View Full Version : The Best of Times

12-20-2000, 18:37
I am starting this new post rather than to add to the chaos that is being discussed in the Jim Murray posting. This really is the best of times for getting information about bourbon and its heritage. In the last ten years there has been more books written on the subject than there was in the previous 50 years. I think that we should be grateful for the efforts of all of these writers whether we like their tasting notes or not. They have all made very good efforts to find the truth and not take their information only from the marketing guys. They also have tried to be fair about what they put into writing and to give everybody fair treatment. There has been no outright mud slinging or muck raking. This is good because the industry gets enough of this type of publicity from the news media and the neo-prohibitionist.

Not only has there been books but there are also several very good magazines and newsletters (take a bow Chuck) being published that deserve some credit. All of this put together means it really is the best of times for bourbon fans.

Now with that said, I do not want you to think that I don't find problems with the books and magazines out there now. That is where this forum (take a bow Jim) plays an important role. Discussion of these books and magazines will be good for everybody as the mistakes are pointed out and future writers can learn from these mistakes.

Now for my question: How much impact do you think these books and magazines really have on what you drink?

Mike Veach

12-20-2000, 19:18
As usual, you bring up some fine points. (You should take a bow here.) These books (and Chuck's newsletters and video) increased/renewed my interest in bourbon and provided the spark to make me seek out and try bourbons that I was not previously aware of. Beside the tasting aspects of bourbon, I enjoy the rich heritage that goes along with this fine spirit. Not to mention "the hunt" of finding that next elusive bottle......


P.S. How is your book coming?

12-20-2000, 21:01
I don't think I could say it any better than Bill did.


12-20-2000, 23:14
after reading all of the posts I might be afraid to ever attempt to Write a Bourbon book!!!! Well thats OK since John does all the writing for us anyway!
I do agree with you Mike. Some really enjoyable reads have been out there in the past 5 years on Bourbon!
I'm hoping that this forum won't scare anyone off and go ahead and write that best seller!


12-21-2000, 13:52

> Now for my question: How much impact do you think these books and magazines
> really have on what you drink?

Not much anymore, but that's because they did such a great job in the first place of getting me curious about bourbons that I started buying unknown brands just out of curiosity and thus formed my own opinions and preferences. In addition, the knowledge base the books and such gave me allowed me to develop a pretty reliable sixth sense about what new and/or untried bourbons I would and wouldn't like. So while I enjoy reading the books, articles, and everything else bourbon-related, I can't say that they affect my current consumption patterns at all.


12-21-2000, 14:28
Mike after thirty years of bourbon consumption I can say the writers and ratings have no impact whatsoever as to what bourbons I like to drink. I will say that Chuck Cowdery has influenced the way I think about bourbon and that he and others have certaintly increased what I know about bourbon. I think that is a good thing.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

12-21-2000, 19:59
Once again you are the voice of wisdom here. Maybe the real calue of the books is to make us think about the different products in different ways and to learn from that experience.
Mike Veach

12-22-2000, 13:50
My attitude about writing anything is to be useful to the reader and to try to satisfy the reader's curiosity. What will the reader want to know about the subject generally, and what will the reader want to know next, after gaining some of the general knowledge? Try to anticipate where the reader's curiosity will take them and try to get there the same time they do.

I think information about whiskey history is interesting for its own sake. I'm not sure how "useful" it is. I think it is useful to know who produces what products and how are they produced.

I have never found tasting notes to be particularly useful but they are expected. I think it might be useful to know that Blanton's is dry relative to other bourbons and Old Fitzgerald BIB is relatively sweet. There are certainly differences between ryers and wheaters.

The difference between wine tasting and whiskey tasting is that a given wine may vary significantly from vintage to vintage, whereas a bourbon is made to have a consistent taste from year to year.

The only thing comparable with whiskey is the different expressions of age, proof and finish across a line. The winemaker, for the most part, has to play the hand he is dealt. Whiskey makers can tinker until they get the taste profile they want. An artist once told me that his eyes were more important to the process than his hands. By the same token, the most important skill in whiskey making is tasting.

I would like to see the distiller's tasting notes. Now that would be interesting.

--Chuck Cowdery (http://cowdery.home.netcom.com)

12-22-2000, 14:00
Once again, Chuck, you've nailed it! To see the distiller's taste profiles for each brand would be a significant improvement over anyones subjective tasting notes, but they won't be as entertaining.

Linn Spencer

Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

12-22-2000, 17:11
I have seen some tasting notes from distillers and you would be surprised how uninteresting they really were. Technical would be the best term to describe them.
Mike Veach

Ken Weber
12-26-2000, 09:19
I have discussed this with Elmer and it is interesting to hear what he says. As Master Distillers go, these gentlemen are very complimentary of each other. While everyone has some "dogs that didn't hunt", they dwell more on each others' successes. I am afraid that in the spirit of keeping peace in the family, Master Distillers have apparently taken an oath not to deride other peoples' work. I have tried to get Elmer to open up and really let loose, unfortunately, traditional methods have proven unsuccessful. If I just nose all of the glasses that he samples, I would be probably not remember what he said anyhow.
The bottom line is that you will get a very biased report that compliments just about everything.


12-27-2000, 13:29
Ken, enjoy it! I've been in industries where people hated everyone at the competition and could barely recognize that they were people, too. It is nice to know Kentucky folks and Master Distillers are nice to the core. After all, no one intends to put up bad product.

Your firm has a lot to be proud of! Elmer T. Lee and Gary are two people in particular to be proud of.

By the way, what is "Kentucky Dale Whisky" which is listed under the Scotch/Whisky section of the Sazerac website? thanks, Greg

11-04-2001, 14:35
Even though this is an old thread, I decided to share my opionion because it seems to diverge from the posts listed. My consumption of whiskey is significantly affected by what I read in publications including "news," tasting notes, and yes ratings.

Here are the reasons:

News of course is one of the way I find out something is available or that there is something interesting about who produces it how that gets my interest.

Tasting notes and ratings are important to me because I have very broad taste in whiskey (even spirits in general). It is certainly not because I can't decide what I like. Rather, I can't possible taste all the Bourbon, Scotch, Irish, Canadian and even Japanese whisk(e)y that I might be interested in. I use tasting notes and ratings to help get me going in the right direction. This is more true with authors whose taste seems to parallel my own.

All this being said, Forums like this also have at least as much influence in my purchases of whiskey I haven't tried . They have also on occasion, helped me to gain an even better appreciation of something I didn't especially care for from previous experience.

05-31-2002, 14:43
Right you are; we have the most interesting tasting notes right here on StraightBourbon.com.

I'd bet a case of Blanton's (bought a bottle yesterday, plus Virginia Gentleman; wasn't in the mood to try either one last night) that no industry taster _ever_ used the word "pants" in a review.

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield

Retiree, Musician, Dog-Lover, Whiskey-Drinker

05-31-2002, 15:43
Alright here's what I think (uhm I might note that I JUST posted a Tasting, so I may be just a little biased):

I fancy myself a bit of a writer and when I was shopping around for a college to go to (before i met my wife) I had a long conversation with an English Professor at the University of Maine @ Orono. The gist of it was, as a writer one of the most important things you have to understand (in order not to go batty) is that what matters to the reader the most is not as much what you put into it or even what you get out of it, but WHAT THE READER GETS OUT OF IT and secondly, what the reader gets out of it most often reflects more about the reader than the author of the peice. People come into every thing they do with a complex set of past experiences that filter through whatever they experience. I have seen this happen in real live. I have published poems that people feel are hugely profund and when they explain why to me, I am internally thinking "WTF, thats not at all what I meant!". I figure that whiskey tasting is the same way. Reading the Distillers tasting notes would be kinda like reading a biography about an author, or their collected letters. Interesting in a way to gain insight into their frame of mind but no more or less useful than joe's of the street to gaining insight inot what it really taste's like in my mind. now that said, i love reading & especially writing tastings. reading them helps gain an insight into people as much as the whiskey (though if you like a lot of the same whiskey's as someone, it might be prudent to try others they like), Linn's are a good example of what I mean. his personality really shines through.
I like writing them because it makes me think about what I am drinking, if I like it or not & why, it makes me more observative and thats a good thing.

SO I THINK EVERYONE SHOULD POST TASTINGS HERE, for the good of bourbonia!!!!! http://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gifhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gifhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gifhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gifhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gifhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gifhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gifhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gifhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gifhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gifhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gifhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gifhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gifhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gifhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gifhttp://www.straightbourbon.com/images/icons/laugh.gif!

damn i really went off

so what do you all think??