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  1. #1
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Dec 2011
    Location
    Columbia, Missouri
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    249

    How to Convert the Reluctant Bourbon Drinker

    So I realize that respecting others' drinking preferences should always outweigh my own interests. It's of course fine for someone to prefer gin over whiskey. And coercion in matters taste just generally strikes me as a bad idea.

    But I think my mother-in-law could be ripe for bourbon conversion. She insists that she can't touch whiskey, but she enjoys (and presumptively critiques) spicy, dark flavored red wines, is always willing to try new alcohols and generally enjoys those she tries. I have a BH, EWB, an EC12, and a gift bottle of Johnny Walker Black on hand right now but might be willing to get some more if they could help with the conversion.

    How do you recommend that I go about persuading her to try and enjoy bourbon or whiskey in general? (BH first? The scotch? In water? Over ice? In Coke? etc.) What has worked in the past? (I know that some of you must have succeeded in bringing your wives over to the dark side.)
    I tell you, we are here on Earth to fart around, and don't let anybody tell you different.
    ― Kurt Vonnegut

  2. #2
    Guru
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    Oct 2011
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    Marietta, GA
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    2,544

    Re: How to Convert the Reluctant Bourbon Drinker

    My wife enjoyed whiskey when we met, but not nearly as much as I do. I think the first hurdle is to having her being open minded about it. It sounds like she isn't afraid to drink liquor (which is often the excuse I hear from friends, that "hard liquor" isn't their thing), but for whatever reason she doesn't seem interested in bourbon. Might need to find out why she insists she can't touch whiskey (perhaps a poor experience in the past), and try to overcome that first. If she tried it before and just thought it was horrible, that might help you determine what she tried, and what she doesn't like.

    I know some friends are stunned when I've shown them a Whisky magazine that describes the tasting notes similar to what they are accustomed to for wine. This has gotten some of them at least open to consideration, so that might work as well?

    Good luck!
    Gary
    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    "Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough." - Mark Twain
    "Because Whiskey Matters!" - David Perkins

  3. #3
    Disciple
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    Apr 2010
    Location
    Wisconsin
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    1,537

    Re: How to Convert the Reluctant Bourbon Drinker

    Given the loss of age statements, price increases and scarcity, I want less Bourbon drinkers, not more.

  4. #4
    Connoisseur
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    Dec 2011
    Posts
    948

    Re: How to Convert the Reluctant Bourbon Drinker

    I would say give them a double of Bookers and make them shoot it! In all seriousness though, I would start by introducing someone to a mellow, lower proof wheated bourbon like Makers.

  5. #5
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Mar 2012
    Location
    New Orleans, LA
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    914

    Re: How to Convert the Reluctant Bourbon Drinker

    I think the key is to teach people HOW to drink whiskey for enjoyment. You don't drink it like water, or shoot it. I find many people consider bourbon to be a catalyst for being wasted rather than something to be tasted and savored.

    Therefore, I am always disrespectful when someone declares that they can't drink something. After I rule out the possibility that is a health risk, it usually ends up being a past experience, usually involving shooting something. I feel it is a challenge that I need to help this person overcome.

    For example, my mother insisted that she hated tequila, and could never drink it after an experience she had when she was 25. Despite explaining to her that shooting large amounts of gold tequila will make anyone sick, she was insistent. I pretended to give up, then poured her a small glass of Corrido Anjeo and told her it was a special grappa (she loves anything Italian) and that she should sip it. She was furious when I told her after her second glass that she'd been drinking tequila. Mwah ha ha!

    A friend got plastered on his 21st birthday on shots of Jameson, and insisted that just the smell of whiskey makes him sick. For some reason, he also thought that Jameson was some top shelf, prize whiskey (and he's British!). All it took to turn him back into a believer was a 1/2 ounce of Sazerac 18 and instructions on how to nose, sip, and taste. He's gone on to bragging about his single malt purchases every time he sees me now.

  6. #6
    Disciple
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    Apr 2010
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    Wisconsin
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    Re: How to Convert the Reluctant Bourbon Drinker

    If I may step away from my original, snarky response, I would like to second Trey's point.

    When dealing with first-time, hesitant drinkers, I show them first how to smell, but even more importantly, I make them roll it around in the front of their mouth for at least 10 seconds before swallowing. Keeping it on your tongue longer seems counter-intuitive to most people at first, but then after they swallow the spirit they're shocked at being rewarded with flavor, rather than heat.

  7. #7
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Feb 2011
    Location
    Kansas City
    Posts
    149

    Re: How to Convert the Reluctant Bourbon Drinker

    Since your MIL already enjoys and critiques wine, try printing out some tasting notes on the bourbons you have on hand and challenge her to see if she can identify the flavors and aromas mentioned in the notes. I have found that my enjoyment of spirits and cigars has been enhanced by reading about other peoples experiences.
    Jim

  8. #8
    Guru
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    Oct 2011
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    Marietta, GA
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    2,544

    Re: How to Convert the Reluctant Bourbon Drinker

    Definitely agree with the "how tos". I find that folks look at me strange when I order what amounts to a shot of whiskey, and sip on it for 15 minutes. Understanding how to taste and enjoy bourbon is definitely key once they get past the mental block. I like Trey's approach :-) I've known people who don't even want to try something unless it costs a kidney to buy a bottle (as they believe price is the sole determinant of quality), and may try that approach with something they would consider "bottom shelf". I think if they thought that ETL cost $150 a bottle and sipped it for the first time, they'd be like "Wow - this is pretty good!"
    Gary
    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    "Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough." - Mark Twain
    "Because Whiskey Matters!" - David Perkins

  9. #9
    Taster
    Join Date
    May 2011
    Location
    Hagerstown, Maryland
    Posts
    53

    Re: How to Convert the Reluctant Bourbon Drinker

    Quote Originally Posted by White Dog View Post

    When dealing with first-time, hesitant drinkers, I show them first how to smell, but even more importantly, I make them roll it around in the front of their mouth for at least 10 seconds before swallowing. Keeping it on your tongue longer seems counter-intuitive to most people at first, but then after they swallow the spirit they're shocked at being rewarded with flavor, rather than heat.
    I completely agree with this. This technique is EXACTLY how I learned to like bourbon as such, and not drowned in coke. Find the flavor not the burn.
    "They say some of my stars drink whiskey. But I have found that the ones who drink milkshakes don't win many ball games." - Casey Stengal

  10. #10
    Virtuoso
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    Aug 2008
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    Tallahassee
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    1,402

    Re: How to Convert the Reluctant Bourbon Drinker

    Completely agree with teaching them to sip slower. They need to learn to SIP not DRINK. Holding it on the tung is a great idea.

    If your dealing with a wine drinker you need to be sure and tell them ahead of time not to breath in over the whiskey while it's in their mouth. For a beginner that will load up their sinuses with ethanol and ruin the experience for them. It really is a different technique than wine.

 

 

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