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  1. #1
    Connoisseur
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    Am I doing this right?

    I'm kind of new to bourbon, so what I have been doing the last few weeks is to buy and sample as many middle shelf "good" ones as I can, to try and get a sort of baseline idea of what a good bottle should taste like.

    My plan is to eventually finish most of these off in the next few weeks or months (I'm not a big drinker, so this will take a while) and then set my sights higher, for some of the top shelf stuff. I figure that way, I can truly appreciate an exceptionally fine bourbon.

    I understand, however, that a high price does not always equal better quality. So, I'm in a grey area of how to proceed from here. I don't have a ton of money to blow, so if I'm going to spend $50-$100 for one bottle I want to be sure I'm getting something that is worth the money.

    Does that make sense? Here is what I have so far. Is this a good start to establish a baseline? I posted this same picture in another thread here earlier today, if it looks familiar to you, that's why.

    DSCF3570.jpg
    He made himself another drink and thought how much better the Perrier was than anything else you could put in whisky... Hemingway

  2. #2
    Connoisseur
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    May 2012
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    Glendale, AZ
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    530

    Re: Am I doing this right?

    Yep, that's what I did as well.

    I'd add Buffalo Trace to the list of great mid-shelf pours to try. Knob Creek is about $25 here and is what I consider to be 'what great bourbon should taste like' (just a personal opinion, obviously).

    Other than that, I'd say you're ready to attack the higher priced bottles... that is, once you're comfortable with discerning the difference between the brands you've already tried. I think that's the only real 'test': Once you figure out how and why different bourbons are different (in the taste itself, not just the theory), then you'll appreciate higher quality.

  3. #3
    Connoisseur
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    Re: Am I doing this right?

    Quote Originally Posted by JPBoston View Post
    Yep, that's what I did as well.

    I'd add Buffalo Trace to the list of great mid-shelf pours to try. Knob Creek is about $25 here and is what I consider to be 'what great bourbon should taste like' (just a personal opinion, obviously).

    Other than that, I'd say you're ready to attack the higher priced bottles... that is, once you're comfortable with discerning the difference between the brands you've already tried. I think that's the only real 'test': Once you figure out how and why different bourbons are different (in the taste itself, not just the theory), then you'll appreciate higher quality.
    Thanks JP. That's exactly what I am trying to do. I'm getting better at it. I need to devise some kind of blind taste test for myself though.

    Oh, and I forgot to add that I have had Buffalo Trace, and Woodford Reserve recently as well, so I know what they are like. I really like both, esp. the WR. I need to get a bottle of Knob Creek though, it's been a couple of years since I have tasted that one.

    As a long time scotch drinker I have occasionally tried bourbons over the years, but it's only now that my interest in them has grown.

  4. #4
    Advanced Taster
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    Nov 2012
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    247

    Re: Am I doing this right?

    Alden, That is a nice pic of good pours. As my dad would say, "If you can't get it done with those, maybe you shouldn't be doing it."

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Sep 1999
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    Chicago
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    12,540

    Re: Am I doing this right?

    There's a lot of good bourbon to explore and enjoy without ever spending more than $50 for a bottle. You won't taste everything but you also won't miss much. (Tip: find a rich bourbon-drinking buddy to share the expensive stuff with you.)

  6. #6
    Taster
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    Oct 2011
    Location
    Washington, DC
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    64

    Re: Am I doing this right?

    I think you are on the right track. It is my understanding that the best way to learn about bourbon is to drink a shitload of bourbon. It's what I do.

  7. #7
    Connoisseur
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    Re: Am I doing this right?

    Quote Originally Posted by cowdery View Post
    There's a lot of good bourbon to explore and enjoy without ever spending more than $50 for a bottle. You won't taste everything but you also won't miss much. (Tip: find a rich bourbon-drinking buddy to share the expensive stuff with you.)
    Thanks for the advice. Coming from you, it holds some weight.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grain Belt View Post
    Alden, That is a nice pic of good pours. As my dad would say, "If you can't get it done with those, maybe you shouldn't be doing it."
    A wise man.

    Quote Originally Posted by keith18 View Post
    I think you are on the right track. It is my understanding that the best way to learn about bourbon is to drink a shitload of bourbon. It's what I do.
    That's what I plan to do to!
    He made himself another drink and thought how much better the Perrier was than anything else you could put in whisky... Hemingway

  8. #8
    Apprentice
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    Feb 2013
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    42

    Re: Am I doing this right?

    I've only been drinking bourbon since February, but I've tried to have one or two pours just about every night since. I choose to see this as a quest for knowledge, not a sign of alcoholism.

    In that time, I've done several blind taste tests in my dining room. I have two identical glasses -- started out with highball ones, but eventually bought two glencairn glasses. I have some of those sticky colored dots they put on garage sale items. I write A and B on two same colored dots and stick to bottom of glasses. Pour up identical amounts of bourbon, noting which is which on the back of a piece of paper. Then I close my eyes and move the glasses around (I actually turn them on a placemat in random).

    Then I nose and taste a bit of A and take notes. Stop for a glass of water and maybe a plain water cracker. And then a bit of B with notes. This first pass is to evaluate each bourbon on its own merits. Then I go back and forth to note distinct differences between the two. Then I transcribe my notes to iPad/iPhone.

    I've specifically put wheaters against rye. Cheap against pricey. Same distillery. Different distilleries. Until my recent splurge on a $100 bottle of Jefferson's 18 Year, I've not spent more than $40 on a single bottle. It did help that I got my favorite Rock Hill Farms on sale for $38 though.

    All of the above said, I've recently found much more enjoyment just pourin' and sippin' -- no notes.

  9. #9
    Connoisseur
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    Mar 2013
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    Re: Am I doing this right?

    Michang that is a great idea for a blind test. I may try it (I will try it, if I know me, and I do) but at this point I am already beginning to be able to tell the differences between some of the bottles, such as Evan Williams black VS Weller 12. That is easy. I can also tell the difference between a wheat bourbon and a 51% or higher rye. Again, not that difficult.

    The difficulty comes in trying to tell the difference between two that are really similar. I don't know if I will ever get that far.
    He made himself another drink and thought how much better the Perrier was than anything else you could put in whisky... Hemingway

  10. #10
    Enthusiast
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    Mar 2013
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    O'Fallon, MO
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    438

    Re: Am I doing this right?

    I would not wait to get the higher priced stuff until you've finished the lower. The main thing that higher priced bourbon gives you is age in the barrel. So find out if you like extra aged bourbon. Get some RHF, ER10 and/or EC12 and see what the wood does for you, compared to their lower priced and younger aged siblings. Side-by-side, blind tastings are what will teach you more than any other method. The best (my opinion) extra aged bourbons have a hint of shellac in the nose. Whenever I smell that, I love the taste as well.

 

 

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