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Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

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Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby AndrewThomas » Tue Nov 09, 2010 3:51 am

My favorite Bourbon these days is Baker's. It's rich and chocolaty and a little spicy. There is however a catch: 107 proof. I usually drink it with water in a brandy snifter type glass and usually it's delicious. But sometimes there is a struggle...

With alcohol content that high, drinking it straight doesn't make too much sense. When your nose goes in the snifter instead of getting a concentrated dose of nose you get a burn and pretty much no flavor. However, if you add a drop too much of water, you find yourself with something lacking in body and taste.

What do the experts do? One drop at a time? Let it sit for a while so the AC evaporates out a little bit? :headbang:

All the best,
Andrew
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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby The Third Dram » Tue Nov 09, 2010 4:02 am

AndrewThomas wrote:One drop at a time?

If I must, then this definitely seems the best approach.

Try dropping a very small amount of water into the middle of your glass and then immediately taking a sip. Next, swirl your glass to integrate water and spirit, and then take another sip. You'll probably be amazed at how these two ways of adding water lead to such different sensations.

That said Andrew, I think you may find over time that the high proof of many a spirit will bother you less and less.

For nosing a high proof whisk(e)y as it pours, try gently edging your nose over the rim of your glass toward the center of the glass rather than 'diving right into the deep end' of the glass. This strategy will enable you to sense a broader range of the scents while mitigating somewhat the numbing upsurge of the alcohol vapours.

As for sipping, try taking smaller sips and then swishing each one around your palate before swallowing.

Sort of a less is more way of going about things.

Doug
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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby pkt77242 » Tue Nov 09, 2010 4:16 am

The Third Dram wrote:
AndrewThomas wrote:One drop at a time?

If I must, then this definitely seems the best approach.

Try dropping a very small amount of water into the middle of your glass and then immediately taking a sip. Next, swirl your glass to integrate water and spirit, and then take another sip. You'll probably be amazed at how these two ways of adding water lead to such different sensations.

That said Andrew, I think you may find over time that the high proof of many a spirit will bother you less and less.

For nosing a high proof whisk(e)y as it pours, try gently edging your nose over the rim of your glass toward the center of the glass rather than 'diving right into the deep end' of the glass. This strategy will enable you to sense a broader range of the scents while mitigating somewhat the numbing upsurge of the alcohol vapours.

As for sipping, try taking smaller sips and then swishing each one around your palate before swallowing.

Sort of a less is more way of going about things.

Doug


I will second Doug on this. I was typing up a response but he beat me to it.
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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby robbi@laurenson.com » Tue Nov 09, 2010 7:50 am

With a high alcohol whisky I find nosing with my mouth slightly open allows me to 'control the mix' so to speak. You can gain quite fine grained control over how much vapor is going through your nose this way.

Another tip (I forget the source, I think on a Ralfy reader comment) is to take a sniff of your own skin if your nose is getting oversaturated and the smell is becoming numbed. The poster suggested the crook of the elbow, but anything seems to work. This sort of resets your nose back to neutral again, like a palate cleanser.
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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby RogerB » Tue Nov 09, 2010 7:32 pm

I usually let it sit for a little while, but never add water or ice(of course I have no issues with drinking George T. Stagg straight either). If you must add water, I'd get one of those eye droppers, so you can very precisely control just how much you're adding.
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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby lockejn » Tue Nov 09, 2010 8:14 pm

RogerB wrote:I usually let it sit for a little while, but never add water or ice(of course I have no issues with drinking George T. Stagg straight either). If you must add water, I'd get one of those eye droppers, so you can very precisely control just how much you're adding.

Or use a drinking straw. Similar results with something you probably already have around the house.
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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby The Third Dram » Wed Nov 10, 2010 12:36 am

lockejn wrote:Or use a drinking straw. Similar results with something you probably already have around the house.

I simply use something along the lines of this...
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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby Megawatt » Mon Nov 22, 2010 2:38 am

Not to be critical but I think some people are a little too uptight about adding water, bordering on superstitious. I've heard people say that they won't drink a whisky below x strength. To each his own, but I think it puts a bit too much emphasis on alcohol content.

Almost any whisky can benefit from some water. And almost any whisky can be enjoyed neat. I will add water, or not, depending on my mood. Sometimes a single ice cube is the perfect thing. I put some water in a shot glass and pour a bit out of that. I seldom overpour. And if I add a half-ml. more than intended I probably don't notice too much.
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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby AdamMY » Mon Nov 22, 2010 3:58 am

Megawatt wrote:Not to be critical but I think some people are a little too uptight about adding water, bordering on superstitious. I've heard people say that they won't drink a whisky below x strength. To each his own, but I think it puts a bit too much emphasis on alcohol content.

Almost any whisky can benefit from some water. And almost any whisky can be enjoyed neat. I will add water, or not, depending on my mood. Sometimes a single ice cube is the perfect thing. I put some water in a shot glass and pour a bit out of that. I seldom overpour. And if I add a half-ml. more than intended I probably don't notice too much.


The thing is for it to legally be called Whisky it needs to be at least 40% abv. So in the end if you add water reducing it below that point, it is watered down Whisky. While I support people drinking what they like and liking what they drink, in my mind the alcohol content does not matter as long as you are enjoying it in proper moderation.
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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby Megawatt » Tue Nov 23, 2010 2:02 pm

AdamMY wrote:The thing is for it to legally be called Whisky it needs to be at least 40% abv. So in the end if you add water reducing it below that point, it is watered down Whisky. While I support people drinking what they like and liking what they drink, in my mind the alcohol content does not matter as long as you are enjoying it in proper moderation.


You have a point, though I think when sitting down to enjoy a glass of whisky legal definitions should be the last thing on your mind. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a few extra percentage points make a superior product or that you are getting more for your money. But certainly when you add too much water and it tastes watered down, it is no good.
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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby AdamMY » Wed Nov 24, 2010 12:46 am

Megawatt wrote:You have a point, though I think when sitting down to enjoy a glass of whisky legal definitions should be the last thing on your mind. It's easy to fall into the trap of thinking that a few extra percentage points make a superior product or that you are getting more for your money. But certainly when you add too much water and it tastes watered down, it is no good.


Certainly, I by no means think Cask Strength whisky is by any means superior. I have on many instances enjoyed certain High Percentage whisky a bit more with a touch of water. But that being said I feel when things are bottled that way it is basically signed off by the bottler as quality product, offering a unique look at what things might be like if you were to drink a sample straight from the barrel.

Although one thing I will say, is that when something is bottled over the mandatory 40% abv. I have found that they tend to be bottled at those higher strengths because they have a special extra character that negates the stronger alcohol burn.
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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby igneous » Mon Jan 03, 2011 8:28 pm

Whether high alcohol or not - water, time, and air exposure can all impact (positively or negatively) the nose, palate and finish profile of the whisky due to the chemical interplay of those 3 primary factors with the malt (a fourth is perhaps saliva). Clearly some whiskies are affected more so than others.

I absolutely adore "playing" with many Ardbegs this way - nosing glass with cap (to temper air exposure), water drops, and drinking over at least a 30 minute duration. The Laphroaig 10yoCS is knockout on its own but its nose, palate and finish are just as good and very different with water.

Drinking a good whisky is like reading a good book or listening to good music. There is always the original intent of the artist but recipients are free to interpret and enhance as senses, desire, mood and palate see fit.

SV over at WhiskyFun does a good job with his notes that include tastings with and without water.
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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby EdwardsCollins » Sat Feb 22, 2014 10:58 am

I follow 3 Ds…Dillute…Drink and Diet…combination of these 3 is also good and safe.
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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby sandy23 » Thu Feb 27, 2014 8:38 pm

AndrewThomas wrote:My favorite Bourbon these days is Baker's. It's rich and chocolaty and a little spicy. There is however a catch: 107 proof. I usually drink it with water in a brandy snifter type glass and usually it's delicious. But sometimes there is a struggle...

With alcohol content that high, drinking it straight doesn't make too much sense. When your nose goes in the snifter instead of getting a concentrated dose of nose you get a burn and pretty much no flavor. However, if you add a drop too much of water, you find yourself with something lacking in body and taste.

What do the experts do? One drop at a time? Let it sit for a while so the AC evaporates out a little bit? :headbang:

All the best,
Andrew


:D :D :D :D
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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby Willie JJ » Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:23 pm

I prefer to add this much water

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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby Ganga » Wed Mar 05, 2014 1:47 am

Willie, didn't we teach you to be conservation minded? :P
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Re: Drinking whiskeys with high alcohol content

Postby Jobi » Fri Mar 28, 2014 8:02 pm

A Compass Box rep had a suggestion for nosing high ABV whiskies: Nose in the glass, mouth below the rim, breathe in through your mouth.
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