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Parkersback
01-11-2011, 07:56
As I seek to learn more about bourbon, and as I try new bourbon, I find that, as hard as I try to be "objective", other things besides the nose and taste play a role in what I am tasting.

The main one is what I read here and elsewhere about bourbon. Again, as I try to follow my own inclinations, I can't help but be swayed sometimes by the opinions of others. If many people say they are picking up a certain note in a whiskey, I'll tend to pick it up, too (and sometimes when I had not before). For example, I had never put a finger on the yeast note in some Beam products. But over the holidays, I picked up some JBB and right away, I noticed it. I still enjoyed it OK, but there it was.

Another factor that plays in to how something tastes to me is the price. Of course many of you have mentioned this. Weller 12 is under 20 here, and OWA is 23, and that makes both them taste pretty great, especially compared to the Stagg which I'm still getting my bearings with. I'm not sure if I'll spend another $70+ on it.

So now to the point of my thread. Another factor I've found that seems to influence how I taste something--or at least I find my self thinking about it from time to time--is the appearance of the bottle. Somehow the bottle and the bourbon sort of meld in mind with certain whiskeys, such that the packaging sort of relates to the taste. Some examples:

- I have a few bottles of ND Old Taylor, and that faded, dull yellow label sort of reminds me of an old butterscotch candy, one of the main notes in ND OT. As soon as I pull that bottle down from the shelf, the appearance of the bottle reminds me of it, and prepares me for that.

- Makers 46. I know, not a big favorite around here, but it was on sale and I had never tried it, and truth be told, I kind of like it. And now when I see the bright red top and the bright red badge of the bottle, it reminds me of/suggests the pronounced cinnamon flavor that MM46 has. (I know regular MM has the same red top, but I never buy MM. Plus, I never said this was rational).

- Finally, this one's kind of obvious, but the Four Roses Small Batch doesn't have what I'd call any rose flavors, but it does have some floral, fruit notes that I am reminded of as I look at the bottle.

So, are there any bottles that you can taste? Is there anything that especially changes the way that you taste something besides the taste?

ILLfarmboy
01-11-2011, 08:13
As I seek to learn more about bourbon, and as I try new bourbon, I find that, as hard as I try to be "objective", other things besides the nose and taste play a role in what I am tasting.

The main one is what I read here and elsewhere about bourbon. Again, as I try to follow my own inclinations, I can't help but be swayed sometimes by the opinions of others. If many people say they are picking up a certain note in a whiskey, I'll tend to pick it up, too (and sometimes when I had not before). For example, I had never put a finger on the yeast note in some Beam products. But over the holidays, I picked up some JBB and right away, I noticed it. I still enjoyed it OK, but there it was.

Another factor that plays in to how something tastes to me is the price. Of course many of you have mentioned this. Weller 12 is under 20 here, and OWA is 23, and that makes both them taste pretty great, especially compared to the Stagg which I'm still getting my bearings with. I'm not sure if I'll spend another $70+ on it.

So now to the point of my thread. Another factor I've found that seems to influence how I taste something--or at least I find my self thinking about it from time to time--is the appearance of the bottle. Somehow the bottle and the bourbon sort of meld in mind with certain whiskeys, such that the packaging sort of relates to the taste. Some examples:

- I have a few bottles of ND Old Taylor, and that faded, dull yellow label sort of reminds me of an old butterscotch candy, one of the main notes in ND OT. As soon as I pull that bottle down from the shelf, the appearance of the bottle reminds me of it, and prepares me for that.

- Makers 46. I know, not a big favorite around here, but it was on sale and I had never tried it, and truth be told, I kind of like it. And now when I see the bright red top and the bright red badge of the bottle, it reminds me of/suggests the pronounced cinnamon flavor that MM46 has. (I know regular MM has the same red top, but I never buy MM. Plus, I never said this was rational).

- Finally, this one's kind of obvious, but the Four Roses Small Batch doesn't have what I'd call any rose flavors, but it does have some floral, fruit notes that I am reminded of as I look at the bottle.

So, are there any bottles that you can taste? Is there anything that especially changes the way that you taste something besides the taste?

The orange cap on OGD BIB makes me think of orange and sometimes taste orange/spice in the whiskey.

nivto
01-11-2011, 08:21
I don't believe I've ever experienced the influence of a bottle on how the whiskey inside tastes to me, but I am definitely guilty of reading somebody else's tasting notes and then picking up (or imagining I am) those flavors and aromas in my own glass. That is why I enjoy blind tastings. They force you to wipe out all preconceived notions of what the whiskey in your glass should taste like regardless of other's opinions, the price you paid, or the aesthetics of the bottle.

unclebunk
01-11-2011, 08:46
I don't believe I've ever experienced the influence of a bottle on how the whiskey inside tastes to me, but I am definitely guilty of reading somebody else's tasting notes and then picking up (or imagining I am) those flavors and aromas in my own glass. That is why I enjoy blind tastings. They force you to wipe out all preconceived notions of what the whiskey in your glass should taste like regardless of other's opinions, the price you paid, or the aesthetics of the bottle.

I have a particular friend who stops over weekly who is extremely influenced by price and the aesthetics of bottles but when I transfer bourbon to a nice crystal decanter I can get him to enjoy much less expensive whiskey, provided I don't tell him what it is. (When he asks, I tell him it's "mystery whiskey!:grin: ) I think I'll invite him over for a few blind tastings to see how that shakes out but I'm afraid his hard-headedness will prevail, as he always seems to revert to his former opinions when the truth comes out about what he's been drinking.

White Dog
01-11-2011, 08:46
Unless you're tasting blind, there's always some type of mental influence. I recently found some Old Fitz BIB 1985 D.S.P. 16. I tasted it side-by-side with current HH Old Fitz BIB, and certainly preferred the S-W juice, but I wasn't tasting blind. I expected to prefer the S-W, but who knows what I would have thought if I couldn't see the labels.

unclebunk
01-11-2011, 08:58
Unless you're tasting blind, there's always some type of mental influence. I recently found some Old Fitz BIB 1985 D.S.P. 16. I tasted it side-by-side with current HH Old Fitz BIB, and certainly preferred the S-W juice, but I wasn't tasting blind. I expected to prefer the S-W, but who knows what I would have thought if I couldn't see the labels.

I think you're right, Dog. I just emptied a second decanter and might try an experiment: I'll have my wife fill them each halfway with something from my liquor cabinet and drink them for a week or two without checking to see what she picked out. Then I'll have "real" mystery whiskey and can judge them purely on taste and aroma. Could be fun!

sku
01-11-2011, 08:59
Why don't you try some blind tastings. Line up a few bottles and have someone do some pours for you without telling you what they are. Then you can really see how much of your tasting is due to outside influences.

silverfish
01-11-2011, 09:19
The main one is what I read here and elsewhere about bourbon. Again, as I try to follow my own inclinations, I can't help but be swayed sometimes by the opinions of others. If many people say they are picking up a certain note in a whiskey, I'll tend to pick it up, too (and sometimes when I had not before).

I've been drinking JD for 30+ years and never once did I detect a banana
flavor until I read it here and on BE. Not that it was ruined for me but now
it's what I always think of when drinking JD.

As far as bottle influence, I don't think this has ever been a factor except
maybe on a subliminal level and not something I noticed (until now!)

p_elliott
01-11-2011, 09:51
Every time I look at a Willets bottle I think of wine and I am turned off by it.

pepcycle
01-11-2011, 10:29
I like the preview flavors and anticipation that comes with pouring something that I have experience with from its original container. I especially like when I'm surprised with a new experience from that old friend.

On the other hand, I love when I pour something from the decanter and can't remember what it is. The wheels start turning and the deductive process starts.

I depend on The Patty to rescue me and after doing a mental checklist, I try and make sense of what just happened. Was I way off base? Was I close? Its just another path to discovery.

There is definitely room for both the total experience (Bottle, glass, friends, food, room, serving condition etc) and the controlled blind experience.

unclebunk
01-11-2011, 10:55
On the other hand, I love when I pour something from the decanter and can't remember what it is. The wheels start turning and the deductive proces starts.

My problem is that my wheels are moving slower these days and I still have one that I can't figure out for the life of me!:lol:

callmeox
01-11-2011, 13:33
Every time I look at a Willets bottle I think of wine and I am turned off by it.

I have the same kind of experience, but the opposite effect.

Every time go for a pour of the Willett Pot Still Reserve I think of a young Barbara Eden dressed as I Dream of Jeannie and then my mind wanders off and I forget about the bourbon until I find the bottle on the counter later on and then the cycle repeats.

Josh
01-11-2011, 13:53
Some people are more into OFBB

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/showpost.php?p=166297&postcount=42

Brisko
01-12-2011, 08:51
The orange cap on OGD BIB makes me think of orange and sometimes taste orange/spice in the whiskey.

For what it's worth I've only had the OGD 114 and I usually find orange zest in there, too.

But the power of suggestion is pretty real. One of the ways I supplement my income is as a freelance trombonist, and I teach some private lessons on the side, too. I always, always urge my more established students to learn new solo lit on their own, without resorting to recordings, until they've developed their own interpretation. Otherwise, they tend to just copy the first recording they listened to, even if they aren't doing it consciously.

I think that might be analogous to tastings. Others have mentioned the effect of someone else's tasting notes on our own perceptions. I think it's very real. I try not to read too many notes on things I haven't tasted, save to get a handle on quality or basic style. Once I've spent some time with a whiskey, I start trying to read a lot more opinions (if nothing else, to help calibrate my own).

CorvallisCracker
01-12-2011, 12:55
Every time go for a pour of the Willett Pot Still Reserve I think of a young Barbara Eden dressed as I Dream of Jeannie and then my mind wanders off and I forget about the bourbon until I find the bottle on the counter later on and then the cycle repeats.

How do you break out of that cycle?

On topic, I've never experienced the descrbed phenomenon, and although the WT I'm usually drinking on Thanksgiving seems to have some turkey on the nose, I think that's the one in the oven I'm smellin'.

RickF
01-12-2011, 13:40
Visual and auditory cues have a strong impact on most people's perception of taste. That is why many professional taste tests are performed not only blind, but in a quiet room with monochromatic light so that sound and color do not influence taste.

callmeox
01-12-2011, 14:17
Many who have visited Bardstown for the Spring or Fall events have experienced the same situational bias, aka The Gazebo Effect.

smokinjoe
01-12-2011, 16:02
Many who have visited Bardstown for the Spring or Fall events have experienced the same situational bias, aka The Gazebo Effect.

Only the Bicentennial Bottling of Bourbon Supreme is immune to the pleasure enhancements of the Gazebo Effect. :D

squire
01-16-2011, 11:44
I like to know which bottle is being poured because that builds expectation. As for changes I wish Four Roses small batch would have red roses on the label.

callmeox
01-16-2011, 12:15
Only the Bicentennial Bottling of Bourbon Supreme is immune to the pleasure enhancements of the Gazebo Effect. :D

Yes, there are some expressions that can't be saved. :grin:

They often pause for a bit on the rail and are later found in the lawn.

Flyfish
10-31-2011, 06:40
I like the preview flavors and anticipation that comes with pouring something that I have experience with from its original container. I especially like when I'm surprised with a new experience from that old friend.

On the other hand, I love when I pour something from the decanter and can't remember what it is. The wheels start turning and the deductive process starts.

I depend on The Patty to rescue me and after doing a mental checklist, I try and make sense of what just happened. Was I way off base? Was I close? Its just another path to discovery.

There is definitely room for both the total experience (Bottle, glass, friends, food, room, serving condition etc) and the controlled blind experience.

Pepcycle, you and unclebunk both refer to pouring bourbon from a decanter. The only place I have seen bourbon in a decanter is in really old movies. Just wondering how many SBers use decanters and how many decanters you might have when there are a couple dozen open bottles at your bar.

Gillman
10-31-2011, 09:04
I think packaging format does have an influence. The more the bottle has a luxury look, the more one tends to think the whiskey is good, or it might give other cues as people have described. Marketers know this I'm sure and it is an entirely legitimate strategy. On the other hand, experienced tasters aren't trumped by the bottle, this has been shown time and again. Many here would agree that some of the best whiskeys they've had come from unattractive packages. Of course too there are some excellent whiskeys from classy packages.

The blind tasting, which Ed described a form of, is something that should be resorted to more often. The whiskeys often "taste" different this way, and you learn a lot about them without the preconception of bottle, label, knowledge of that whiskey's profile (real or apparent), etc. For example, when I drink Old Forester I always have it in my mind that it should have a rich, extracted kind of taste, because I know they use cycling and more cycles "should" (in my mind that is) lead to that taste. But maybe it doesn't, or not all that time.

I have a bottle of Silver Select that is very un-Jack Daniels IMO. I doubt anyone would pick it out in a blind tasting as not a bourbon or from Lynchburg.

It is good therefore to approach whiskeys sometimes without preconception, which leads again to the point Ed made.

We should taste blind more often at Gazebo too, not by way of competition, but just for what you could learn from it.

Gary

P.S. The banana notes in Jack Daniels - one day I'll do a search on SB as it would be interesting to see who first used the adjective in regard to Jack - is surely a fusel oil trace, perhaps a higher alcohol. (Ethochem: it's not your product, but any theories?). IMO, recent bottlings of Jack have deemphasized this taste. Some hardly have it, some have it more, but it's not as strong as in past years and the whiskey in general seems better, richer and more balanced.

silverfish
10-31-2011, 09:14
Just wondering how many SBers use decanters and how many decanters you might have when there are a couple dozen open bottles at your bar.

I have a few decanters. One is very fancy looking and was a gift from
my wife a few years back. It is 24% Lead Crystal and currently has about
1/3 bottle of Booker's in it. The Booker's was purchased when it first
hit the market and I would occasionally have a pour. After learning about
lead content, I'm wary of finishing the remaining juice but can't bring myself
to dump it out.

The other two decanters are both JD related - the "genie" style bottle and
another that were both sold via their catalog years ago. Both have JD SB
in them.

Gillman
10-31-2011, 09:22
And undoubtedly as Scott said, there is a "Gazebo effect", and as Joe was implying, a limit to that in extreme cases. There are two reasons for the Gazebo effect: first and foremost IMO, people do not want understandably to offend a friend offering a taste of something he likes. I have had numerous whiskeys which were not great or (often for dusties) oxidised - oxidation in old whiskey has a telltale metallic/degraded taste - but I will almost never say so. Why hurt someone's feelings? I always say to people when I offer my blends, "be honest", but rarely does anyone knock them. I'd like to think that is because they are super-good, but I know that is sometimes not the case (maybe never!). Hey that is just being good folks: at the same time I respect honesty too and I never hold it against someone if they don't like something I've brought - honestly I don't because I know they mean the comment constructively. But more often than not bonhomie takes over.

The second reason is, the palate dulls after drink one or two, so often you can't tell anyway if something is good or not or its various fine points.

Finally, in the end, it's a drink, right? It's important but other values are more important in a setting such as Gazebo.

Gary

StraightNoChaser
10-31-2011, 10:16
P.S. The banana notes in Jack Daniels - one day I'll do a search on SB as it would be interesting to see who first used the adjective in regard to Jack - is surely a fusel oil trace, perhaps a higher alcohol. (Ethochem: it's not your product, but any theories?). IMO, recent bottlings of Jack have deemphasized this taste. Some hardly have it, some have it more, but it's not as strong as in past years and the whiskey in general seems better, richer and more balanced.
I did a little research on this about two months ago. The distinct aroma of bananas is thanks to a compound called isoamyl acetate (an ester), which is formed during fermentation due to the combination of acetic acid and isoamyl alcohol. My guess, if anything, is that the concentration of this compound in whiskey could be tied to the strain of yeast being used.

This, of course, leads me to believe that BF is using the exact same, or at least very similar, strains of yeast in ALL of their whiskeys because I get bananas from WR, OF, ET and of course JD.


Isoamyl acetate is a natural flavour ester, widely used as a source of banana flavour by the food industry. Fusel alcohols such as amyl alcohol are produced in significant quantities as a waste product, sometimes referred to as "lees oil" or "fusel oil", of the alcohol distilling industry. By manipulation of brewing yeast fermentation conditions, a significant portion of added amyl alcohol was shown to be converted to isoamyl acetate. This was achieved by the addition of L-leucine and amyl alcohol in fermentations carried out by a high ester-producing brewing yeast strain of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and by the use of alkaline fermentation conditions coupled with high gravity media. Mutant strains selected on 5,5,5 trifluoro-DL-leucine produced substantially high levels of isoamyl acetate. The adjustment of fermentation conditions outlined in this paper may act as a stepping stone for the potential use of Saccharomyces cerevisiae and other yeasts to produce high levels of natural flavour esters.

StraightNoChaser
10-31-2011, 10:26
I actually ruined all BF whiskey for a friend of mine when I told him about the banana thing. He didn't get it at first but eventually began to sense it in the nose. Now he hates all things BF, whereas WR used to be one of his regular pours :lol: oops

Brisko
10-31-2011, 11:09
I get a little of the banana in BF products but not a ton. I haven't had JD recently but 15 years ago when the #7 was our go-to drink I remember it being very present-- I remember discussing it with my drinking buds on more than one occasion. And we weren't nosing it, at least not on purpose.:grin:

I assumed it was a product of the distillation process, specifically where in the run you take the cut, and perhaps a little due to how high-proof it comes of the still. But your yeast theory is interesting.

I get some bananas in many (most?) Irish whiskeys and most recently a note of very green bananas in Old Cabin Still, a very young Heaven Hill product. And I can't recall ever sniffing something similar in HH whiskeys.

soad
10-31-2011, 11:56
Given the bright orange bottle, I cannot in good conscience drink anything else but OGD BIB this week.

I even swear I taste a little pumpkin in the BIB....but only after 3-4 pours.....:icon_pidu:

Gillman
10-31-2011, 13:50
An ester? Interesting. I don't get that in B-F bourbon though.

Gary

StraightNoChaser
10-31-2011, 14:27
An ester? Interesting. I don't get that in B-F bourbon though.

Gary
You will :lol: eventually

Gillman
10-31-2011, 15:07
How do you mean?

Gary

T Comp
10-31-2011, 16:28
Finally, in the end, it's a drink, right? It's important but other values are more important in a setting such as Gazebo.

Gary

Great point Gary and those values are what really make this hobby worth it...and worth the money getting to the gazebo too.

cds
10-31-2011, 16:32
The orange cap on OGD BIB makes me think of orange and sometimes taste orange/spice in the whiskey.


I just got a bottle of this after listening to Jason Pyle's review and I would swear that I can taste a hint of orange. I think Jason used the term orange jelly beans. Yes, I think I do taste that....

Josh
10-31-2011, 16:34
I just got a bottle of this after listening to Jason Pyle's review and I would swear that I can taste a hint of orange. I think Jason used the term orange jelly beans. Yes, I think I do taste that....

If Pyle says it, it has to be there.