What does oxidation do to the taste?

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What does oxidation do to the taste?

Postby jruddy » Tue Aug 07, 2007 7:09 pm

I tried a Dalwhinnie 15 last weekend at my brother-in-laws house.

He is not a whisky drinker and the bottle had been given to him in an opened state (half gone) by his father years ago. I suspect it has been open for 10 or 20 years, with the cork broken off and plastic wrap held over the top with an elastic band for the last few years.

Needless to say, the taste was not what I would have expected from a Dalwhinnie 15. I highly suspect it was oxidation that did it in.

But maybe I just don't like Dalwhinnie 15? How would you describe how the taste of whisky changes through oxidation? I do know the dw 15 had a bit of a tart metallic taste to it, not much depth, no smoke or peat to speak of and had a little bit of a moldy bread aroma - though there was no sign of mold in the bottle. It was not a good experience and I tossed the contents of my glass, cleaned it well, drank a bottle of water and started over with my current favorite 'every-day' dram, Longmorn 15. The difference was night and day.

Tasting was done in a Chardonnay Glass.


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Postby SoMK » Tue Aug 07, 2007 7:44 pm

I don't know about the chemical reactions involved with oxygen and the components *complex !* of whisky but a photograph/chemist friend of mine confessed using Nitrogen (canned, mostly used in electronics/photography) with his old bottles :)
He just fill the bottle and voila. This seems logical enough as Nitrogen is mostly inert, lacks of moisturizing or oxydizing qualities !
And, as Wikipedia says, a further example of its versatility is its use as a preferred alternative to carbon dioxide to pressurize kegs of some beers, particularly thicker stouts and Scottish and English ales, due to the smaller bubbles it produces, which make the dispensed beer smoother and headier.

Let's save old bottles wit Nitrogen... or drink them ! :P

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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Aug 07, 2007 9:02 pm

We've had a number of discussions on preservation--see the FAQ's--and one large argument about oxidation, in which I contended that the majority of spoilage in long-opened bottles was due simply to evaporation of alcohol and other volatile elements. Leave a dram out overnight and taste it the next day, and you'll see what I mean. I wouldn't say there's no such thing as oxidation--a chemical process--in whisky, but the majority of the time, I think the word is used rather carelessly.

--Which doesn't mean that your Dalwhinnie isn't oxidized! I don't know what that would do--oxidation in wine produces specific flavors, I think, and if I'm not mistaken it's done intentionally in madeira and the like. Mr Fjeld or one of the others with wine experience can address that. I can't think that exposure to plastic wrap for a period of years would be a good thing, either. Ultimately, I think it doesn't much matter what the deal is--the stuff is no good, and the drain was the proper place for it.

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Been there, done it...

Postby Muskrat Portage » Wed Aug 08, 2007 4:11 am

I did a taste test in the forums earlier this year with some Irish whiskey and had the results verified by a Judge (a real court type one) after a 24 hour period. The open ones tasted pretty much like water. I supected, due to the volatiles evaporting. I expect the Dalwhinnie 15 had gone the same route, just over a longer period of time. You were right to pour it out.
(OMG did I just favour pouring whisky down the drain - I guess there is such a thing as a bad whisky!) Patrick, my apologies http://www.whiskymag.com/forum/viewtopi ... ght=#35290
JR: I strongly recommend you find a fresh bottle and try it as I do enjoy the Dally 15.

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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Aug 08, 2007 4:36 am

Musky, Dalwhinnie is bottled at 43%. If it loses even a small fraction of its alcoholic content to evaporation, it isn't whisky any more, and you don't have to feel bad about pouring it down the drain!

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Postby Reggaeblues » Wed Aug 08, 2007 12:52 pm

I've encountered an almost empty decanter of Lagavulin at a friend's house, which we keenly set upon. it tasted like lightly peated yeasted water...

Have also encountered a glenfiddich in a pub that was sweeter than the sweetest southern comfort...i actually asked for my money back. then i noticed the culprit - a "spout" in the bottle where a cork should be...

Same thing with a bushmills 10YO in a wine bar. yuckily sweet, no character or finish...and the dreaded spout! the stuff( a good half bottle) had also gone dark and murky through contact with the air, and looked like it contained all kinda pond life. I "educated' the head barman, who promised to pour it down the sink...or serve it to unsuspecting punters wanting JD and coke! either way it had been dispensed with last time i was there...and the "house" glenmorangie safely stoppered with a cork!

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Postby Lawrence » Wed Aug 08, 2007 6:24 pm

Generally whisky that has suffered prolonged exposure to air "collapses" and it tastes more watery that anything else. I have a single ounce of Black Bowmore that I have kept in the bottle (the remaining contents, naturally, is air) and I tasted a tiny bit after a few years, it was horrible. You can duplicate the results in a similar manner by simply leaving half an ounce or less in a glass open to the air over night. The resulting liquid is rarely recognizable as whisky.

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