I didn’t think the complex and lingering flavors of a 16-year-old Lagavulin single malt Scotch could get any better. After all, this is one of the consummate classic whiskys, renowned for its smoky, peaty personality.
But when I poured a dram through the Vinturi Spirit aerator, my skepticism faded. I was astonished by the subtle but distinct enhancement of flavor. It was like jumping from DVD to Blu-ray.
A couple of years ago, Vinturi pioneered the single-glass aeration process with its now-popular red wine Vinturi aerator. It followed it a year later with an aerator specifically engineered for white wine. Of course, wine is a natural candidate for aeration, since its quality is known to change when exposed to air. Wine has to breathe to reach its ideal flavor potential — air helps to soften harsh tannins and cut the heat of higher alcohol levels. Spirits, on the other hand, do not age after bottling. But as the Vinturi device demonstrates, all spirits can be improved by mixing in a little O2.
The Vinturi Spirit is an acrylic, tear-drop-shaped thing about six inches tall. It has a built-in jigger with measuring lines, a no-drip holder, and a single button on the side to release the liquor into your glass. It operates in a similar fashion to Vinturi’s wine aerators. Simply pour the liquid into the jigger, place it over the glass, then click the button to release. Aeration is done.
I felt it was my duty to collect subjective data that in fact what the Vinturi Spirit can do for a fine single malt Scotch can be repeated with bourbon, vodka, rum, tequila, gin, sake, cognac and liqueurs. To test the device’s efficacy, I bravely volunteered to taste a variety of these spirits filtered through the decanting device. The test, performed blind, involved sipping a shot of each spirit in its unaerated, undiluted, out-of-the-bottle state, and another after aeration. The glasses were labeled “A” and “B,” and they were switched at random, so I wouldn’t know which of the glasses were aerated.
In each case, the aerated booze was immediately apparent. And I’m not just blowing smoke here — the damn thing really worked.
The harsh astringency of Johnnie Walker Red was softened by aeration, giving it a more nuanced flavor not obvious in its non-aerated state. The heather and honey glow of a 10-year-old E&J XO Brandy can always come to the rescue on a cold night, but put through the Vinturi, it seemed mellower and had a smoother, less alcoholic finish. And the cheap (really, really cheap) vodka tasted like varnish remover before aeration, but it was brighter and almost drinkable after its trip through the Vinturi.
I suppose you could achieve the same result by swirling the booze in your glass for 60 seconds or so, but the Vinturi has engineered just the right placement and number of aeration holes in the acrylic that the effect is achieved in three seconds with more dependable results than a subjective 60-second swirl.
WIRED Aerates any type of alcoholic spirit to bring out nuances of previously undetectable flavors and a smoother finish. Made of acrylic, so it’s not too fragile. Measuring lines mark 1-, 1.5- and 2-ounce pours.
TIRED Only does one shot at a time; a drag at parties. Got a group with varying tastes in booze? Get ready for lots of rinsing. Aerator has to be held directly over the glass, which becomes increasingly difficult to manage with each passing hour.