Numbed Tastebuds?

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Numbed Tastebuds?

Postby ScotchPalate » Tue Jan 16, 2007 4:31 pm

I was tasting some Knob Creek Bourbon (aged 9 years) last night. It's 100 proof (50% ABV), I noticed something I noteced when trying the Balvenine 15 Single Cask (47.8% ABV). I noticed that the center of my tongue got a prickly feeling when moving the spirit over my tongue. The tastebuds feel numb and little prickly afterward (and for a while). Does anyone else get this? These spirits aren't even that strong compared the the 60% ABV Cask Strength Whiskies. Will my tongue get used to these higher strength whiskies or should I just plain avoid the higher ABV Cask Strength types?

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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jan 16, 2007 4:43 pm

I can remember thinking whisky at 40% was too strong to drink straight; I got quite a burn from it. One does become acclimated, and cask-strength drams are no big deal to me now. Some say the alcohol numbs the taste buds, but it seems to me that having become conditioned to high alcohol levels, I am actually better able to taste the whisky without being overwhelmed by alcohol. On the other hand, I don't have the most sensitive palate, anyway, and it may be I'm doing it all wrong.

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Postby irishwhiskeychaser » Tue Jan 16, 2007 4:49 pm

I am very similar to Mr T-H. Never had a great taste in comparison to others but I too find that I improve all the time as I taste more different whiskies and that I have gone from thinking 40% was strong to a situation that I drink most of my cask strengths neat.

However I also find that there will always be a whisky that burns a lot more than others but funnily it does not directly relate to the abv

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Postby KiwiBoyInJapan » Wed Jan 17, 2007 10:26 am

In my honest amateur opinion, I think it's the fault of those two whiskies.

A 100 proof bourbon sounds like paint thinner (does anybody else think the name Knob Creek is f**king funny?), and I find the Balvenie 15 Single Casks a bit spirity - A'bunadh at 59.2% goes down easier.

So that is my two cents worth.


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Postby peergynt323 » Wed Jan 17, 2007 4:07 pm

There are more factors than just alcohol content to that alcohol "burn" that one gets. I once heard that it was not the alcohol itself, but the biproducts of fermentation that cause it.

There is more flavor in cask strengths because of the concentration. Diluting a whisky down to 43% ABV will dilute the flavors as well. I don't think the ABV rule works across the Scotch-Bourbon border though.

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Postby Bulkington » Wed Jan 17, 2007 6:09 pm

I wonder if that tingly feeling is where "it'll put hair on your tongue" comes from. I avoid cask-strengths for that reason.

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Postby TheLaddie » Thu Jan 18, 2007 3:16 am

KiwiBoyInJapan wrote:does anybody else think the name Knob Creek is f**king funny

They could have called it "Creaky Knob"...

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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Jan 24, 2007 11:47 am

During a Masterclass we were once told that the age of a whisky can be determined by where the tingle (or burn) occurs on your tongue.

This is something I haven't yet mastered, but I have noticed that the tingle does occur on different parts of the tongue with different whiskies.

Some I have tasted have performed just as ScotchPalate noted - right down the centre of the tongue, whereas others only seem to affect the back of the tongue or the sides.

If anyone can help by adding information to this theory, please post here as I would like as much info on this as possible.

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Postby EdipisReks » Tue Jan 30, 2007 3:39 am

KiwiBoyInJapan wrote:does anybody else think the name Knob Creek is f**king funny?)

Knob Creek, Kentucky was one of the boyhood homes of Abraham Lincoln, and the bourbon is named after it in his honor.

regarding the OP, i find that you definitely get used to the higher alcohol content. once you get used to it, you'll find all kinds of tastes hiding under the alcohol. i rarely notice alcohol burn anymore, though i did find the first 100+ proof whiskey i ever drank to be unpleasant due to burn.

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Postby Rory B Bellows » Wed Feb 14, 2007 10:27 pm

I have a running hypothesis that all of our tastebuds are becoming numb.

Most non-scotch drinkers I know all think I have an iron stomach, and make comments like that after trying gentle malts like Dalwhinnie. I don't even feel much of a bite off of the likes of Laphroaig anymore. I still haven't gotten used to cask-strength, but do enjoy a small dram of them. This "numbing" is why I think cask strength malts are so popular amongst seasoned drinkers: because its harder to impress them with bottlings with a "mild" bite. It may also partially explain why seasoned drinkers often complain that "-------- isn't as good as it used to be".

Any thoughts on this?

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Postby Elagabalus » Wed Feb 14, 2007 11:35 pm

Saying knob creek at 50% is like paint thinner is quite moronic.

There are tons of stronger drinks out there. Grappa for one. Try some plum or pear brandy from Eastern Europe they are stronger too and hella tasty.

Any spirit with 50% alcohol is hardly paint thinner. Everclear I can see, but that's what like 93% alcohol???

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