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Alcohol fumes overshadowing nose & taste

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Alcohol fumes overshadowing nose & taste

Postby charlie7 » Tue Nov 17, 2009 10:16 pm

Hello all,

newbie question: is it normal for whisky from a recently opened bottle to have very strong (even overwhelming) alcohol fumes, or could it be that my nose is just over-sensitive to this?
The reason I ask is that I've started drinking whisky about a month ago and each of the three I have bought so far (Dalwhinnie 15, Bruichladdich 18 and Auchentoshan 12) has this effect on me, while others (Macallan 12, HP12 and 18, Glenlivet 15, PC7) that I tasted at a friend's house and in bars did not, which is why I suspect it is related to how long the bottle has been open.

Probably that's not the only factor though, I have the impression that the Dalwhinnie 15 after 3 weeks still has this effect while the Auchentoshan already seems to have it less after a few days. The Bruichladdich seems to vary from day to day (which makes me wonder if it's just something "between my ears" :? )

Looking forward to your comments :)
C7
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Re: Alcohol fumes overshadowing nose & taste

Postby lockejn » Wed Nov 18, 2009 2:27 am

Collector57 wrote:I think you'll get used to it and begin to smell past that to the underlying aromas. Start by adding a little water, which should help.

Agreed, but I think you'll find that some malts are just more "spirity" in the nose than others. Dalwhinnie is a fine example. Even at 15 years I still get a lot of that ethanol on the nose and in the finish every time. A pretty nice dram, though.
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Re: Alcohol fumes overshadowing nose & taste

Postby Muskrat Portage » Wed Nov 18, 2009 3:59 am

Charlie7:
Welcome to the wonderful world of whisky. Nick (Collector 57) gives excellant advice about water, and to add it use a straw like a pipette. Stick the straw in a glass of water, hold your finger over the top end and lift the straw out of the water. Hold the straw over the glass of whisky and release your finger slightly to allow some water out. In the alternative use a teaspoon and pour in a tiny amount of water, one to two drops, then nose the dram.

You might want to try covering the whisky once it's poured with a cover and gently swirling the glass while holding the cover on. This will allow some of the vapours to exude from the whisky into the glass.

Now, lift the cover carefully and holding your nose about 3 inches from the open glass, inhale gently. Note any nose (scents) that you pick up.

Move your nose closer to the whisky in stages and inhale again. As you get closer you will start to feel a "nose prickle" which is the volatiles starting to affect your sensory organs. Hold at that spot and inhale a number of times until you are past the nose prickle and can sense the underlying scents.

With a bit of practice, in time, you'll be able to stick you nose right into a whisky, work past the nose prickle and pick up the wonderful underlying olfactory delights.

Any whisky which is "cask strength" on the label will give you a good jolt of "nose prickle" as well - Macallan CS; Aberlour A'Bunadh; Edradour "Straight from the cask"; and Blackadder Raw Cask Royal Lochnagar are several examples which spring to mind. Again the water drops trick will open up the nose and allow you to sense the underlying scents.

Muskrat Portage
(...and you are probably right in assuming that sometimes I have nothing better to do but sit with my nose in a glass of whisky) - a great way to spend an evening with a couple of chums, nosing whisky!
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Re: Alcohol fumes overshadowing nose & taste

Postby charlie7 » Wed Nov 18, 2009 2:26 pm

Thank you all for the great advice, much appreciated. Can't wait to try it out...
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Re: Alcohol fumes overshadowing nose & taste

Postby MacDeffe » Thu Nov 19, 2009 3:24 pm

I have experienced that the type of glass I use can affect how much the alcohol can affect or inhibit the tasting and nosing experience

You didnt mention anything about the type og glass you use, both at your own place and your friends

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Re: Alcohol fumes overshadowing nose & taste

Postby charlie7 » Thu Nov 19, 2009 4:21 pm

Well, at my friend's place and at home, it's a "tumbler" glass, I think it's called? I.e. with (nearly) straight edges.

In the shops they were what I assume are whisky tasting glasses, broader at the bottom and much narrower at the top, which I would expect to hold the fumes (and aromas) even more, rather than less ?

I suppose I may have been to eager before, sticking my nose too deep into the glass too soon and inhaling too strong. Last night I had the Bruichladdich 18 again at home, but nosed and tasted it more patiently, and it was wonderful.
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Re: Alcohol fumes overshadowing nose & taste

Postby Muskrat Portage » Sat Nov 21, 2009 4:36 pm

Charlie charlie 7
(Sorry couldn't resist it) Sounds like you are well on your way towards continued enjoyment of single malts. Glassware is a whole 'nother ballgame!

Why, you ask? We did a taste testing one night here in my Lair (I refer to my bar/ Rec room as my "whisky lair") with 4-5 different glass shapes. I thought that we would just discern which one design of glass was best for tasting with. It turned out that some whiskies tasted better in one type of glass than in another! It's in one of the discussion threads in Whisky tasting but at the moment I can't put my finger on it.

Honestly, whatever type of glass you have available is good enough. Purists may disagree and insist on a glencairn or a brandy snifter you can swirl the dram in. Frankly, anything that can hold the beverage will work in a pinch. Save your money to buy whisky and get someone else to "gift" you a special glass. If you can acquire a "tulip shaped" glass that concentrates the volatiles for nosing, you may find it a bit better than a tumbler.
Here's a website to check out the basics on: http://www.whiskydistilled.com/whisky-b ... -the-best/
Hope this helps a bit.

Musky
C57 you cut me to the quick, my good man! Why, sometimes I do have to attend at my work facility to pay for my hobby! They take a really dim view of coming to work enebriated - if you know what I mean!
:D
If I wander around all day with my nose in a glass, I'll get nothing done - mind you, if one could design up some form of headgear, that would hold a glass at the optimum position ...
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