My $0.02 worth
I don't get the earlier examples of chugging bourbon as an "acquired taste" example. Could (and like many, did) back in college but today, I would like to think I'm a lot smarter.
Its a matter of context. I will disagree with some other that "acquired is not really a taste". I am going to stray outside the bourbon world and use single malt scotch as my example. Certainly Lagavulin, Laphroaig & Ardbeg fall into the category of "acquired taste". Noboday new (or even experienced) to the whiskey world haeve liked these "out of the box", first timers, etc. Yet definitely these are some of the great single malts. Not for me even after trying several bottles, although I love another Islay - Bowmore. Got friends who love Lagavulin who agree its an "acquired taste".
In your case, Sotnsipper, it sounded like it was more condescending. If you have tried a couple of bottles and still don't like it, than "acquired taste" is crap. You don't like it and everybody's got different tastes. I agree with you - I don't mind re-trying something if its not a wallet breaker, but to shell out serious coin for something that I've tried several times and don't care for - no dice. Lagavulin is $75-$85 a bottle now in MI. There is a lot more bourbons I want to try before I re-try that whiskey.
I like VOB BIB not because I think it is necessarily an even better-than-average bourbon. I like it because it occupies a unique niche on the spectrum. Nothing else quite tastes like it. In part, that's because that distillery doesn't bottle that particular whiskey as any other expressions. With the exception of 1792, which is a different mash bill anyway, VOB is--at six years--considerably older than any of the other bourbons produced at Tom Moore.
Acquired tastes can change as quickly as acquired bottles remaining in the bunker. The variables are exponential... season, age, time, air etc. I only write-off a bottle if it lacks in fundamentals. BB
Try it, you might like it. There is no use going through life hoping we are happy with what we know today.
"I'm and optimist, even if the glass is half empty, there's still more in the bottle!!!!!"
There's still a VOB 100 proof, it's just not BIB.
There are two factors at work. The acclimation to high proof spirits and acquired taste. I see where Tim and Chuck were coming from by addressing both in the same euphemism. But I think it would cause less confusion to address them separately.
One can certainly become acclimated to drinking GNS (vodka) at high proof or very dry gin martinis. But the gin drinker may very well find strong tasting whiskey unpalatable and it would have little to do with alcohol. But his past experience with gin will be helpfully in his acquiring a taste for bourbon or scotch in that he has already became acclimated to drinking spirits.
But in fairness to Chuck, part of acquiring a taste for whiskey is also developing the ability to taste beyond the ethanol. I would think tasting the difference between two gins with differing taste profiles requires less of this ability. But I'm just guessing. I'm not realy a gin kinda guy.
The question on my mind: does the acclimation to high proof spirits necessarily result in the ability to recognize the more subtle differences in taste profiles. I think the answer is no. But it does facilitate the acquisition of that skill. Its the first necessary step in the process.
"A person can work up a mean, mean thirst after a hard day of nothing much at all . . . "
Well, I think some of you misinterpreted my post as being about 'chugging' high-proof liquor -- and I'm used to that. It was not, but Chuck got it -- and I'm used to that, too.
My point was, primarily, that whisk(e)y, including bourbon, isn't a natural drink for humans, whatever the proof. Virtually nobody 'likes' one's first taste of un-diluted bourbon!
But, one comes to appreciate it through practice. Practice also cultivates a sense of properties -- you come to understand what whisk(e)y/bourbon is about, and what to expect and enjoy about particular versions of it.
Thus, tasting and appreciating our native spirit is definitely an "acquired taste". You don't really 'like' it, at first, but you come to appreciate its qualities with practice and experience. The same holds true for particular brands/labels.
How is that different, really, than opera or the symphony? (Other than hangover, I mean.)