black Tot

I will add that "some homeopathic bullshit" is one of my favorite condemnations of droplet addition I've ever read :)

 

In practice I either put a healthy and eyeballed splash in, or leave it alone. I don't think I'll ever be part of the eyedropper gang.

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luv2hunt   
luv2hunt

No!!


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

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