I just read the thread "getting started" and while I appreciate all the suggestions, I'd like some specifics for the first round of comparisons I have available. I went to Spec's in El Paso recently to get the selections not available in Las Cruces, NM. My inventory to date: OWA, WLW12, BT, ER, OGD86 (114 NA), and DonQuixote. The Don Quixote is a New Mexico product made from blue corn. A NM gimmick that is selling, btw. I'd still like to get a bottle of 4R 1B, but have to go back to ELP to get it. For starters, I have tried 1/2 oz. samples of each and am not disappointed with any of the selection, thanks to the recommendations of the guys here. OK, to learn how to make a meaningful taste evaluation: I see the importance of comparing apples to apples, wheat to wheat, rye-rye. I like Weller wheat so far, but appreciate the other bottles I have too, even the bottom shelf OGD. I also see the marked difference between OWA and WLW12. The OWA has a sweeter, more caramely aroma than the woodier WLW12. I just don't know enough about the other bottles to arrange them in order of increasing rye or barley, or whatever meaningful way, like I would a wine tasting of sweet vs dry reds, etc. To begin with, is it better to get to know the difference between different mashbill types, or to get to know one mashbill type more fully by comparing the intricacies of kindred pours? I'm going to enjoy this either way; just asking... On another note, I sure wish there were other bourbon enthusiasts to compare inventories with in my part of the country.
Re: taste comparisons
I would suggest setting up tastings to compare the difference between mashbill types. Not only is it one of the biggest differences between different bourbons, but it's among the easier things to identify in a tasting lineup. The 'whiskey tree' in the General Bourbon Forum is a great resource for comparing various mashbill types:
Originally Posted by staplegund
From what you have available, you could set up a tasting that goes: OWA, BT, OGD. This would give you a range of 'no rye', 'standard rye', and 'high rye' bourbons that are aged for roughly the same amount of time. You will also probably want to water down the OWA a bit due to the fact that it is higher proof than the other two offerings.
Re: taste comparisons
stablegund your wine tasting analogy is apt, I've done similar things when comparing wines of the same grape done in different styles (Moselle to Alsatian for example) but high alcohol grain derived barrel influenced whiskys are a different matter.
I suggest you pick the three Higgins mentioned and taste them blind for a week or so, or as soon as you've determined which recipe pleases you the most. Then explore other Bourbons in that same recipe category. I stress recipe over brand as I believe that's the most revealing and always taste them blind.