I held the glass in my hand for quite some time as I savoured this malt. The finish was so ridiculously long that I could wait 4 or 5 minutes in between gulps.
After 15 minutes or so, I really noticed the malt start to open up. It seemed a little smoother; more complexity and flavours started to reveal themselves; and it also seemed to get noticeably sweeter.
I think I've read one or two posts somewhere in these forums before where people have recommended letting an old whisky sit and breathe for some time before tasting it. (i.e not the whole bottle, just pour a dram and let it sit for a while).
I have returned to this bottle several times in the last few days, and I am now convinced that it improves tremendously once it's had a bit of air and breathing time.
I remember someone (sorry, don't know who) mentioning a rule of thumb for how long a whisky should breathe for, relative to it's age. (Was it five minutes for every 10 years in the cask?)
Can anyone else comment on this or provide information? Is there a golden rule that says any malt over 20 years old should breathe first? And for how long?
Suggestions, comments, thoughts, and ideas welcome!
I think every whisky changes whith some air. I think to follow the development of the whisky in the glass is one of the most fascinating things of whiskydringking. So I try the whisky from time to time while I let it breath. The most interresting experience I made was letting a 50 yo Glenlivet breath for about one hour, after about 30 minutes it really became quite peaty but 5 minutes later almost all the peat has gone again.
Sometimes I've left a glass for some 30 minutes and the flavours have either changed or fled, depending on the style and age of the whisky. In my experience it's different every time but I will never rush it with an old whisk(e)y.
The interesting part is to snif every now and then in the time you let your dram breath to the air. See how it develloped minute after minute, until you say that's it and start to enjoy the pleasures of your dram.
Now people probably understand why I take 4 up to 5 hours for one dram of Bunnahabhain 1968, 34Y, because it develops all the time and that makes it such an enjoyment
But it's a good rule of thum what McEwen says about every minute for a year in the cask. It's slightly different then Patterson's conclusion to keep it in your mouth for a second a year it spend in the cask. Especially when it's a cask strength one
For what's it worth
The concept of using time as an opener is very much over shadowed by spring water enthusiasts. I steer clear of water as much as possible and always opt for time when possible.
Tastings suck and beg for water because obviously everyone is on limited time. Either you drink up like crazy or feel you should demand a refund at the end.
At any rate I wish more people gave this a shot. It brings me to tears to see some guy 50/50 something with water that is 18+ years old.
What happens to whisky in half-opened bottles? I have seen references to oxidation in some of the posts, but is there a thumb rule to that too? Also, any particular point in time when whisky in semi-consumed bottles begins to deteriorate?
P.S.: Please pardon me if there is a previous thread on this. The Forum does not really have the most convenient search engine!
My personal rule of thumb (which I read in a whisky book somewhere years ago) is that once a bottle gets to be about a third full (i.e. you've already consumed two-thirds of it), then you have approximately three to four months to finish off the bottle before it starts to change for the worse.
And I can tell you from bitter experience that this is pretty accurate.
It's surprising how quickly (and how terribly!) the whisky deterioriates when oxidation in a mostly-consumed bottle kicks in.
Depending on the quality of the whisky and how you have stored it, some even might last longer at third full level. I can tell you that from experience. That doesn't mean it never changes, it will change, but some whisky's seems to change more then others.
I think that the very best thing to do is, finish the bottle as quick as possible and you have a good excuse to buy another one of your favorite whisky.
As for letting whisky breathe - I have those little 'bonnet' lids for my whisky glasses. Pour a couple at a time. Keep one in your hand to let it warm and leave the other well alone - for about 20 mins. That way you keep those pesky angels thievin' 'ands of your booze and you get to try the spirit at various degrees of oxidation.
As Laphroaig says, this opens up the flavours, without weakening the booze.
BTW - this crazy practice drives my girlfirend mad, as does my 'incessant pompous pontification' that often accompanies my drinking
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