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View Full Version : Is an "acquired taste" really worth it?



sotnsipper
01-30-2009, 14:21
More and more I hear people say that particular brands have an acquired taste. My thinking on this is, if you try it and don't like it, is is really worth trying to make yourself like it? Could your money be better spent on something you really like? I particularly hear this a lot of certain scotches. Me personally, if i try it and don't like it, I leave it alone. I have learned this from past experiences on trying to get the acquired taste people seem to like. How about you? Do you keep trying any bourbons to see if you can acquire the taste others describe around here?

callmeox
01-30-2009, 14:28
I don't reject any bourbon after one sampling. There are too many variables involved to not give most pours another try if the first time around the block isn't satisfing.

With that in mind...

I think that the variety of styles of malt whiskeys make that different ballgame entirely. I find the bandaid/doctors office qualities of the really peaty malts to be irrevocably offensive and no amount of do-overs will change that.

If there's a specific quality like that in a bourbon or a style of bourbon, I've not encountered it (yet).

OscarV
01-30-2009, 14:29
I will give something several tries before I write it off if I don't like it the first few times.
I never liked the term "acquired taste" because it kinda sounds like you are forcing yourself to like it.

mozilla
01-30-2009, 14:29
If you like to build a library of labels to have available at your disposal...then it's ok not to like something, right away. You can keep it around and do comparison, side by sides, or just keep it there incase a friend wants to sample it.
Also, if you drink whisky in more than one way(straight)...you can mix it with soda....bitters....other bourbons...and so on.
I have heard that some pour unwanted bourbon down the drain on occasion. I believe that is going a little too far...I say send it to me and I'll stick it in a barrel for vatting. We can all have a pour when it comes back to life.

barturtle
01-30-2009, 15:36
The more whiskies you try, the more likely you are to like them all. So the more whiskies you try the more you should go back and retry those you didn't care much for in the past.

Lets say you like whiskey 1 and it has flavors A B and C

The you try whiskey 2 and it has flavors A B and D and you don't like flavor D much

Then you try whiskey 3 with flavors A E and D and you like E a lot, so much you barely notice D is in there.

If you were to go back now to whiskey 2 you may not find flavor D nearly as offensive as you did before, you may even find you like it now due to it's association with flavor E...

kickert
01-30-2009, 16:47
I don't reject any bourbon after one sampling. There are too many variables involved to not give most pours another try if the first time around the block isn't satisfing.



Very good advise.

George
01-30-2009, 17:24
I don't reject any bourbon after one sampling. There are too many variables involved to not give most pours another try if the first time around the block isn't satisfing.


Very good advise.

As a newbie, I'm discovering this as well.

T47
01-30-2009, 17:32
Bourbon for me was an acquired taste...I acquired it out of the blue! I've told the story before but I had tried some Canadian Whiskey about 12 years or so prior to my Bourbon discovery and thought it tasted like turpentine. I was a beer drinker and fruity mixed drink guy for the next 12 years when I tried a drink of Makers because it was what my father in law had on hand. From the first sip I enjoyed it. I think I was around 42 maybe? Then I discovered that I also enjoyed Canadian, Irish Whiskey, some aged Tequila, aged Rum, Red Wine and some Scotch as well.
I will say this; I tried a "peaty" Scotch and from the nose all the way through it was NOT for me. Who knows, maybe something will change in my taste buds in the next 12 years and I will try a "peaty" Scotch and find that my tastes have changed once again.
I still do not enjoy the flavor of Gin or Vodka, and am making no effort in that direction. I don't think I am willing to work through something that I really find distasteful. There are bottles I enjoy more or less than others and I continue to drink them all. I find the whole "taste" thing interesting, being that mine changed at some point without me being aware.
I guess I have just learned I will never say never when it comes to drink.

:toast:

The Boozer
01-30-2009, 18:40
Lets say you like whiskey 1 and it has flavors A B and C

The you try whiskey 2 and it has flavors A B and D and you don't like flavor D much

Then you try whiskey 3 with flavors A E and D and you like E a lot, so much you barely notice D is in there.

If you were to go back now to whiskey 2 you may not find flavor D nearly as offensive as you did before, you may even find you like it now due to it's association with flavor E...
__________________
Grand Imperial PooBah Barturtle

That looks like a story problem - way too much math!! - I need a drink
TJ

ILLfarmboy
01-30-2009, 18:52
The more whiskies you try, the more likely you are to like them all. So the more whiskies you try the more you should go back and retry those you didn't care much for in the past.

Lets say you like whiskey 1 and it has flavors A B and C

The you try whiskey 2 and it has flavors A B and D and you don't like flavor D much

Then you try whiskey 3 with flavors A E and D and you like E a lot, so much you barely notice D is in there.

If you were to go back now to whiskey 2 you may not find flavor D nearly as offensive as you did before, you may even find you like it now due to it's association with flavor E...


I agree. Imagine that.

I had planned on responding to this thread in much the same way. I think any acquired taste follows much the same pattern. What you like about it keeps you coming back and what you don't like about it you find more tolerable over time until that to becomes part of what attracts you to that food or beverage.

funknik
01-30-2009, 19:18
I agree 100% with Timothy & Brad: the more I'm exposed to, the wider my appreciation and I find flavors that I was at first turned off by can become memorable and subsequently very enjoyable. I like to be able to enjoy things that previously were difficult for me to appreciate -- it makes me feel like I'm getting somewhere and this whole bourbon experience is worth it.

cowdery
01-30-2009, 19:22
The expression "acquired taste" is easy to criticize in the way sotnsipper does. I think saying "it's an acquired taste" was just a polite way of saying "you may have a different opinion when you grow up." Kids tend to like very simple tastes. Most of us crave a greater variety of sensations as we get older. We fancy that as sophistication. I agree that drinking whiskey, or anything, shouldn't be a chore. It's not like forcing down brocolli because it's good for you. The purpose is pleasure so what pleases you is all that matters.

TNbourbon
01-30-2009, 21:46
If you'll excuse a random comment from a relative newcomer (again), might I suggest an exercise:

buy a bottle of orange soda. Tip it up and drink as much as you can. I suspect at least a few of us can drink the whole bottle at one 'pull'.
Okay, now try that with 375ml bottle of any bourbon you choose.

Now, I once saw Fred Noe chug 1/3-bottle (of a 750ml bottle) of Knob Creek, but he's a professional. How much whiskey did you get down? (Something less than 1/3-bottle, I'd guess).
My point? Well, of course, it's that bourbon/whiskey IS (always) an acquired taste. It ain't easy to drink! That's why we drown it in cola, ice it to tastelessness, or sip it in such small quantities a bottle can resemble a lifetime supply!
There are a few bourbons I don't seek out or relish, and am quite content to forsake hereafter. There are a lot more I will welcome any time I'm offered a taste, in whatever form. There are some I will pay a day's wage for to taste again.
I didn't always feel that way. I acquired the taste.

ILLfarmboy
01-30-2009, 22:06
I know where you are going and there is a good bit of truth to what you are saying but I'd say the high alcohol content would be the greatest impediment to "chugging". Similarly, I like a hot cup of Earl Gray but I don't think I could chug a scalding cup of tea.

cowdery
01-30-2009, 22:24
Tim is absolutely right and that's probably the best description I've seen of what "acquired taste" really means. The meaning is buried in the euphemism, as it has nothing to do with taste. It has to do with tolerance, conditioning the gag reflex as much as anything. I suppose you could also condition yourself to drink tea at ever hotter temperatures if you so desired, and in that sense the analogy works.

Drinking eight ounces of full proof whiskey in one pull? That is how a lot of those Kentucky boys roll.

ILLfarmboy
01-30-2009, 22:44
Tim is absolutely right and that's probably the best description I've seen of what "acquired taste" really means. The meaning is buried in the euphemism, as it has nothing to do with taste. It has to do with tolerance, conditioning the gag reflex as much as anything. I suppose you could also condition yourself to drink tea at ever hotter temperatures if you so desired, and in that sense the analogy works.

Drinking eight ounces of full proof whiskey in one pull? That is how a lot of those Kentucky boys roll.

I see what you mean. I took it too literally.

Tipping a bottle and having a couple three bubbles 'go up' is one thing but eight ounces in one pull. I've never tried it. And I don't intend to. Frankly, I wouldnt want to risk having it come back up. feel free to call me a wuss.............

callmeox
01-30-2009, 23:02
Wuss



(padwusspadwusspadwuss)

ILLfarmboy
01-31-2009, 10:10
Wuss



(padwusspadwusspadwuss)



:lol: :lol:

I suspect you enjoyed that. A little too much :lol:

But then, I did open myself up for it.:rolleyes: :lol:

fishnbowljoe
01-31-2009, 23:46
To me, it's a little more complicated than acquiring a taste for a particular type/brand/bottle of bourbon. I'll do my best to explain what I mean without screwing this up too much.

The meaning is buried in the euphemism, as it has nothing to do with taste.
I agree with the first part of Chuck's statement. I hate the rhetoric when someone (especially a beer drinker) tells their friend that "you have to acquire a taste for it." No offense meant towards beer drinkers. Its kinda like Scott said,

I don't reject any bourbon after one sampling. There are too many variables involved to not give most pours another try if the first time around the block isn't satisfying.

I disagree somewhat with the second part of Chuck's statement. I do believe it has everything to do with taste. Maybe not so much training your sense of taste (re:gag reflex), but maybe a combination of reconditioning/redirecting your taste and changing the way you think. One's mind can be an obstacle to your other senses. One example I can give is, say I prefer bourbon ABC. Whenever I used to try a new bourbon, I would always subconsciously compare it to bourbon ABC. I failed to open up my mind and relax or cleanse my sense of taste. I disappointed myself more than once. But in reference to Scott's statement, most times when I revisit a bourbon I didn't care for the first time, more often than not it tastes a lot better the second time around. Ergo your subconscious was preparing you for a bad taste again. What I have learned lately is to try and taste a new bourbon without any preconceived notions. Again, sometimes this is hard for me. I read posts, or I'm in the chat room, and a lot of people are praising the taste of bourbon DEF. I go ahead and buy a bottle of bourbon DEF. Already, I have partially preconditioned myself a little because of all the comments about bourbon DEF. I taste bourbon DEF with high expectations. I might be put off a bit just because my tastes differ ever so slightly from everyone else's.

I suppose in the long run it's all relative. I think it's just a little strange what effect your mind can have on your other senses. It could be a case of mind over matter. If you don't mind, then it really doesn't matter. I sure hope this makes at least a little sense to some of you. Sometimes it's hard for me to put my feelings into words. (But I try hard:grin: ) Joe

sotnsipper
02-01-2009, 16:24
Well, it seems my question was answered in several ways. It is true that almost all bourbons are acquired tastes, but, I was really meaning more like one or two bourbons you have tried, maybe multiple times, but still do not like it. When talking to others, they tell you "Oh, well, that is an acquired taste." From that point, is it really worth it to keep trying it just to get the acquired taste? For me it is not. One example for me is the VOB BIB. I have tried this several times, keep giving it a chance to grow on me, but just cant make it. A guy I work with swears by it and keeps telling me it is an acquired taste. Now I know it is only $8 a bottle, but I can spend a little more and get something I already have a taste for.

callmeox
02-01-2009, 17:29
:lol: :lol:

I suspect you enjoyed that. A little too much :lol:

But then, I did open myself up for it.:rolleyes: :lol:

An underhand toss like that is very rare around here. :grin:

The Boozer
02-01-2009, 20:32
My $0.02 worth

I don't get the earlier examples of chugging bourbon as an "acquired taste" example. Could (and like many, did) back in college but today, I would like to think I'm a lot smarter.

Its a matter of context. I will disagree with some other that "acquired is not really a taste". I am going to stray outside the bourbon world and use single malt scotch as my example. Certainly Lagavulin, Laphroaig & Ardbeg fall into the category of "acquired taste". Noboday new (or even experienced) to the whiskey world haeve liked these "out of the box", first timers, etc. Yet definitely these are some of the great single malts. Not for me even after trying several bottles, although I love another Islay - Bowmore. Got friends who love Lagavulin who agree its an "acquired taste".
In your case, Sotnsipper, it sounded like it was more condescending. If you have tried a couple of bottles and still don't like it, than "acquired taste" is crap. You don't like it and everybody's got different tastes. I agree with you - I don't mind re-trying something if its not a wallet breaker, but to shell out serious coin for something that I've tried several times and don't care for - no dice. Lagavulin is $75-$85 a bottle now in MI. There is a lot more bourbons I want to try before I re-try that whiskey.

TJ

cowdery
02-01-2009, 23:09
Well, it seems my question was answered in several ways. It is true that almost all bourbons are acquired tastes, but, I was really meaning more like one or two bourbons you have tried, maybe multiple times, but still do not like it. When talking to others, they tell you "Oh, well, that is an acquired taste." From that point, is it really worth it to keep trying it just to get the acquired taste? For me it is not. One example for me is the VOB BIB. I have tried this several times, keep giving it a chance to grow on me, but just cant make it. A guy I work with swears by it and keeps telling me it is an acquired taste. Now I know it is only $8 a bottle, but I can spend a little more and get something I already have a taste for.

"It's an acquired taste" is a euphemism, though to know exactly what it is a euphemism for you have to know something about the person saying it. Your friend doesn't have any special knowledge, though he sounds like he might like you to think he does. You could probably get used to drinking VOB BIB. It's also possible that at some later point in your tasting career it will appeal to you more. But if you don't care for it, you don't care for it, and that is perfectly okay. There are lots of other fish in the sea. Don't waste your time trying to figure out a way to like VOB BIB, or anything else.

I like VOB BIB not because I think it is necessarily an even better-than-average bourbon. I like it because it occupies a unique niche on the spectrum. Nothing else quite tastes like it. In part, that's because that distillery doesn't bottle that particular whiskey as any other expressions. With the exception of 1792, which is a different mash bill anyway, VOB is--at six years--considerably older than any of the other bourbons produced at Tom Moore.

Buffalo Bill
02-02-2009, 08:51
Acquired tastes can change as quickly as acquired bottles remaining in the bunker. The variables are exponential... season, age, time, air etc. I only write-off a bottle if it lacks in fundamentals. BB

NYtaster
02-02-2009, 18:23
Try it, you might like it. There is no use going through life hoping we are happy with what we know today.

Buffalo Bill
02-02-2009, 21:52
With the exception of 1792, which is a different mash bill anyway, VOB is--at six years--considerably older than any of the other bourbons produced at Tom Moore.

Chuck? What would be the closest to VOB-BIB out there today? Anything? BB

cowdery
02-03-2009, 08:52
There's still a VOB 100 proof, it's just not BIB.

ILLfarmboy
02-03-2009, 13:31
There are two factors at work. The acclimation to high proof spirits and acquired taste. I see where Tim and Chuck were coming from by addressing both in the same euphemism. But I think it would cause less confusion to address them separately.

One can certainly become acclimated to drinking GNS (vodka) at high proof or very dry gin martinis. But the gin drinker may very well find strong tasting whiskey unpalatable and it would have little to do with alcohol. But his past experience with gin will be helpfully in his acquiring a taste for bourbon or scotch in that he has already became acclimated to drinking spirits.

But in fairness to Chuck, part of acquiring a taste for whiskey is also developing the ability to taste beyond the ethanol. I would think tasting the difference between two gins with differing taste profiles requires less of this ability. But I'm just guessing. I'm not realy a gin kinda guy.

The question on my mind: does the acclimation to high proof spirits necessarily result in the ability to recognize the more subtle differences in taste profiles. I think the answer is no. But it does facilitate the acquisition of that skill. Its the first necessary step in the process.

funknik
02-03-2009, 13:49
The question on my mind: does the acclimation to high proof spirits necessarily result in the ability to recognize the more subtle differences in taste profiles. I think the answer is no. But it does facilitate the acquisition of that skill. Its the first necessary step in the process.
Very succinctly put, Brad. I agree 100%. I was able to drink high proof spirits straight long before I was able to appreciate the different flavors at play in whiskey. Had I not been able to tolerate drinking the whiskey first, though, I never would've gotten to this point. Now that I'm starting to taste the subtle flavors in whiskey, I notice it's easier to pick them out in other things....wine, coffee, beer, etc.

TNbourbon
02-03-2009, 21:04
Well, I think some of you misinterpreted my post as being about 'chugging' high-proof liquor -- and I'm used to that. It was not, but Chuck got it -- and I'm used to that, too.
My point was, primarily, that whisk(e)y, including bourbon, isn't a natural drink for humans, whatever the proof. Virtually nobody 'likes' one's first taste of un-diluted bourbon!
But, one comes to appreciate it through practice. Practice also cultivates a sense of properties -- you come to understand what whisk(e)y/bourbon is about, and what to expect and enjoy about particular versions of it.
Thus, tasting and appreciating our native spirit is definitely an "acquired taste". You don't really 'like' it, at first, but you come to appreciate its qualities with practice and experience. The same holds true for particular brands/labels.
How is that different, really, than opera or the symphony? (Other than hangover, I mean:grin:.)

sotnsipper
02-04-2009, 12:11
Well, I think some of you misinterpreted my post as being about 'chugging' high-proof liquor -- and I'm used to that. It was not, but Chuck got it -- and I'm used to that, too.
My point was, primarily, that whisk(e)y, including bourbon, isn't a natural drink for humans, whatever the proof. Virtually nobody 'likes' one's first taste of un-diluted bourbon!
But, one comes to appreciate it through practice. Practice also cultivates a sense of properties -- you come to understand what whisk(e)y/bourbon is about, and what to expect and enjoy about particular versions of it.
Thus, tasting and appreciating our native spirit is definitely an "acquired taste". You don't really 'like' it, at first, but you come to appreciate its qualities with practice and experience. The same holds true for particular brands/labels.
How is that different, really, than opera or the symphony? (Other than hangover, I mean:grin:.)

I got what you were trying to say. I was originally meaning more like if there is one particular bottle or brand that just does not set right with you or that everyone tells you that it is an acquired taste. I do know bourbon as a whole was a tad to the strong side when I first tried it. I would believe all alcohol would fit into the acquired taste category. I never really thought about that while posting though. Thanks for the input.

cowdery
02-04-2009, 16:49
"It's an acquired taste" is always a ephemism, not an expression with a precise meaning in it's own right. If somebody uses it, you need to find out what that specific person means by it, because what they mean may be different from what somebody else means when they say it.

If that person is talking about specific products within a category, specific brands or even specific expressions of brands, that person may be refering to what is, also euphemistically, known as a challenging whiskey. Often in bourbon-speak, these are very old products. In scotch people will say that about heavily peated whiskeys. It generally means (a) unfamiliar, and (b) intense.

But "it's an acquired taste" almost always means, "you might like it if you get used to it." But, in truth, the "might" means you also might not.

But sometimes when people say "it's an acquired taste," what they're thinking is, "you're a wuss."

funknik
02-04-2009, 17:07
But sometimes when people say "it's an acquired taste," what they're thinking is, "you're a wuss."
Chuck, you almost made me choke! Well said, sir! :slappin: