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Friday, June 26, 2015

Air in your whiskey: Another way to vary the natural flavors of whiskey

I love to try new ways to enhance my enjoyment of my favorite whiskeys. Early on, I was introduced to the water dropper method of adding water to my glass of whiskey to break up the sugars and lactones, releasing the natural aromas and flavors of the whiskey. It was surprising to me that the simple chemistry of adding water could create such noticeable effects on the experience.

Since then I have discovered on my own how the temperature of the whiskey can have a similar impact and that a couple of ice cubes did more than just cool my drink. As a matter of fact, I have
found that in my favorite bourbons, adding ice (or any method of cooling the whiskey) retarded my experience of the light flavors such as vanilla, caramel, and honey. My preference is to drink my whiskey neat, with water on the side to cleanse my palette.

Now I am playing with the effect that air has on my whiskey. Much like its impact on wine, the process of introducing air to your whiskey creates chemical reactions that change the taste. Introducing air can be accomplished with an act as simple as swirling your whiskey in your glass. Try this and hold the glass to your nose. Smell what the introduction of air is releasing. I have also read (but have not yet tried it myself) of the process of pouring half of your bottle of whiskey into an empty bottle and shaking it to create a dynamic introduction of air.

One method I have just now tried is the use of an aerator to introduce air into my whiskey. Specifically, the product I experimented with is the Domestik Adjustable Wine & Spirits Aerator.
The basic idea of any aerator is to quickly introduce air into the wine or spirit. I have tried both red wine and whiskey with some interesting results. 

As the whiskey pours through the aerator it is mixed up and air is introduced.  The molecules are agitated and separated in a reaction with the air and motion. Some say it makes it easier to detect flavors and aromas and smooths the whiskey. 

What I initially found was that the Domestik Aerator was incredibly easy to use and adjust and had a noticeable effect on my whiskey, it is a quality product and the fact that it adjusts makes it very versatile, eliminating the need for multiple aerators for wines and spirits.

In my blind taste test, I found that the whiskey that passed through the aerator was noticeably smoother, similar to a blended whiskey. My theory on this is that the aerator quickly creates a faster evaporation of alcohol. This mixing and evaporation have a blending effect producing a mellower taste.

The aromas, I felt, were less distinguishable. It is possible that this evaporated alcohol (still in the air in the glass) interfered with my ability to detect the aromas that I enjoyed in the non-aerated sample. Perhaps giving it a little time would return the aromas to the glass. I’ll have to try this.

My experience was thought-provoking enough that I have added this product to my toolbox for drinking whiskey. I am very interested in further experimentation with this device and, in particular, trying it with certain cask-strength bourbons and high-ABV scotches to see if it improves my enjoyment.

If you are like me and enjoy “playing” with your whiskeys to bring out a variety of experiences, you may want to try an aerator. I recommend the Domestik Adjustable Wine & Spirits Aerator.  It is an excellent product and the good folks at Domestik have been kind enough to offer a discount code for my readers. Just visit this link, and enter the code WHKING20 for a 20% discount.

I think the Domestik Adjustable Wine & Spirits Aerator would make an excellent gift for any whiskey enthusiast that enjoys experimenting with the many personalities of whiskey.

Have fun and cheers!

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Coffee Aged in Whiskey Barrels - I'm Intrigued!

I am always in favor of getting more whiskey into my life, so when I had the opportunity to combine it with coffee, I thought “I’m in!”  No, I’m not talking about coffee drinks or “making my coffee Irish” I recently encountered the guys at Cooper’s Cask Coffee and had the chance to try their product.

First off, let me start with the fact that I am not much of a flavored coffee type of guy.  I don’t like flavored creamers or syrups and normally don’t really care for flavored coffees. I prefer a strong French or Columbian roast and I drink it black.

What attracted me to this product was their processes.  Cooper’s Cask isn’t adding artificial flavors to their coffee beans, they are aging the coffee beans in whiskey barrels. When you place an order, they roast the beans and ship them to you.

From Cooper’s Cask website:

There are many myths about coffee, like dark roasts “will wake me up” and light roasts are weak or how coffee is coffee, just add cream and sugar.  But, it is more than just buying coffee beans online, much more.  Coffee should be enjoyed for its complex flavor, aroma, and small nuances like a fine wine or a smooth whiskey.  Just like the wine and distilled spirits, they both share an aging process in which the medium, oak barrels, imparts some flavor and complementary components into them.


We have taken this coffee to the next level, barrel aging.  Just like wine, bourbon, rum and whiskey are barrel aged to complement the flavors, we have found that barrel aging the unroasted coffee beans in used barrels has enhance and intensify the natural flavor of the beans.  We have skillfully selected a bean with the flavor notes and subtleties that will best match and complement the flavors imparted by the aromas left behind in the empty barrels.

Once a bean is roasted it has a relative short freshness period, usually a week.  After which the flavors start to degrade and oxidize.  Grinding coffee beans accelerates this process even faster.  That is why we only roast what is ordered and fresh.  

From the first moment when I opened to package of my shipment of Bourbon Barrel, I noticed the coffee beans had an additional aroma. At first I found it hard to identify, then I realized it was the bourbon smell absorbed from the aging process in bourbon barrels.

From the first taste you can definitely identify the bourbon flavors. It is very similar to a flavored coffee but without the syrupy sweet taste. I of course drank it black and enjoyed the flavors very much. It tastes like coffee but with additional levels to experience.

More from Cooper’s Cask website:

Many people may ask, “Isn’t this the same as flavored coffee?”.  It is completely different.  Flavored coffee is the process of adding a flavored syrup to the beans after it has been roasted to take on the predominate flavor.  Such flavors are made from artificial flavorings made from chemicals.  While this may be appealing to many people, the true flavor of coffee has been lost.  It is like ordering a fantastic cut of steak that is cooked to perfection and dumping ketchup all over it.  What do you taste?  Just the ketchup and a hint of steak.

If you are a fan of flavored coffees and want to take it up a level, a fan of whiskey and want to try something new, or you want a gift for that whiskey enthusiast in your life, I encourage you to check out Cooper’s Cask Coffee. I don’t think you will be disappointed.