Wine & Spirits

Scotch Needs to Breathe, Too

 Scotch Needs to Breathe, Too

We’ve all heard of the benefits of letting wines breathe before we swill them down. Well, the same physical principles also apply to spirits: Adding a little oxygen to the liquid starts to change it and open up the flavors that have been sitting there waiting for you. I have recently begun using an aerator when serving high-end/top-shelf spirits. It’s a great way to take an already spectacular liquid and make it just a little bit better (which is what we Americans, pleasure consumers that we are, are constantly seeking to do, right?). This technique seems to work best with Scotch, bourbons, and cognacs or liquids that have been aged and maybe spent time in a barrel. It tends to mellow and soften the flavors, removing some of the astringency. You can easily find the excellent Vinturi spirit aerator at Target for about $30, but you can also use a red wine aerator with the same success. It might be the best holiday present you ever buy for your boss—you know, the one who thought she had everything? You’ll be the hit of the holiday party. Now let’s see that Christmas bonus!


Johnny Michaels is the author of North Star Cocktails and a master mixologist at La Belle Vie and Icehouse.

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