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CoMobourbon
03-03-2013, 08:20
Based on my own recent experience, I strongly recommend that everyone try this: take all of the bourbons from the same brand profile (or even from the same mashbill + distillery) and do a few comparative tastings. Specifically, I recommend that you do this comparative tasting blind. So, for example, take off-the-shelf bottles of Weller Special Reserve, Old Weller Antique 107, and Weller 12 (not sure if W.L. Weller of the BTAC belongs in the conversation, but maybe that too if you have it) and try them blind back-to-back . Take notes, identify differences, and assign ratings for yourself.

Any blind comparative tasting can be interesting, but the tasting format described above adjusts for mash bill and brand profile, highlighting other factors like age and proof. Most of the time when I drink and compare different whiskey pours, the whiskeys come from different brand profiles and even different distilleries. Most of the judgments I make about them and their defining characteristics (age, proof, etc.), then, are based on conjecture, memory, and extrapolation. Concurrent tastings of everything from the same line removes some of this ambiguity and really exposes what I like. (Do I really like more expensive? How much difference does the extra proof make? How much difference does the extra age make? How much difference does the special barrel selection make? etc.)

I will post my first try at this below: I lined up (small samples!) the Evan Williams green label, the Evan Williams black label, the Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond white label, and the 2003 Evan Williams Single Barrel.

Disclaimer: I could not find another thread with this premise, but I would be willing to believe that it exists.
Disclaimer #2: I don't have the EW 1783 around me, so I could not include it.

CoMobourbon
03-03-2013, 08:20
Last night, I did blind tasting of Evan Williams green label, Evan Williams black label, Evan Williams BIB, and the 2003 Evan Williams Single Barrel. I am usually content to just enjoy and compare different whiskeys side by side, but my friend is a science grad student and a statistician who loves that experimental rigor. Plus, he is even more casual about bourbon than I am, so he feeds my skepticism about the quality-price ratio of the fancier, more hyped bottles (e.g. EWSB) versus the value bottles (e.g. the EWBIB or the EWB). Especially considering that all the bottles came from the EW line, I thought it would be a useful test of the "do I really like it better, or do I just think I should like it better because it costs more?" question.

I won't pretend competence in tasting notes, but I will say that we (even my friend, the ultimate bourbon skeptic) tasted significant differences in this blind format. We were both struck by the higher alcohol content and thickness of flavor in the BIB. Also, we noticed a little more going on (more muted wood char, more fruitiness, etc.) in the EWSB. And the nose on the single barrel stood out as markedly more rich and satisfying than the other two pours.

Overall, though, we were struck by how much we enjoyed all four pours, these differences notwithstanding. The conclusion? When we pay extra for higher age, single barrels, or otherwise more special products, maybe we are mostly just paying for something different, not necessarily something better. Tasted blind, maybe I would enjoy the EWBIB almost as much as the EWSB (except for that nose) most of the time, even though the former is 2/5 the price of the latter.

Does this mean that I would never buy the more expensive single barrels again? No; they are different, and slightly better maybe, and sometimes I want something different. But this experience has opened my eyes further on the best ways of enjoying whiskey. Most of the time, now, I intend to just find what I like and drink it, even if it is 2/5 the price of the more special bottle.

Meruck
03-03-2013, 08:32
CoMo, your conclusion is right on, "I intend to just find what I like and drink it",. Thats the key. But sometimes you have to try really hard to understand what it is you like and why. The blind test is in fact a great way to do that. I recently sampled teh Wellers you mentioned in your first post side by side, albeit not blind. I found that if I could only choose one it would be the 12. (WLW BTAC was not included). But the others have thier place and purpose. I found the spec resev to be what I refered to as a wonderful casual pour and the 107 simply a fine bourbon. But in the end I found the complexities of flavors in the 12 more to my preferance, at least at that moment. And that adds the true variable. individual palets and outside influances. I love orange juice, but not right after I brush my teeth. If you get my meaning.

Enoch
03-03-2013, 09:08
I have tried several blind tastings with Elmer T. Lee, Hancocks, Blantons, and Rock Hill Farms, and I cannot consistently identify which is which even though they range in price from $25 to $50.

CoMobourbon
03-03-2013, 09:14
I have tried several blind tastings with Elmer T. Lee, Hancocks, Blantons, and Rock Hill Farms, and I cannot consistently identify which is which even though they range in price from $25 to $50.

That's really interesting.

My conclusion (if it had been me): I think I'll buy the ETL from that line 90% + of the time.

squire
03-03-2013, 09:38
Excellent post CoMobourbon, excellent. Blind tasting is the only way to objectively evaluate whiskys and one of the first things we learn is more expensive is not better in any quality sense, just more expensive and sometimes (not always) may seem to have something a bit different.

Try this, get 4-5 friends together, pool your money, buy a couple of the expensive bottles and compare them blind to others by the same Maker. The results can be, ahem, revealing.

MyOldKyDram
03-03-2013, 10:11
Blind tasting can indeed be quite the humbling experience. It's why I don't do it very often! I'm generally okay with my delusions re quality. :P

CoMobourbon
03-03-2013, 10:20
Absolutely right; blind tastings are revealing and humbling - maybe in uncomfortable ways! Really, this is such a truism that it almost sounds cliche, but blind tastings are really the only way to know.

But I think concurrent blind tastings of whiskeys from the same maker, mashbill, or even the same brand profile amplify the power of blind tastings even more. Because when you have different mashbills and different profiles from different distillers, you never really know what how to account for the differences in flavor. Concurrently using bourbons from the same line, though, controls for these a lot of the variables.

I feel like, for example, that I can make some fairly useful generalizations about how much age matters to me versus how much proof matters to me. Specifically, I have come to think that higher proof matters much more - especially as it can be had for more bang-to-buck. I like older 8-12 year stuff better sometimes - there are noticeable differences in any case - but don't think that it is usually worth the money.

squire
03-03-2013, 10:20
An attractive package will definitely sell whisky, or get you married for that matter.

higgins
03-03-2013, 10:23
Awesome post, CoMo. I'm a big fan of separating the bourbon from the label to really figure out why I like or dislike a bourbon.

I used to struggle with why I didn't seem to like BT as much as everyone else, until it was slipped into a few blind tastings. Then I realized that to my palate, BT tastes like an entry-level bourbon (somewhat similar to EWB). It's not bad, but for me there's no reason to spend extra money on it.

Enoch
03-03-2013, 11:21
A real sobering blind tasting is OWA paper label and Pappy 15. The reason I didn't pay $80+ per bottle this year.

Meruck
03-03-2013, 11:48
Its only a matter of time (not much either) until the remaining stocks of SW juice PVW are gone. At this point only the 20 and 23 are left. That was the whole point of JVW teaming with BT. The Weller line is an excellent line of wheats. The current runs of PVWs are little more than hand selected premium versions of this. Taking nothing away from the BT runs of PVW. But facts are facts.

callmeox
03-03-2013, 13:18
Proof again that any thread can turn into a Pappy thread given sufficient time. :p

sailor22
03-03-2013, 13:21
Proof again that any thread can turn into a Pappy thread given sufficient time. :p


Rolling on the floor laughing!!

SFS
03-03-2013, 13:23
Proof again that any thread can turn into a Pappy thread given sufficient time. :p

I posted the same thing earlier this week in a new member thread.

CoMobourbon
03-03-2013, 13:24
There should be a Pappy law, like Godwin's law. Would we just call it Pappy's law? Or callmeox's law?

Godwin's law (also known as Godwin's Rule of Nazi Analogies or Godwin's Law of Nazi Analogies[1] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law#cite_note-GL_FAQ-1)[2] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law#cite_note-Godwin94-2)) is an observation made by Mike Godwin (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Godwin) in 1990[2] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law#cite_note-Godwin94-2) that has become an Internet adage (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_humor). It states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazi_Party) or Hitler (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adolf_Hitler) approaches (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Limit_%28mathematics%29) 1 (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Almost_surely)."[2] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law#cite_note-Godwin94-2)[3] (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Godwin%27s_law#cite_note-Godwin95canonical_version-3) In other words, Godwin observed that, given enough time, in any online discussion—regardless of topic or scope—someone inevitably makes a comparison to Hitler or the Nazis.

sailor22
03-03-2013, 13:25
I have tried several blind tastings with Elmer T. Lee, Hancocks, Blantons, and Rock Hill Farms, and I cannot consistently identify which is which even though they range in price from $25 to $50.

Isn't Rock Hill a batch from the same ricks that ETL comes from? - Just the ones that weren't used in the ETL single barrels. Seems I recall hearing that somewhere - if so then they should be very similar. Also I can see how Blanton's would be very similar in a blind taste.


Blind tastings are the most instructive and almost always surprising.

squire
03-03-2013, 13:30
Van Winkle has always been about more than bottling up remaining SW stocks (SW didn't make rye, for instance) and I expect the long term plans of partnering up with BT will last far beyond that.

callmeox
03-03-2013, 13:30
I can't believe that CoMo Godwinned a nascent Pappy thread. :D

As far as the topic, I'm a fan of blind tastings and of the format of the BTOTY events. Keying in on house styles and removing label influence is very educational.

squire
03-03-2013, 13:32
Oh, and CoMo, Godwin is an idiot.

SMOWK
03-03-2013, 13:45
Blind tastings are THE best way to taste bourbon. It really allows you to hone in on what you like and why you like it. When conducted with others, it can really help to identify what you look for in a bourbon. The descriptions fellow bourbon tasters discuss blindly can really provoke some "aha" moments. I've learned just as much from guys with "weirdo" tongues as I have from guys with "fellow" tongues.

squire
03-03-2013, 13:53
Through blind tastings I've even awoken the senses of a few die hard scotch drinkers.

CoMobourbon
03-03-2013, 14:04
It would be interesting to hear if anyone had done this with all of the bottles of a standard mainstream scotch lines (e.g. Macallan). I can think of a few professional or semi-professional reviewers who engage in this basic approach; I think David Driscoll did the Johnnie Walker line pretty recently. But, crucially, they don't do it blind. I'm telling you, the combination of the bourbons from same line and blindness is powerful.

Now that I think about it, I have definitely read a non-blind tasting on this site covering all of the PVW bourbon releases. [I can't remember the title...] While the non-blindness (awareness of the bottle label) definitely affected perception of the whiskey in the glass, I think that the poster picked the PVW 15 as his favorite over the PVW 23, which runs at about 2X + the price of the 15. And, IIRC, the poster explained how the experience exposed his preference for moderate wood and relatively more vibrant palate flavor instead of more delicate flavors and deeper wood influence.

CoMobourbon
03-03-2013, 14:32
Through blind tastings I've even awoken the senses of a few die hard scotch drinkers.

See, I would think that this would be difficult because of the very noticeably different (maybe not better) character of scotches versus bourbons. I believe you, and admire you for pulling it off, but I would think that people would entangle themselves in their own pre-existing notions about scotch versus bourbon. That people would recognize the scotch flavor profile, fall back on their previous assumption that scotch is better, and decide that the scotch tasting sample was better regardless of the actual taste of either the scotch or bourbon sample.

Pretty much the same thing happens to me when I try to blind taste, say, Four Roses products against Heaven Hill products or Wild Turkey products. I just taste the different brand / flavor profile and fall back on a priori beliefs about what I like better. That's why I'm starting to comparatively blind taste products from the same line.

ErichPryde
03-03-2013, 14:34
CoMo, the trick is to do a double-blind experiment- in this case, YOU'RE double blind. Have someone else pour all the samples for you and have no idea what they've poured. Yeah, sometimes you can nail the specific "house touch," but sometimes it's interesting to see what you like in this type of format.

SFS
03-03-2013, 14:39
See, I would think that this would be difficult because of the very noticeably different (maybe not better) character of scotches versus bourbons.


This line is becoming more blurred with the introduction of Glenmorangie's Ealanta. It went into charred virgin oak barrels, and has a LOT of bourbon characteristics.

CoMobourbon
03-03-2013, 14:43
CoMo, the trick is to do a double-blind experiment- in this case, YOU'RE double blind. Have someone else pour all the samples for you and have no idea what they've poured. Yeah, sometimes you can nail the specific "house touch," but sometimes it's interesting to see what you like in this type of format.

First of all, good call with the double blind (I think this is not exactly a technical / scientific double blind, but I totally get what you are saying). We have been having our wives pour for us in another room and hand them out in random order, but we always knew what the choices were. We should get a set of 7-8 options on the table and say, "pick three at random".

Second, good point with the 'noticing different house touch can be interesting too'.That's true; when I did FRY against EWB and EC12, for example, I determined that I liked the sweet, spicy, fruitiness of the Four Roses better than the sweet wood char w/ vanilla of the Heaven Hill products (especially prominent in the EC 12). It's just harder to make generalizations like 'higher proof is usually more important to me than higher age' when you are dealing with different flavor profiles.

ErichPryde
03-03-2013, 14:48
re double blind: that's why i specified you were double blind... as i wasn't technically using the term properly.

CoMobourbon
03-03-2013, 15:01
Got it.

Though applying the principles of a true 'technical' double blind would also be interesting. Get three bourbon drinkers together and have the first two blind sample a number of bourbons and write down tasting notes and assign a number. Then, have the third guy (someone a least a little familiar with bourbon flavors) search the tasting note sheets for patterns that the first and second drinkers might not have intended at all. For example, maybe the third guy notices that the first drinker always describes higher proof bourbons with adjectives like 'good' and 'satisfying'. This might indicate that this first drinker really likes higher proof better - regardless of the various number values he assigned those high proofers.

squire
03-03-2013, 15:23
Blind tastings taught me to appreciate a balanced whisky and distinguish it from those that were too dominated by one flavor.

JPBoston
03-03-2013, 15:31
I feel like, for example, that I can make some fairly useful generalizations about how much age matters to me versus how much proof matters to me. Specifically, I have come to think that higher proof matters much more - especially as it can be had for more bang-to-buck. I like older 8-12 year stuff better sometimes - there are noticeable differences in any case - but don't think that it is usually worth the money.

Fully agreed there. I think figuring out what proof, age, and mashbill means to your specific tastes are the most important/interesting parts of the journey from starting off as a bourbon noob, to becoming more of an experienced enthusiast.



An attractive package will definitely sell whisky, or get you married for that matter.

LMAO!

CoMobourbon
03-03-2013, 15:43
Here are two more sub-questions for this thread (ones that should have been obvious to me right away). 1.) What are some combinations (bourbons of the same mashbill, distillery, and maybe even the same brand profile) that I or others could try in these same-bourbon-line comparative blind tastings? 2.) What same-line blind tasted combinations have people tried?

1.) WSR, OWA, and W12 has been mentioned.
2.) Also, I have tried EW green, EW black, EW BIB, and EW single barrel (2003).
3.) Enoch mentioned Elmer T. Lee, Hancock's, Blanton's, and Rock Hill Farms.
4.) Maybe WT81, WT101, Russel's Reserve, and RB? [Actually, Jason Pyle did most of this in a YouTube review. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB6D-y56JD8&list=UUgvqm5CQqLyJIA3MJB4ObrQ&index=33]
5.) Four Roses Yellow, Four Roses Small Batch, and Four Roses Single Barrel (standard OBSV)?
6.) I think I remember AaronWF doing Dickel 12 and the Dickel barrel select, but I don't remember precisely how he did it, and in any case that's only two data points. (It's not, say the Dickel 8, the Dickel 12, and the Dickel barrel select.
7.) OGD, OGD BIB, OGD 114, and Basil Hayden?
9.) Others?
10.) Others?

fishnbowljoe
03-03-2013, 15:43
I don't really do blind or comparative tastings, but for some reason I do try to have multiple bottles of the same line, or type of bourbon open. For the most part, I seem to rotate between Van Winkles, Wellers, and BIB's. I also have a few others open too, just because. :rolleyes:

Examples:

#1. Van Winkles. About three months ago or so, I had ORVW 10/90, ORVW 10/107, Lot B, Pappy 15 and Pappy 20 all open at the same time. I was only frugal with the Pappy 20. :yum:

#2. Wellers. As the Van Winkles were emptied, I opened Wellers. I have and/or had Weller SR, OWA, Weller 12, Weller Centennial, and a 2010 WLW open. I added the "had" because when the Weller SR and OWA were about half empty, I combined them to make my version of the Weller SB blend.:cool:

#3. BIB's and ≈100 proofers. (Give or take a proof point or two. ;) ) I am slowly transitioning over to BIB's and 100 proofers as I finish other bottles. Currently open in this category are, Old Forester BIB, EW BIB, Old HH BIB, VOB 100 proof, Colonel E H Taylor Small Batch, and ER 101.

I love tasting the similarities and differences of types and lines of bourbon this way. Although there are times, depending on my mood or my taste buds, when it's a little difficult to choose a pour. That's why I keep an oddball or two open. :grin: I guess comparisons are somewhat inevitable this way, but for me, it's more a matter of what tastes good at a given time, not how it stacks up against something I tasted earlier.

Either way, you know the old saying. "IT'S ALL GOOD!"

Cheers! Joe

JPBoston
03-03-2013, 15:49
You could try Beam ----

Beam White, Green, Black. Not sure if KC and Booker's are the same mash as the first three or not, though I am sure others will know.

clingman71
03-03-2013, 16:02
Here are two more sub-questions for this thread (ones that should have been obvious right away). 1.) What are some combinations (bourbons of the same mashbill, distillery, and maybe even the same brand profile) that I or others could try in these same-bourbon-line comparative blind tastings? 2.) What same-line blind tasted combinations have people tried?

1.) WSR, OWA, and W12 has been mentioned.
2.) Also, I have tried EW green, EW black, EW BIB, and EW single barrel (2003).
3.) Enoch mentioned Elmer T. Lee, Hancock's, Blanton's, and Rock Hill Farms.
4.) Maybe WT81, WT101, Russel's Reserve, and RB? [Actually, Jason Pyle did most of this in a YouTube review. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jB6D-y56JD8&list=UUgvqm5CQqLyJIA3MJB4ObrQ&index=33]
5.) Four Roses Yellow, Four Roses Small Batch, and Four Roses Single Barrel (standard OBSV)?
6.) I think I remember AaronWF doing Dickel 12 and the Dickel barrel select, but I don't remember precisely how he did it, and in any case that's only two data points. (It's not, say the Dickel 8, the Dickel 12, and the Dickel barrel select.
7.) OGD, OGD BIB, OGD 114, and Basil Hayden?
9.) Others?
10.) Others?


i would add AA and AAA to the ETL lineup.
I would also look at the other BT mashbill, Charter, BT , Eagle Eare.

ChicagoFlyer
03-03-2013, 17:49
We did a small Stitzel Weller mix with Pappy 20, JPR 18, Old Fitz BiB (1992) then sprinkled in some non-lineage ones to see if we could separate them out. We used Weller 12 (current) and Vintage 17. Quite a fun night and a good way to further solidify how great of a value Weller 12 is.

squire
03-03-2013, 18:19
Now that's my idea of a fun evening, what were the tasting results?

ChicagoFlyer
03-03-2013, 18:44
I ended up with the Old Fitz as my favorite and the JPR second. I picked the Vintage out pretty easily but still had it third. Mrs. Flyer had the SW's 1,2,3 with Pappy, JPR, then OF. She typically loves the Vintage but had that last on her list. Needless to say she was pretty surprised. We both had the Weller 12 in 4th place and commented that it performed extremely well. We have always considered Weller 12 to be predominately sweet and smooth yet neither of our notes used these words for this tasting and we found it to be much more complex.

This was the first time we have done the tastings blind and we loved it. Mrs. Flyer called it her favorite drinking game ever. Apparently we have matured past flip cup.

CoMobourbon
03-03-2013, 19:10
We have always considered Weller 12 to be predominately sweet and smooth yet neither of our notes used these words for this tasting and we found it to be much more complex.


Now, to me, that's the kind of interesting thing you find out in a blind tasting - especially in a blind tasting of similar bottles (like aged wheaters, in this case).

In my much more low brow blind comparative tasting, I discovered that I liked the palate of the much younger 100 proof EW BIB about as much as the 9 1/2 year old EW single barrel. They were different (thick and relatively simple versus delicate and relatively more balanced + complex), but I rated them the same overall. But I did like the rich nose of the single barrel much better than the young high proof BIB, which was much more closed. So then, if I can get the BIB for $12 and the SB for $27ish, then is the extra 100%+ worth the nicer nose? No definitive answers, but it really clarifies the question / the choices.

Enoch
03-03-2013, 19:13
In a similar vein, every night my wife selects a blind shot and I have to guess what it is. I have around 100 open bottles in three groups: pre-govt warning, post-govt warning, and special stuff. Sometimes she will tell me which group but I must say my correct guess ratio is dismal. It is very humbling.

WAINWRIGHT
03-03-2013, 19:21
In a similar vein, every night my wife selects a blind shot and I have to guess what it is. I have around 100 open bottles in three groups: pre-govt warning, post-govt warning, and special stuff. Sometimes she will tell me which group but I must say my correct guess ratio is dismal. It is very humbling.
My wife and I do this also and it is amazing and humbling it can be,I often get the type and profile identified correctly but label,well not so much.I will also have to say that it is amazing that with nose alone I am about as accurate with the palate.BTW 100 open bottles,you are my hero that would be half of my bunker alone!

peb
03-03-2013, 19:27
I have tried several blind tastings with Elmer T. Lee, Hancocks, Blantons, and Rock Hill Farms, and I cannot consistently identify which is which even though they range in price from $25 to $50.

I did the same thing, minus Hancocks and insert AAA10. I thought the ETL easily held its own with the Blanton's and RHF, and the AAA10 was no slouch either.

Meruck
03-03-2013, 19:31
Really there are so many comparisons to me made. What ever the number of bourbons there ate times two or three. Weather it blind, double blind or eyes wide open its really hard to narrow down to one or two of the favorite bourbons from all that is out there. I maintain that pallet condition has as much or more to do with momentary preference than anything else.

A few days ago I tried VSO Fitz for the first time and was disappointed as compared to HHs' other contributions to the line. Today I tried it again and found it quite pleasing. Then I was smoking a batch of BBQ sauce and got to the point where I liked everything and could not tell them apart. Your favorite today may only be third or fourth tomorrow. You are the sum of your experiences and that affects the way bourbon tastes.

if you want to try it for your self, have a Tate's of something you do not particularly care for, and then have a coup,e teaspoons of a hot BBQ sauce and then try it again.

Pallet conditioning, more important that air conditioning.

CoMobourbon
03-03-2013, 19:37
Right. Taste is not a positive discovery of an absolute truth but rather a constructed composite of sensations and context.

That I think is what makes blind comparisons of whiskeys from the same line so interesting. Obviously, there are always tons of variables. But when you blindly taste whiskeys from the same distillery, mashbill, and even brand profile (i.e. barrels selected for certain flavor profile), and you do so at about the same time, you control for lots of those variables. Maybe enough of those variables that you can start to make (rough) generalizations about what you tend to like.

Meruck
03-03-2013, 19:42
Wow, I really like that first sentence. Makes you sound edumacated. Seriously. But you are right on. In the end the best part about tasting different and or similar whiskeys at the same time is tasting different of similar whiskeys at the same time.

To your point I have for d that when I like one over another one day, I alway do. Maybe not to the same extent but it remains consistent.

CoMobourbon
03-03-2013, 19:45
Wow, I really like that first sentence. Makes you sound edumacated. Seriously. But you are right on. In the end the best part about tasting different and or similar whiskeys at the same time is tasting different of similar whiskeys at the same time.

To your point I have for d that when I like one over another one day, I alway do. Maybe not to the same extent but it remains consistent.

I get extra lucid after the first pour. Then...

squire
03-03-2013, 19:45
For me the blind tastings bring the differences into focus and allow me to think about what I like in a specific whisky and why.

Meruck
03-03-2013, 19:48
But then you're a "Guru".