What is your experience with oxidation?
6 years ago
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Hello, Wodha! I have posted extensively on this subject, and frequently include it as an important point in my reviews, particularly when I haven't liked the whisky until some degree of oxidation has occurred. Actually I am running quite an ongoing oxidation experiment, you might say, since we don't drink our whiskies fast enough to prevent those 150 currently open bottles from oxidising over at least 3-4 years.
My experience has been that some whiskies absolutely require some degree of oxidation to occur to find their stable identities. That amount can be minor or major, depending on the kind of whisky and whether there is some distillery produced defect involved, such as soapiness. Bourbons and ryes are frequently, usually, better after some oxidation. Many malts also need to open up to be at their best. Heavily peated and smokey whiskies lose some smoke in the nose after only 1-2 months, and some smoke/peat on the palate thereafter. They do seem to become sweeter though, with oxidation, which I like.
So far I have seen only a small number that I would say seriously declined in taste from oxidation within my collection: Macallan 10 Fine Oak, Highland Park 18 (after 8 months), George Dickel # 12 (after 12 months), one particular bottle of Thomas Handy Rye (after 4 months). I have seen MANY that I didn't like until bottle opened 3, 6, 12, 18, or even 24 months.
In sum, I usually see oxidation as a plus in the bottle opening to 8 months open timeframe, and sometimes well beyond that to 2-3 years. There are exceptions, though. I get concerned about my bottles at 18 months or more than 1/2 consumed, though, and try to check them to monitor whether they are sliding away in quality.
6 years ago 5Who liked this?
My car is ruined!
6 years ago 3Who liked this?
You definitely lose a significant amount of smoke within the first couple months. I tested it once, comparing Ardbeg 10 after three months with a miniature poured off from the new bottle:
(I was going to do more experiments but I don't do the blog anymore, and I lost interest)
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My experience has also been overwhelmingly positive with oxidation, though some of the lesser ABV peated Whiskies (below 45%) do tend to weaken. But I have a 12 yo CS Lagavulin that is just as fiery as the first day I opened it.
6 years ago 0
@Victor I started this discussion with you in mind. I've noticed your frequent mention of oxidation and thought we might as well make a formal discussion open to all for my personal benefit. :^) I rarely a bottle last more than a month but am interested in giving it a go "for science!" I like the idea of noting the first open date on a bottle then comparing it over time to freshly opened bottles. I am just finishing up the demolition of my mancave space and have started collecting a few interesting unopened bottles to stock the new shelves once they're set up. I should be in full operation by end of summer. Maybe some other Connosrs have some experience with long opened bottles they'd like to add?
@Wodha...'WhiskyJoe' and I both found that our bottles of Auchentoshan 12 had their flavour profiles intensify, fill out, and become more balanced after about the six month mark. My Evan Williams Single Barrel (2000) has had a very similar evolution (is there a basic, common evolution that shared by bourbons and their barrels?).
My Lagavulin 16 definitely lost the initial smokiness that 'Victor' commented about earlier in the thread. While saddened to see the smoke dissipate, the sherry influenced notes melded nicely with the peat to form a 'sweet peat' note that I have really enjoyed.
As others have mentioned, I too have had mixed results. However, most if not all whiskies I've tried require time to open up. At least a week or two and then a month or two before they stabilise. And in my experience, about 6 months before they start to decline (in humid sub-tropical Australia).
A couple of examples of oxidative effects on whiskies I've opened:
The smoke in Ardbeg Ten disappeared very quickly, at a quick guess about half had dissipated in the first week! After that, the peat changed character and the dram became more well rounded and more enjoyable.
The light, perfume-like plum nose of Hibiki 17 disappeared within a week or two of opening.
The Dalmore 12 was extremely closed and had a flawed nose on opening. It took a full month (possibly more) for the nose to really open up. The palate improved complexity and character dramatically over several weeks.
The stock Glenlivet 12 became slightly astringent and started its downhill slide at 6 months. Bottle level was 5/6 or greater since opening so this was somewhat unexpected. Still not a "bad" experience, but I will finish this quickly over coming weeks.
@Victor I have no idea how you manage to have that massive number of bottles open for so long. I'm pretty sure you've mentioned it previously, but do you do anything to "preserve" them (e.g. vacuum seal, wine preserver, decant to smaller bottles etc)?
6 years ago 2Who liked this?
@systemdown, I haven't taken active measures, yet, to preserve my open bottles, but you can be sure that if I start to see a substantial increase in the number of problem bottles that I will quickly seek out ways to forestall further negative progression. Decanting would probably be the first approach I would try. I would also consider the gas additives. Our whisky cabinet HAS become something of a large experimental laboratory for me.
My HP12, Lagavulin 16, Ardbeg 10 & Uigeadail all benefit from oxidation. Their taste mellows out a bit but that makes way for the other favors to shine.
The Balvenie Doublewood became very acidic after about 9months in the bottle. The Yamazaki 12 became very flat at the very end and my Abunadh seems to have lost some flavor.
I have not noticed any changes in my other bottles but that doesn't mean it's not there.
@victor - your notes on the subject have been superb, and I think we've all reaped the benefits of your knowledge.
@valuewhisky - I enjoyed the experiments on your site. While it is unfortunate that you decided to give up blogging, I fully understand the reasons behind it.
As for my own experience with oxidization, my bottle of Jura Superstition lost all complexity in the nose and palate after about a year. It was still ok, but there was very little peat and smoke left, and only then for the first few moments after pouring. That being said, I have a bottle of Amrut that has been open for nearly two years, and it has suffered no loss in flavour or complexity; I have, however, decanted it into a 37.5cl bottle, and have been decanting some of my other open bottles into 20cl bottles when necessary (this also frees up shelf space!)
I think my bottle of Dalwhinnie 15 has become oxidzed. It's become very spicy, much more so they when I first bought it.
@Victor Simple solution: Air tight, pitch black, nitrogen filled liquor room.
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