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Gillman
04-29-2013, 12:44
At the recent Sampler Gazebo, I saw a Maker's Mark that, in my reverie induced by some singular table offerings, struck me as possibly a rare older bottle of Maker's. I asked people around me what it was and someone, Mike I think or Art, said it was an 86 Makers. Great I thought, a rare chance to taste Makers when it was "supposedly" better than the current one. I took a swig and thought wow, that's a full rich taste with some of that older whiskey they must have used then. I started to emit a pronunciamento how the stuff from decades back is so often higher grade and such a pity it isn't like that now and bla bla. Then Mike said, "Gary, it's 86 proof, the 43% one that came and went". "[Gulp] Oh, I see, thanks guys".

The power of suggestion...

Gary

MauiSon
04-29-2013, 14:17
I can just imagine how great it would have tasted when poured from a Pappy20 bottle . . . :bowdown:

Alden
04-29-2013, 14:32
The power of suggestion indeed.

Thanks for the story. It is illuminating.

dohidied
04-29-2013, 15:00
Suggestion...or did it actually taste better at 86 proof? The world may never know.

Gillman
04-29-2013, 19:38
Well, that's a good question, but anyway it was pretty good!

Gary

CoMobourbon
04-29-2013, 19:44
There is a relatively famous psych experiment that pretty much systematically proves what you are saying. (I wish I could remember the name / reference.) In short, experimenters had professional wine tasters taste value red wine and told them it was value red wine, then had them taste THE SAME WINE after telling them that was more expensive / higher status. They overwhelmingly described THE SAME WINE as much worse in first tasting.

Yeti
04-29-2013, 19:59
Coke and Pepsi. Pepsi destroys Coke in blind tests, and has for decades. Coke has an untouchable market lead. Go figure.

FWIW I don't drink soda anymore, but I always preferred Coke.

CoMobourbon
04-29-2013, 20:06
Coke and Pepsi. Pepsi destroys Coke in blind tests, and has for decades. Coke has an untouchable market lead. Go figure.

FWIW I don't drink soda anymore, but I always preferred Coke.

Not to be that contrary guy, but I have actually heard that further blind testing complicates this result. To summarize what I have heard: Basically, Pepsi is sweeter, so people who have only one mouthful blind almost always like it better. But when people blind drink an entire can's worth, preferences tend to swing back in Coke's direction.

But yeah, the big point is obviously taken.

Yeti
04-29-2013, 20:20
But when people blind drink an entire can's worth, preferences tend to swing back in Coke's direction.

That makes a lot of sense. I had not read the opposing research.

Alphanumeric
04-29-2013, 22:55
Not to be that contrary guy, but I have actually heard that further blind testing complicates this result. To summarize what I have heard: Basically, Pepsi is sweeter, so people who have only one mouthful blind almost always like it better. But when people blind drink an entire can's worth, preferences tend to swing back in Coke's direction.

But yeah, the big point is obviously taken.

Thats fascinating. We performed this experiment in my (grade-school) class and I was on team Pepsi. I'm curious if it was a combination of my immature palate with a sweeter beverage. Luckily, the issue is moot for me now since I no longer bother with soda.

Really, I tend to find lone random tastings of whiskey inconclusive. My naive palate can't very well identify characteristics, especially when influenced by unblind knowledge. I need to have a dedicated, solitary tasting session, preferably a comparative of many, in order to create an objective idea of the whiskey.

Danger
04-30-2013, 18:21
There is a relatively famous psych experiment that pretty much systematically proves what you are saying.

[Frédéric Brochet at the University of Bordeaux] took a middling Bordeaux and served it in two different bottles. One bottle bore the label of a fancy grand cru, the other of an ordinary vin de table. Although they were being served the exact same wine, the experts gave the bottles nearly opposite descriptions. The grand cru was summarized as being “agreeable,” “woody,” “complex,” “balanced,” and “rounded,” while the most popular adjectives for the vin de table included “weak,” “short,” “light,” “flat,” and “faulty.” - link to the summary of many blind taste results (http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/frontal-cortex/2012/06/wine-taste.html)

Bourbon is not so different than art, right? When you buy a painting you buy a story, not just paint on the canvas. All art, including whiskey, lives and dies on the legends that make them interesting. It's like that 6-year old painter whose work sold for thousands, but when it came out that her father was guiding her, not another painting was sold. Same art - different story.

Anyway, my point is that maybe the instructive thing about the story is not, "don't let your judgment be colored by the bourbon's history", but instead, "remember to accept and embrace the fact that story and state of mind helps you enjoy your bourbon more."

Gillman
04-30-2013, 18:56
Well, very true, Danger, and ditto for a stylish packaging format. Still, there is an inherent quality, or lack thereof. There is. Only blind tasting can really separate the wheat from the chaff perhaps.

Gary

squire
04-30-2013, 19:00
Or the wheat from the rye.

Danger
04-30-2013, 19:20
Well, very true, Danger, and ditto for a stylish packaging format. Still, there is an inherent quality, or lack thereof. There is. Only blind tasting can really separate the wheat from the chaff perhaps.
You can't put lipstick on a pig, but being in the right state of mind can really enhance your enjoyment. I mean, why even bother with the blind tests if they make the whiskey seem to taste worse? When it comes to art/whiskey is there really an objective good and bad product anyway? hmmmm I like your story.


Or the wheat from the rye.
ha

Gillman
04-30-2013, 19:40
There is an inherent quality for sure. Weller 12 which I had tonight was light and spiky, not as good (IMO) as say, EB 12 or EC 12, I am sure the latter would smoke it in a blind tasting. Some whiskeys in fancy bottles strike many as par for the course, e.g. Willett's pot still (the one in the blown glass-looking bottle). However with whiskeys which overall present close similarities, it is different. In the case of my story too, I was overtaken by the power of suggestion but I can't always be fooled. A number of old bottles at recent Gazebo were clearly oxidized and it was painful hearing some people praise them. Perhaps they were liable to the same thing I was with "Maker's 86", but in other words, you can't fool all the people all the time.

Gary

squire
04-30-2013, 19:57
Blind tasting is the best way for me to pick out what I like or dislike about about a whisky.

Danger
04-30-2013, 20:14
Blind tasting is the best way for me to pick out what I like or dislike about about a whisky.
Probably true, but maybe not the best way to enjoy a whiskey.

squire
04-30-2013, 20:22
Oh, I enjoy them all Danger, just some more than others.

Danger
04-30-2013, 20:24
haha, I love your pithy quips.

KyFriedChicken
04-30-2013, 20:25
Probably true, but maybe not the best way to enjoy a whiskey.

I just taste it till I go blind. :Clever:

weller_tex
04-30-2013, 20:50
I just taste it till I go blind. :Clever:

I am pretty sure a significant majority of the Beam haters would like Booker's, Baker's, Knob Creek Single Barrel, and possibly JBB if given a blind tasting. VERY instructive story.

T Comp
04-30-2013, 21:23
I am pretty sure a significant majority of the Beam haters would like Booker's, Baker's, Knob Creek Single Barrel, and possibly JBB if given a blind tasting. VERY instructive story.

A bit ironic considering the OP. Those are ones I'm quite confident he'd pick out quadruple blind and still revile. Not one of the above made it to the gazebo table either. I myself do enjoy an occasional KC or Bakers and especially when combined with bitters and Vermouth.

squire
05-01-2013, 05:45
One of the positive aspects of blind tasting is we may in fact broaden our tastes in Bourbon.

darylld911
05-01-2013, 06:20
One of the positive aspects of blind tasting is we may in fact broaden our tastes in Bourbon.
And I think more accurately measure the value. When I tried CEHT BP I thought it pretty good. When I blind tasted it against GTS (same price) and Bookers, I was surprised that I liked Bookers more. At 60% of the cost, I won't buy CEHT BP again, despite liking it at first. If I can be more satisfied for less dough, I want to know :-)

squire
05-01-2013, 07:01
Gary, blind tasting was the principle reason I stopped buying expensive whiskys.

Flyfish
05-01-2013, 07:34
Gary, blind tasting was the principle reason I stopped buying expensive whiskys.

Squire makes me feel stupid for repeatedly violating my Nothing Over $30 vow. A blind tasting often reveals that I sometimes prefer the expensive bourbon about 10% more than my regular pours. But I don't remember the last time I said "Holy cow! This is worth three or four times as much as EC12, OWA, VOB or AAA." Even so, I keep chasing the elusive Holy Grail--which, I understand, BT will be releasing in 2015.

mosugoji64
05-02-2013, 08:45
Here's a great illustrative clip from Penn & Teller's Bullshit wherein customers at a fine restaurant are served cheap food and wine then asked for their opinions:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a9J1b3MqiX8

Good stuff.

Gillman
05-02-2013, 09:07
I cannot watch this until tonight but look forward to it. But may I ask, did anyone stick to their guns in not being overly impressed? Or did they all praise? Another factor too: sometimes out of politeness people don't want to criticize including "in public". I have often been in a spot when someone brings a dusty to Gazebo and faults are evident but one doesn't want to hurt feelings.

Gary

squire
05-02-2013, 09:51
I believe they convinced themselves the food was actually good.

Gillman
05-02-2013, 15:59
Okay I watched it. Not my thing, the narration was rather crude and there were surely other factors at play such as people with their date not wanting probably to obtrude an off note. Also, even one drink can put someone's palate off, and had it been me at the table, likely I'd have had two before dinner out.

I never really liked scenarios where people are misled, it's kind of a self-justifying prophecy.

Does it prove something? Certainly, but only up to a point.

Gary

P.S. In my own case, I was entirely responsible for misleading myself!

darylld911
05-02-2013, 17:05
Gary, blind tasting was the principle reason I stopped buying expensive whiskys.

After that discovery, I pledged not to buy anything expensive unless I had tried it first. Before ECBP, I hadn't found anything that I enjoyed as much as a GTS or WLW (including PVW20). Of course, after making said pledge, I went to the KBF and bought a 25 yr rye that I hope (but don't expect) will improve with some air. I literally charted out my purchases of bottles over $50 which I had NOT tried before, and found that of the 8 I could recall - I was only really happy with 1 of them (THH). The rest I thought I would enjoy as much as items at half the price in most cases.

Of course, I'm REALLY hoping the 2012 FRSmBLE becomes my second, as I hadn't tried it yet :grin:

Danger
05-02-2013, 17:49
Squire makes me feel stupid for repeatedly violating my Nothing Over $30 vow. A blind tasting often reveals that I sometimes prefer the expensive bourbon about 10% more than my regular pours.
If knowing that your bourbon costs a lot (or that you respect the distiller who made it, or like the history behind it, or whatever) makes the bourbon seem better to you, why not pay that premium? I seem to be disagreeing with most posts in the thread, but I like to do whatever I can to get the maximum entertainment out of my bourbon, and if that means paying a bit more for a bottle that's critically acclaimed, then so be it.

I feel like not buying pricier bottles just because you sometimes can't tell the difference in blind tastings is taking a stance on principle that does not make too much sense to me. How often are you really drinking your whiskey blind?

darylld911
05-02-2013, 17:57
I feel like not buying pricier bottles just because you sometimes can't tell the difference in blind tastings is taking a stance on principle that does not make too much sense to me. How often are you really drinking your whiskey blind?

Valid point on the definition of value - it differs from one to another. For me, knowing that something is expensive doesn't make me enjoy it more - in fact the opposite tends to be a risk (as I expect it to be that much better). But, my "value" is my enjoyment of the nose and palate of a dram - rather than in knowing it is a premium label. It doesn't make sense to me to pay $30 for a can of Coke that is dressed up if you don't enjoy the contents of said can that much more than the $1 can. On the other hand, if you're paying the premium to collect something rare - I completely understand. I just enjoy drinking too much to collect it :grin:

HighHorse
05-02-2013, 18:47
Blind tasting certainly levels the playing field. More and more .. for me anyway .. it leads me to beg the question of whether or not a pricey pour is really a value pour. Unfortunately, by the time I realize what I've bought .. the seller already has my money.

Yeti
05-02-2013, 19:39
I'm in agreement that knowledge (of whatever) increasing personal enjoyment is A-ok. I call it the romance factor. It doesn't save everything, but often I enjoy something that was expensive and that I intended to enjoy. If we rode out the value pour hardline nobody would drink anything but HH white, Fitz BIB, EWB, Ritt BIB, etc. etc.

mosugoji64
05-02-2013, 20:25
Okay I watched it. Not my thing, the narration was rather crude and there were surely other factors at play such as people with their date not wanting probably to obtrude an off note. Also, even one drink can put someone's palate off, and had it been me at the table, likely I'd have had two before dinner out.

I never really liked scenarios where people are misled, it's kind of a self-justifying prophecy.

Does it prove something? Certainly, but only up to a point.

Gary

P.S. In my own case, I was entirely responsible for misleading myself!

I think the point of it was there are more factors at play than flavor alone and we're all vulnerable to other influences on our perception. As Josh points out, the romance factor figures prominently in our experience and as long as we recognize that we're okay. We should remember that before passing judgment on someone who gets enjoyment out of something we feel is overpriced or below our standards.

Gillman
05-03-2013, 03:16
And I agree with that. There is simple sensory pleasure in handling a well-designed and labeled bottle, I know that. On the food side the equivalent is surroundings, ambiance, service. Of course it can't go too far off the track, e.g. you can't serve a Riesling as a Chardonnay to anyone familiar with those types, or a pilsner as a porter or malt as a bourbon. All I'm saying is, every time you increase the suggestibility factor, one is less likely to appraise accurately what you are eating or drinking. Distraction, including sometimes who your companions are, or having a palate dulled by a drink or two, or mistaking the context because someone has put you on, can make a big difference to accurate assessment. The only way IMO to taste properly with fairness to each product is blind tasting and even then with a relatively fresh palate.

Gary

Flyfish
05-03-2013, 09:44
I feel like not buying pricier bottles just because you sometimes can't tell the difference in blind tastings is taking a stance on principle that does not make too much sense to me. How often are you really drinking your whiskey blind?
Two things to clarify: 1) I can tell the difference but that difference often does not justify 3 or 4 times the price IMO; 2) I never drink my bourbon blind but my wife and I taste our bourbon blind quite frequently. She pours me two or three to sample and the next time I do the pouring. We try to minimize the influence of labels, wooden boxes, velvet bags, and cute little horsey stoppers on our assessment of what we are tasting.

HighHorse
05-03-2013, 12:26
I'm in agreement that knowledge (of whatever) increasing personal enjoyment is A-ok. I call it the romance factor. It doesn't save everything, but often I enjoy something that was expensive and that I intended to enjoy. If we rode out the value pour hardline nobody would drink anything but HH white, Fitz BIB, EWB, Ritt BIB, etc. etc.

"The romance factor"??? So that means the retailer is going to kiss me before he ...??

Yeti
05-03-2013, 12:57
Don't be ridiculous. I mean romance like this...

http://www.joshnibertphotography.com/Photography/Straight-Bourbon/i-Jw446h3/1/L/NotWithoutMyBourbon-L.jpg (http://www.joshnibertphotography.com/Photography/Straight-Bourbon/29216612_wP4Vmt#!i=2491364407&k=Jw446h3&lb=1&s=A)

MyOldKyDram
05-03-2013, 13:02
Bourbon porn, indeed. Kickstart this baby. I'm in for ten bucks.

squire
05-03-2013, 13:14
Romance means he kisses you after.

Yeti
05-03-2013, 13:19
Romance means he kisses you after.

Outstanding. This is the most succinct and brutally honest definition imaginable. Now I have to purge it from my mind in the event that a young girl in my family ever asks me what "love" is. "It means he kisses you after" :slappin:

Wryguy
05-03-2013, 13:26
Romance means he kisses you after.

:lol: :lol: :lol:

So on point, as always, Squire.

black mamba
05-03-2013, 17:12
My uncle said to me, "I told my wife I loved her the day I married her, and if anything ever changed, I'd let her know." :lol:

boneuphtoner
05-06-2013, 11:18
And I think more accurately measure the value. When I tried CEHT BP I thought it pretty good. When I blind tasted it against GTS (same price) and Bookers, I was surprised that I liked Bookers more. At 60% of the cost, I won't buy CEHT BP again, despite liking it at first. If I can be more satisfied for less dough, I want to know :-)

I bought my very first bottle of Stagg last year, and I agree wholeheartedly. Booker's blows it out of the water, and it ain't even close, for my palate anyway.

darylld911
05-06-2013, 15:48
I bought my very first bottle of Stagg last year, and I agree wholeheartedly. Booker's blows it out of the water, and it ain't even close, for my palate anyway.

I actually meant to convey that I liked Bookers more than Col EH Taylor Barrel Proof (of those three, I still liked GTS the best!). I think if I had compared them knowing which was which - I would have had a bias towards CEHT based on the price. But I think you hit it - what matters is how it hits YOUR palate (at least when you're buying it for yourself!)

Richnimrod
05-06-2013, 15:59
Wow, what a lot of interesting and even informational points have been made on this thread. Here's my nickel's worth of useless (and even foolish, maybe) information... If MY OWN enjoyment of a Bourbon can be enhanced by suggestion (& I believe it likely can be), then I want somebody to pour all of my mediocre juice (I have plenty of that) into George T. Stagg & Elijah Craig Barrel Proof bottles for me when my head is turned. Darylld: Can you help with this???? :rolleyes:

darylld911
05-06-2013, 16:43
Wow, what a lot of interesting and even informational points have been made on this thread. Here's my nickel's worth of useless (and even foolish, maybe) information... If MY OWN enjoyment of a Bourbon can be enhanced by suggestion (& I believe it likely can be), then I want somebody to pour all of my mediocre juice (I have plenty of that) into George T. Stagg & Elijah Craig Barrel Proof bottles for me when my head is turned. Darylld: Can you help with this???? :rolleyes:

I believe I could - since that would require emptying the CURRENT contents of your GTS and ECBP (maybe your WLW as well?) . . . . hell - I'll even donate some of MY mediocre juice into your bottles! I mean - anything I can do to help :grin:

JPBoston
05-06-2013, 16:45
I'm with the general consensus --- I'm not interested in fancy packaging or perceived value (though I do wish MM was better, cause those bottles are damn cool).

I haven't done any 'official' blind tastings with several bourbons lined up and ready to go. But I usually have about 5-6 bottles open at any one time in the house, and when my wife offers/surprises me with a pour I always 'guess' which one it is. I can usually get it just by the nose, and I haven't been wrong yet when guessing. Again, I only have 5-6 bottles open at a time, so it's not like I'm walking blind into a bourbon bar (or one of our SB brethren with a giant bunker) and doing this... but I think it shows that what I taste when I pour my own is pretty true to reality, and that's all I'm looking for.

I also agree with many that <$30 seems to be my sweet spot. The point of diminishing returns begins to rear its ugly head when I go above that line.