Do spirits (cognac/brandy/whiskey) age?

Discussion in 'Geek Grog & Homebrew' started by sydney_kings, Apr 4, 2006.

  1. sydney_kings

    sydney_kings Member

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    Well, they say a fine wine gets better with age...
    Does this go for cognac/brandy as well? Would a old bottle of brandy taste any different from a newer bottle?

    Some say the high alcoholic content kills all the good bacteria as contained in wines, so high alcoholic content does not "age".

    I recently read this article which has rekindled my curiousity:
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/money/just-a-wee-deoch-an-doris/2006/03/27/1143441084630.html

    Now, why would a person want to pay for a older bottle of scotch when there should not be any difference to todays bottle (if the high alcoholic content killing bacteria philiosophy holds)?
     
  2. ReaLaZy~*

    ReaLaZy~* Member

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    from what i heard , yes they do age but in a different way ...
     
  3. The King

    The King Member

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    As far as I know, and I could be completely wrong (would be a first though) spirits don't age in glass bottles.
     
  4. orbisfactor

    orbisfactor Member

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    for the flavour, the longer it sits in the barrel 'aging' the more flavoursome it becomes, atleast thats my understanding.
     
  5. 192.168.0.1337

    192.168.0.1337 Member

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    As far as I know, for a lot of spirits, like whisky, the aging has to be done in the barrel. Once it's bottled, no more aging occurs. Whereas wines WILL age in their bottle, if stored well.


    The best red wines will age up to about 50 years, tops. Cheaper wines dont age well.

    Dont bother aging a wine under $20. A $20-$30 wine should be aged no more than 3 years. If youve got a nice $30+ wine, 6-10 years. Any more than that and you run the risk of ruining it. Only age a wine over 10 years if its exceptional quality, known to age well, and you know what youre doing :)
     
  6. stevenx

    stevenx Member

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    I'm a bit of a wine nerd so I have to say something here :) :)

    You're not entirely correct - only bloody good reds last fifty years. Off the top of my head there's nothing made in Australia in 1956 that's still drinkable. The 56 Grandge has been over the hill for the past twenty or thirty years. First growth Bordeaux like Latour, Lafite-Rothschild, Margaux, etc, are still mostly OK - but they cost a fortune. Even some older red and white Bordeaux is fine, as are some Champagnes, and various other white stuff and red stuff from around the world. There are some freaks, though - 1870 Mouton-Rothschild was still drinkable in 2005!

    Cheaper stuff does age well, though, as do plenty of whites.

    There are plenty of wines under $20 that will reward some cellaring. Some will last a few years, others will be in good form in ten years. There's also plenty between $20 and $30 that will cellar well, and plenty of $30 wines that will cellar longer than ten years. Of course, there are some $80 wines that won't last the week. I'm not entirely comfortable with cellaring estimates based on price - you gotta go by the wine!

    As an example, a sub $20 wine that cellars brilliantly is the Houghton White Burgundy. The 05 release is something like $8/bottle. I was fortunate enough to blind taste a 1996 recently, and it was stunning - even more so when the wine was revealed. Absolutely amazing - I think Houghton are trying to flog off their cellar release of this for $25 or so. Even then, it's a bargain. A red, under $20, that'll last ten years... check out the Seppelt Chalambar. Brilliant stuff.
     
    Last edited: Apr 5, 2006
  7. 192.168.0.1337

    192.168.0.1337 Member

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    Yeah I'm aware theres not many that last over 50 years. I'm no wine nerd though :leet: Im just going off what ive learnt off my old man over the years (most of the time, its when he's already been drinking, so some of it is hard to understand :D... and he's the kind of person who doesnt drink cheap wine anyway. Maybe thats why he told be nothing under $20 is worth keeping long term :p )


    Im just a casual wine drinker :) Thanks for the corrections. Might have to pick up some Houghton White for my collection.
     
  8. stevenx

    stevenx Member

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    Not a wine nerd? Lucky you. That stuff is seriously addictive. Doesn't help that I study the stuff, do a bit of work with it, and taste a lot of it... my bank balance hates me , but my cellar loves me :)

    He's missing out - at the moment there are some seriously good $20 wines around. Grape glut, and all that. Astute wine buyers can stockpile some brilliant wines now for not much money - wines that will reward a decade or so waiting.

    At $8 per bottle, it's worth buying a case of that Houghton stuff. I did, and I'm hoping to avoid touching it for at least five years. The 05 should last reasonably well. Very few wine critics rate it highly on release, or give it a long cellaring period, but they don't know what they're missing out on.
     
  9. jtir

    jtir Member

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    Taken from Wikipedia

    "VS (Very Special) or *** (three stars), where the youngest brandy is stored at least two years in cask.
    VSOP (Very Superior Old Pale), Réserve, where the youngest brandy is stored at least four years in cask.
    XO (Extra Old), Napoléon, Hors d'Age, where the youngest brandy is stored at least seven years in cask."


    So yes, cognac does get better with time in the oak barrels (not glass bottles).

    And for reference, the price for a bottle of Henny VSOP ~$80 compared to the Henny XO ~$180.
     
  10. snoopie

    snoopie Member

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    Also Richard Hennessy - produced by Hennessy, 'Richard' is a blend of over 100 eaux-de-vie aged up to 200 years. It is sold in a Baccarrat crystal blackman and is named after the founder of the company = 'spensive

    Hennessy VS, ~$50
    Hennessy VSOP, ~$70
    Hennessy XO, ~$190
    Hennessy Paradis Extra, ~$330
    Richard Hennessy, ~$1600
     
  11. jtir

    jtir Member

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    Yep, there are cognacs out there that do get aged over 50 years and over.

    Never had the opportunity to try that flagship 200 year one yet, one day :lol:
     
  12. scon

    scon Member

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    When cognac in barrels, the spirit is not actually ageing per se. What is happening is that the spirit is picking up characteristics from the oak barrels that it is being stored in. The spirit itself may be changing, but at a negligible rate. The point of this whole thing is that Cognac's are made to be drunk in the year of release.

    Also, with the Houghtons White Burgundy, be careful if you're putting away cases and cases to store for years, as I believe that only the best parcels of fruit go into the Museum Release wines. The Museum Release Wines are pretty special however... I think it's mostly made of Chenin Blanc and maybe some Semillon. Another cheap white that will happily go 10 years in a good vintage is the Tahbilk Marsanne.

    However if I was looking for whites to age, I'd be going for a Hunter Valley Semillon, Tyrrells Reserve Semillons will happily go that long and McWilliams Mount Pleasant will go that far in good years too and is a bargain at around 12-15 bucks.

    All that being said, this should probably be in the Geek Food area... Although discussing booze in the pub does kinda make sense.
     
  13. Sir Ghallahad

    Sir Ghallahad Member

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    Whiskey and the such when its bottled does not age. It is done when its in the barrels and fermenting etc.

    Thats why if you go to a bottle shop you can see 18YO single malt that has actually been sitting on the shelf for 5 years, is still the same price, or pretty much the same. As its still '18YO' whiskey.
     
  14. dink

    dink Member

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    I have to agree with you on this one. My brother has laid down some cheapie wines for 3 to 5 years. Last weekend he opened a bottle of $8 Banrock Station that was bought in 2001. It tasted pretty damn good for an $8 bottle.
     
  15. scon

    scon Member

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    If you're looking for some good sub $20 reds to cellar there's a few good ones like:

    Tahbilk (both their Shiraz and Cab will last)
    Penfolds Bin 28 & 128
    Hamilton (most of their reds)

    However, my fav bottle of last year that I got for $20 was the Browns of Padthaway Malbec. Current vintage is drinking beautifully now, thick, viscous, berry and violet flavours... Incredible value at that price. My fav over $20 was the Mr. Riggs Shiraz a total OMGWTFBBQ wine for me.
     
  16. da_neural

    da_neural Member

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    i presume it does as the different labels of jim beam or other spirits, ie black label, blue, red etc... indicate a different taste from my friends tell me that black label is quite sweet could be mistaken compared to others
     
  17. bl4ck32

    bl4ck32 Member

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    ive got numerous bottles of spirits that my dad put away years ago. Things like gin, and my personal favourite a 25+ year old bottle of Jim beam. Its got 5 generation of family on the side, when current bottles have 6. Its a darker brown than if u put a new bottle next to it, and doesnt have any sediment etc in the bottle, so id assume its still drinkable. Wonder what its worth if anything??
     
  18. scon

    scon Member

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    It probably is still drinkable, although I doubt it's worth anything, even wines that do improve with age don't really increase in value by a whole lot more. Quite often you can buy wine from Auctions (like Langtons) that is aged for cheaper than the current releases.
     
  19. The King

    The King Member

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    Did you read the first page where everyone said that spirits don't age in glass bottles? ;)

    The different labels obviously taste different, they are different.
     
  20. pinguspeedhawk

    pinguspeedhawk (Taking a Break)

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    I disagree, spirits can still mature in glass bottles, not as much as in OAK Casks, but they still will develop if stored correctly.

    You have to be careful tho, because you can ruin a perfectly good 8 or 12yo by holding onto it for too long and not looking after it.

    Also for some of the earlier posts, some cheaper red's can age extremely well. A $10 Ready to drink Shriaz will sometimes turn out better then a poorly cellared 5 year old Grange.
     

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