16 March 2011
My friends D and P visited recently from the states, and among the plethora of wonderfully generous gifts they brought was a bottle of my favorite bourbon, Black Maple Hill 14yr. It's by no means the most complex or profound spirit, but there's a focused dry hay-like roastiness to it that I find very pleasing.
Over the occasional protests of people trying to cultivate chest hair, I tend to add a drop or two of water to most whiskies, as even a homeopathically small amount has the effect of dramatically opening a spirit's palate and aroma. But the other night I reached for a water glass that, unbeknownst to me, contained the remnants of D's Alka-Seltzer from that morning.
The effect was pretty mesmerizing. Particularly since we'd been hitting the 'Hill pretty hard by that point. The Alkaseltzer turned the ordinarily flaming-orange bourbon a deep cola-brown. P pointed it out from across the room before I'd taken a sip of the discolored whiskey and it took a few minutes of drunken forensic work to realize what had occurred. Until we worked it out I just assumed my friends had been trying to poison me.
I'd assume the brownness came from a sudden intense oxidation of the spirit. But the bubbles in Alkaseltzer are CO2. And furthermore, I nearly failed high school chemistry and have not studied it since. Can anyone more educated than me shine any light on this? I can attest that the affected bourbon did indeed taste like awful. I had to go fetch a whole new glass.
A profile of Black Maple Hill 14yr @ BourbonEnthusiast
A Black Maple Hill review and related cocktail recipe @ Cocktails365
A Black Maple Hill review @ AmericanHooch
Incidentally, reading all these bourbon reviews makes one really appreciate the relative eloquence of even your average dull-as-dishwater wine blog. The level of criticism in the former is typified by forehead-smacker descriptions like: "Sweet. But not too sweet."