Geek Choc strikes again! He had a random conversation with a friend the other day and decided to try an experiment with coffee beans. After thinking and looking through our selection of whiskies at home, he decided to go with the Glenlivet Founders Reserve as it is light and mellow. The aim of the experiment is to create a more complex flavour for the Founders Reserve using two different coffee beans from Starbucks.
The details of the experiment are as below:
Whisky Base: Glenlivet Founders Reserve 400ml split into 200ml for each coffee bean style
Coffee 1: 10g of Guatemala Casi Cielo (Starbucks Signature)
Information: This is a medium roasted coffee bean that originated from the lush Antigua Valley. The roaster’s aim is to make this coffee balanced, smooth and rich. The tasting note is “Bright with a smooth cocoa finish”.
Coffee 2: 10g of Ethiopia Guji Bilida Bukisa (Starbucks Reserve – Premium Beans)
Information: The Ethiopia beans are harvested in a hilly area and originate from 750 small farmers around the area. Bilida Bukisa is a coffee-washing station and handles coffee from the region to help small farmers to send their coffee beans to all parts of the world. The tasting note is “Notes of lavender, lemon and blackcurrants”.
The Experiment Process
We put 10g of each style of coffee beans into the glass bottles before pouring in 200ml of Glenlivet Founders Reserve. The bottles that we used have a 250ml capacity. The idea is to let the combination breathe within the glass bottle. We parafilm the bottle opening and screwed the cap back on.
Start date: 20 April 2018
Start time: 18:30 hours
The colour of the whisky changed almost immediately, turning into bright amber. All the beans float at the top.
After three hours:
We noticed water mist on all sides of both bottles. The coffee beans expanded a little and some fell to the bottom of the bottle. Interesting to note that the beans did not all fall at the same time but are doing so almost one by one. We left the bottles and went to bed.
After 15.5 hours:
The next morning, I noticed water bubbles at the top of the liquid at about 10 am. When I shook the bottles gently, water bubbles are seen inside the liquid which held the Ethiopia beans. The Guatemala beans bottle only had water bubbles at the top of the liquid.
End of Experiment
We decanted the liquid and ended the experiment at the below date and time.
End date: 21 April 2018
End time: 15:10 hours
The liquid turned dark amber and the nose was full of coffee liqueur and flavours. Wow…intense flavours!
To enable comparisons of the transformed liquid with the original tasting profile of the Founders Reserve, we included the producer’s tasting notes for your references.
Founders Reserve Official Tasting Notes:
Colour: Pale Gold
Nose: Delicate aromas of citrus fruits, notably sweet orange
Palate: Sweet, fruity notes of zesty oranges and pears, with a hint of candied toffee apples. Well-balanced and exceptionally smooth.
Finish: Long, creamy and smooth
Experiment A: Founders Reserve x Guatemala Casi Cielo Coffee Beans (Starbucks Signature)
Colour: Dark Amber
Nose: Coffee liqueur, dark chocolates, and unidentified mellow spice. Hints of oranges and caramel.
Palate: Mellow spice, dark chocolates, hints of caramel and oranges at first. Then comes a little oakiness follows by coffee bitters.
Finish: Short to medium finish, with oak and coffee bitters. In the end, a short spur of orange sweetness comes and goes.
Body: Relatively balanced but a little bitter for our liking.
Experiment B: Founders Reserve x Ethiopia Guji Bilida Bukisa (Starbucks Reserve)
Colour: Dark Amber
Nose: Dark chocolate, coffee, oranges and some surprising vanilla notes. Creamy, almost like an ice cream soda drink without the fizz.
Palate: Oily mouthfeel with orange zest, dark chocolate, vanilla cream and hints of sweet candy in the back of the mouth. It does taste a bit like a well-made kopi o kosong! Haha!
Finish: Short to medium finish, with coffee notes, orange zest and some vanilla notes.
Body: Balanced and much tastier than the other one. Maybe it is due to the premium quality of the coffee beans? Hahaha…
It appears that the whisky has held on to its core characteristics even in the onslaughter of the coffee beans in the small glass bottle. The warm climate made the interaction intense and the whisky absorbed some flavours from the coffee beans. Notably, dark chocolate comes out at the top of the list, and the obvious coffee liqueur notes. What’s really intriguing is that the whisky retains that zesty orange flavour and its creaminess. With the dry coffee beans absorbing the liquid, one would expect the whisky to lose its creaminess.
We may have over-aged the liquid as it is slightly bitter to taste for the Guatemala beans. If we try this experiment again, we will conduct a comparison.
- 5g of beans in the same time frame
- 10g of beans in a much shorter time frame
The comparison will tell us if we have over-aged the liquid for this one!