We set out to answer a question that does not seem to have a good answer: “What happens to bourbon when stored in different real world conditions and fill levels over time?”
We went into this tasting thinking there would be little if any difference in the samples at the 6 month mark. However, that was not the case. The results were surprising. What follows is a summation of our opinions, however we want to stress that although most flavor differences we noticed were nuanced, they were confirmed blindly by two different tasters.
Read Part 1 of our Bourbon Storage Experiment for the complete details of the setup of the experiment.
How We Tasted:
For this tasting there were two of us blind tasting different sample flights. Despite this, we lined up fairly consistently on the results. We both agreed on the ⅓ fill closet sample being the best of the bunch and the full fill sunlight sample being the worst of the bunch. Combine this with the opinion we shared that the samples generally tasted better as more air was introduced and we were really surprised.
The introduction of oxidation for a 6 month period not only proved to help the taste of the bourbon stored in the dark closet and refrigerator, it also helped mitigate the negative effect of sunlight… maybe someone reading this who happens to be a chemist can weigh in on what might be happening with the oxygen and sunlight here. With that in mind, if you have a sealed bottled that’s been around for a little while and it tastes a little bitter or sour the first time you open it make note of how much time it might have spent in direct sunlight. Where were you storing it? Where was it stored before you acquired it? This is only the 6 month mark, but after this tasting we have a feeling the sunlight stored samples are going to get quite a bit worse over time. We don’t know what to expect from the other samples going forward, but we’d be quite surprised if the ⅓ fill samples continue to get better. It seems there would have to be a turning point, but we’ll just have to wait and see.
Our most important word of advice after this 6 month tasting: Keep your bourbon out of direct sunlight!
What We Noticed: