It is my opinion that you've been sampling bourbon for a whopping two months now and your history of enjoying the "cheap stuff" mixed with the "sweat stuff" is clouding your ability to enjoy good bourbon for what it is.
You're trying to hard.....and I don't think you're appreciating each different bourbon for what it brings to the palate.
I woudnt say that I like it better than the expensive stuff, but WT 101, and WL Antique 107, are everyday pours that I like better than a lot of stuff that I have spent twice as much on, and not like as much....
"Just because I feel like it" may be the most special occasion of them all...treating yourself or the ones you love without a Hallmark approved reason is the ultimate.
A suggestion I have for those new to bourbon is to try to determine what it is supposed to taste like. If you have an idea in advance, this may help you see what bourbon, and the different brands, ages, etc., are all about. This doesn't mean you will enjoy it (and if you don't, that's okay - relatively few people like bourbon, even mixed) but it may help you understand the basic flavor, or "palate".
This is something we talk a lot about here: in general; in relation to the bourbons of one company; and as between different brands.
In general, I would say bourbon has a sweetish, grainy taste with a flavor in the background of toasted or charred oak wood. The corn flavors come through, and for bourbons made with an addition of rye, there is a spicy, minty note as well. (On top of that, some bourbons have a fruity taste which can come from the way it is aged). Some people sum this up by talking about a lightly smoky, candy corn and spice taste.
Some bourbons are high in alcohol (Crown Royal is a standard 40% alcohol by volume, some bourbons reach 50% or higher) so an alcohol aftertaste is a feature of a lot of bourbon. It can be moderated by adding more ice or water or mix - or using less whiskey.
Some people never come to terms with it and again that's fine, but I found in my own case I could "get" bourbon more when I read up on it before sampling different brands and expressions.
There's lots of great info on this board about all that.
This thread is making me thirsty!
Thanks for the recap...as you noted I'm new to "bourbon" and hence my question about how others feel about the cheaper brands. I've spent a lot of money trying to discover what I like and find I can always count on WT 101 or Buffalo Trace to make me happy.
Trying too hard? I'm drinking bourbon and talking about it in a forum called straightbourbon.com. Maybe I need to find another place to discuss bourbon?
Thanks to all for the input and discussion.