I scouted quite a while looking for a thread to place this post, and I think Linn's post created the perfect context.
In the past I have expressed my hope that others would display consistency in their bourbon likes and dislikes (thus enabling me to make prudent purchases based on their experience). I, on the other hand, have found myself to be the very model of fickleness. Even so, my latest bourbonic adventure involves a flip-flop that would be a credit to any politician. ("Read my lips, 'I did not have a relationship with that bourbon, Elijah Craig 12 y/o.' ")
In Chapter One I was just getting acquainted with a variety of bourbons after years of being under a spell that was cast upon me during a visit to Lynchburg back in the 70's. One of my early experiments was EC 12. It too was enchanting, in its own way. "What are those flavors?", I kept asking myself. "This stuff is absolutely fascinating!" It never occurred to me to ask myself whether I actually liked it.
In Chapter two I branched out considerably, probably way too fast to absorb all of the new taste sensations that I encountered. Nevertheless, a new favorite [family] emerged. Depending on just how much oomph I'm in the mood for, either Russell's Reserve or Kentucky Spirit became my absolute favorite, with RR well in the lead on a value-for-dollar basis. I know there are many other enjoyable bourbons, but for me those were the leaders of the pack.
In Chapter three I started revisiting previously opened bottles, trying to recall the nose and taste sensations before I opened the bottle in each case. I was amazed at how unreliable my recall was. One of the odder occurrences was my discovery that I liked Evan Williams Single Barrel, 1992 vintage, better than EC 12, which seemed to have become overpowering and just downright confusing. (In contrast, earlier I had dismissed EWSB as weak and lacking a distinctive character.)
Chapter four brings us up to the present time, but first a little side note. Until yesterday I had stuck with Russell's Reserve or WT101 on an almost daily basis for a week or more. Then yesterday I decided I wanted a change of pace. I happened to pick EWSB. At first taste I wondered whether I had grabbed the wrong bottle, perhaps Benchmark. Suddenly the words "weak and lacking a distinctive character" seemed apropos once again. How puzzling!
Today I was once again pondering my ever-changing taste, and it occurred to me that it might be interesting to try the EC 12 again. I did, and it was magnificent, full-bodied, spicy/minty, and a pleasantly peppery-hot finish (am I imagining a similarity to Knob Creek?).
Could that be the ghost of Elijah Craig that I hear, laughing tauntingly from afar? Or is it, as Linn suggested, the bourbon laughing, as it continuously beguiles me, while my taste and aroma receptors struggle futilely to find truth?