Sat. Jul 13th, 2024

Air affects bourbon primarily through the aging process and oxidation. The interaction between the whiskey and the air can play a role in shaping the flavor and characteristics of bourbon over time. Here are a few ways in which air can impact bourbon:

  1. Aging and Oxidation: When bourbon is aged in oak barrels, the wood interacts with the liquid, imparting flavors, colors, and tannins to the whiskey. As the bourbon ages, it also undergoes oxidation, which involves the interaction of the alcohol molecules with oxygen in the air. This oxidation process can help mellow and refine the bourbon flavors, making it smoother and more complex.
  2. Evaporation and Concentration: During aging, some of the bourbon evaporates through the oak barrels. This evaporation is often referred to as the “angel’s share.” As the bourbon evaporates, its flavors become more concentrated due to the loss of water and alcohol. The interaction with air also plays a role in this concentration process.
  3. Breathing in the Bottle: Once a bottle of bourbon is opened, the exposure to air can cause subtle changes in flavor over time. This change is similar to what happens with wine after it’s uncorked. Some people believe that allowing a bottle of bourbon to “breathe” shortly after opening can enhance its flavors and aromas.
  4. Aging Conditions: The environment in which bourbon is stored during aging can influence how it interacts with air. Factors such as temperature fluctuations, humidity levels, and air quality can impact how the bourbon matures and develops its flavors.

It’s worth noting that while some oxidation can contribute positively to the flavor profile of bourbon, excessive exposure to air can lead to a loss of vibrancy and freshness in the whiskey.

Proper storage is a key component in keeping your bourbon fresh. Keeping the bottle tightly sealed and away from direct sunlight can help mitigate the negative effects of prolonged air exposure.

Ultimately, the influence of air on bourbon is a complex and nuanced aspect of the aging and enjoyment of this spirit. Distilleries often carefully manage the aging process to achieve the desired flavor profile, considering factors such as barrel selection, storage conditions, and the time the bourbon ages.

Click here for more Original Pours.