View Full Version : Hosting a tasting questions...

04-14-2008, 14:52
I stepped away from bourbons in the last several months to devote time and dough into all-grain home brewing. Over the past weekend during a short notice invite to a rare beer tasting (stuff you can't get in cali) the topic of bourbon barrel aged beers came up.

I flat out stated I love bourbon and I love beer, but not together. So we started talking more about bourbon and I have open bottles (22) I haven't touched in 5 months. So I told them we ought to get together for some bourbon tasting. These are mostly beer (although they love great beer) guys and I'm not sure what is appropriate.

I'm going to post a list of what I'm willing to be tasted, mostly standard fare like Maker's Mark as a baseline, then 1792, baby saz, BTAC '06 and '07, Winkle Lot B, Winkle Rye, Pappy 15 and....some more 'standard' fare. It's been so long since I even looked at my stock I have no idea what's in various cabinets. However, when doing a pour...how much?

I really don't want to empty all my bottles esp the hard to replace BTAC's and I don't want everyone getting totally schnockered. So when doing a tasting...do you take an average low ball and pour in 1 or 2mm worth?

Plus I have 3 beer taps full of new beers that are carbonating so it should be an interesting day.

Ideas? Thoughts?

04-14-2008, 15:06
You can do anything really.

Some like to sample and compare comparable bourbons, either by recipe, age, price or proof. Others like to compare vastly different bourbons.

Since you have so many types, you might taste to look at the differences between each bourbon? Comparing MM to BTAC isn't really fair, unless you're pointing out the differences.

Another idea is to see what bourbon each guest prefers? Some might like the "cheaper" bourbon's better. Some might prefer a Rye to a Wheat?

04-14-2008, 15:12
I'm going to post a list of what I'm willing to be tasted, mostly standard fare like Maker's Mark as a baseline, then 1792, baby saz, BTAC '06 and '07, Winkle Lot B, Winkle Rye, Pappy 15 and....some more 'standard' fare. It's been so long since I even looked at my stock I have no idea what's in various cabinets. However, when doing a pour...how much?

Ideas? Thoughts?

Well, you didn't give the full list in your post, so it's hard to know what to recommend; however, I do have some thoughts based on some spirit tastings I've given and attended.

1. Offering more than four or five is a bad idea. Most people's taste buds will burn out after that, and they can't discriminate between the various pours. Also it lets you pour a decent sample of each (1 oz) without serving so much that they get "totally schnockered".

2. A distinct range of styles, say a high-rye bourbon (Old Grand Dad), a low-rye bourbon (Old Charter 12yo if you have any), a wheater, a rye, and something else, perhaps Bernheim Wheat or a Tennessee whisky.

3. If your intent is to exhibit bourbon as a quality quaff, then use better bottlings (but not necessarily the best). For example, for a wheater, I'd go with VW Lot B, rather than MM or PVW 15.

04-14-2008, 15:38
I don't have my list in front of me, I was going to post it later tonight.

The more I think about it the more I'm inclinded to initially go with 5 bourbons and choose a variety of easy to come-by stuff. That way if someone finds a gem they LOVE they can go get it and it won't be an '06 WLW.

MM is just a baseline since you can get it anywhere and to sort of 'set their taste buds'.

How about:

Knob Creek
Elmer T. Lee
Old Grand Dad

All of which I have. Then blow them away with some GTS '07.

I'll take a peek tonight and list what I have and mark what I'm willing to share. Also depends on how many people are interested! If only 4 or 5 are interested then I'll be much more inclinded to share the really good stuff. If I get 20 replies saying "I'm in..." then I'll have to draw a line in terms of attendees and bottlings.

04-16-2008, 00:07
Ok...I dragged out my entire inventory. I forgot how much I spent last Fall...for me this is a lot:

Old Grand Dad bonded*
Rittenhouse Rye 100*
Knob Creek*
Mitcher's Rye*
Wild Turkey RR 10yr 101*
Black Maple Hill Single
Black Maple Hill Small
Old Rip VW 10yr (1 sealed) 1 open*
EWSB '93, '94
Pappy 15yr, (2 sealed) 1 open*
Van Winkle Lot B (2 sealed) 1 open
Van Winkle Rye*
4 Roses Single
4 Roses Small
ER Single 10yr*
Stagg '05, 2 '06 sealed 1 open, '07 open
Saz '06 sealed, '07 open
Handy '06 1 open, 1 sealed, '07 open
WLW '06 sealed, '07 open
ER '06 1 open, 1 sealed: NO '07...gotta find one
Baby Saz*
Old Pogue*

So...I realized I still need to hunt down ERSB to date
I need ER BTAC '07, when I went to get it the warehouse was still shipping '06. I can still find '07 Stagg and Saz on the shelf.

So for this tasting I'm willing to do 4 to 5 bottles of my 'shelf' stuff, and then crack open maybe Lot 'B' as an example of 'great' bourbon. Depending how many show up, maybe 1/2 oz of Pappy 15. Mostly I want to give them great examples of bourbon they can easily find. On a 2nd round of tasting, which'll be much fewer, then break out the outstanding bourbons.

* indicate open bottles

I'm thinking:
Baby Saz
Old Grand Dad Bonded
Rittenhouse Rye 100
Wild Turkey 101
Old Rip 107
Mitchner's Rye
ER 10 yr

So what would be your 4 or 5 top picks for Bourbon Newbies?

04-16-2008, 06:48
If I were doing a tasting for non-bourbon people, I would prepare 4-6 1/2oz pours that I can talk them through, pointing out what makes them unique compared to each other.

Of your list:
1792 (high malt content)
Knob Creek (Standard bourbon)
ORVW 10yo (Wheater)
Rittenhouse (rye)

if more:
ERSB (low rye and an opportunity to discuss single barrels)
Old Grand Dad (high rye)

Then since you had done fairly small pours and covered most of the basics of production and such, you can put some of the others on the sideboard, maybe with a little card telling some of the details to let them try on their own.

I see no reason to put more than one rye in an intro to bourbon tasting. But I figure just put anything that's open out and let them try it after going through the tasting...and since you'll likely be offering beer to your brew buddies, I doubt too much damage will be done to them...by having done small pours to begin with they will be less likely to do some huge, bottle emptying pours.

Mainly try to do the initial tasting in a fairly organized, yet fun way, then open it up to other drinks.

04-16-2008, 09:11
Thanks...trying to keep the damage to my collection minmal while sharing what I have. Sort of a conflict of interests!

I'm not the most knowledgable guy on bourbon either, so I'll have to research what I offer to explain where it came from etc... I just know I like the stuff and there's a lot out there!

I have time, one of the guys who hosted the 1st tasting lives in the bay area, so whenever he flies back down we'll set it up.

04-16-2008, 09:28
Tips to minimize damage to the collection:

Smaller pours
Offering alternative, like your three tapped beers for after the tasting.
Suggest people to bring stuff, like their own beers or interesting things they would like to share after the formal tasting period.

But yeah, it will be very different if you've got 6 or seven or if you've got 20.

04-16-2008, 10:57
I think that's a good idea. 1/2oz pours in a wide lowball glass. I've got some stuff I don't care for so if they are interested in more then I've got 'reserves' to let them sample.

Plus 3 beers on tap and a few bottles in the fridge that need to be consumed soon. Damn double IPA's don't last long before they lose their hoppy aroma.