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  1. #1
    Guru
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    Sep 2004
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    Jackson, MS
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    12,131

    The Reverse of the Mirror

    Years of conducting blind tastings taught me perception can have a big influence on how we taste things. It's just our nature and I'm as subject to the influence as anyone else. If you hand a four year old a piece of broccoli he may taste it and say 'yuck' which is a true assessment because he has no perception of what broccoli is or how it should taste, he just knows he doesn't like it.

    Yet I've handed an experienced grown up a glass of 12 year old single malt and have him say the adult equivalent of yuck because he was going on taste alone without knowing what was in the glass. This opposed to the fact he has a bottle of this same stuff in his home bar where he considers it to be a first rate choice.

    I choose single malt as an example because those canny Scots have made an art of overaged, limited issue, specially finished, very expensive whisys (some of which can be truly dreadful) but they're not selling higher quality rather they are selling exclusivity. Not a bad thing in and of itself and serves the role of corporate gift giving during the holidays, but may not my first drinking choice. Anybody remember the 15 year old Canadian Club limited bottling they came out with some years back? Beautifully packaged in a fancy box it made an impression but in truth was a very lightly flavored dram that I would just as soon mix with ginger ale as drink straight.

    I've found price, packaging and the exclusive factors don't guarantee that either I or my guests will like it any more than a regular offering and in fact may like it less because overaging can easily throw a whisky out of balance, yet if it has the 'right' label guests will gush over it because, well, they think they should, it's just instinct to follow the lead because no one wants to be thought of as unable to appreciate what they have been told is the good stuff. We are all the World's greatest expert on our individual preferences though and blind tasting is the best way to separate out the members of the herd.

    My son is grown now and he still won't eat broccoli no matter how finely you mince and try to hide it in a casserole.
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  2. #2
    Enthusiast
    Join Date
    Apr 2008
    Location
    Bourbon Desert of Nevada
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    292

    Re: The Reverse of the Mirror

    True dat, sometimes the emperor has no clothes and it takes a fresh perspective to come out in the open. Maybe broccoli really IS bad

    I have a flask I sometimes fill with either scotch or bourbon. Amazing how often I'll take or offer a swig and then try to figure out just what the heck it is... oh crap it's the brandy from two months ago- no wonder it's such a lousy whiskey.

    Enlightening how a blind tasting exposes certain truths
    Of all the things I've lost, I miss my mind the most




  3. #3
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Apr 2011
    Location
    Toledo, OH
    Posts
    805

    Re: The Reverse of the Mirror

    Quote Originally Posted by squire View Post
    Years of conducting blind tastings taught me perception can have a big influence on how we taste things. It's just our nature and I'm as subject to the influence as anyone else. If you hand a four year old a piece of broccoli he may taste it and say 'yuck' which is a true assessment because he has no perception of what broccoli is or how it should taste, he just knows he doesn't like it.

    Yet I've handed an experienced grown up a glass of 12 year old single malt and have him say the adult equivalent of yuck because he was going on taste alone without knowing what was in the glass.

    .
    Years ago, my wife's uncle, who was a beverage distributor, served Dom Perignon Brut on New Years Eve. Several women squinched up there faces because it was brut and they were used to somewhat sweeter fare. In succeeding years, he declined to cast pearls before swine even though he got the pearls at wholesale.
    I am inclined to think that I really do like Blanton's and would buy it anyway even if it didn't come with those cute little horsies for my collection. Maybe. There is always a serious disagreement between my honesty and my frugality. H says, "That's damn good stuff!" F replies, "Yeah, but you could have two bottles of ETL or two handles of AAA."
    If God made anything better than bourbon he must have kept it for Hisself.

  4. #4
    Guru
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    Sep 2004
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    Jackson, MS
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    12,131

    Re: The Reverse of the Mirror

    Dorothy Parker was walking up to front door of a hotel and saw a fellow she didn't care for about to enter. Feelings were mutual and when he opened the door for her to go in first said in a smarmy voice, "Age before beauty", she breezed past him saying "Pearls before swine".
    We're Bourbon Geeks, it's who we are, it's what we do.

  5. #5
    Taster
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    Dec 2013
    Location
    SF Bay Area
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    89

    Re: The Reverse of the Mirror

    Same thing happens with wine, cigars, perfume...anything where taste meets price meets perception.

  6. #6
    Guru
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    Oct 2011
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    Marietta, GA
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    2,347

    Re: The Reverse of the Mirror

    Agree - I'd love to say everything in my cabinet has been blind tasted against comparable pours. Probably not true, but the vast majority has at one time or another. Besides avoiding perceptions, I've found it saves me money! Learning that I like Jeff 10 the same (or close enough to the same) as WP saves me $40+ a bottle. Without blind tasting, I likely would convince myself of the superiority of the WP.
    Gary
    =-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=
    "Too much of anything is bad, but too much of good whiskey is barely enough." - Mark Twain
    "Because Whiskey Matters!" - David Perkins

  7. #7
    Connoisseur
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    Jan 2013
    Location
    Downriver, Detroit, MI
    Posts
    879

    Re: The Reverse of the Mirror

    A lot of truth being spoken in this thread.... I better get away from too much of this stuff;
    bad for my humble opinion of my own humble opinions!

  8. #8
    Connoisseur
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    Dec 2013
    Location
    Seattle
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    683

    Re: The Reverse of the Mirror

    I'm but a plebe in these matters, but I know from a side by side tasting at a bar that I prefer Van Winkle Rye to the PVW 20yr which I never would have predicted based on reputation and the newbie tendency to ascribe higher quality to greater age. I also know that I prefer a number of $30 bottles to some $50+ bottles and it wasn't even blind tasting - it was just being honest about what the taste buds were saying.

  9. #9
    Connoisseur
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    Jan 2013
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    Downriver, Detroit, MI
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    879

    Re: The Reverse of the Mirror

    Quote Originally Posted by flahute View Post
    I'm but a plebe in these matters, but I know from a side by side tasting at a bar that I prefer Van Winkle Rye to the PVW 20yr which I never would have predicted based on reputation and the newbie tendency to ascribe higher quality to greater age. I also know that I prefer a number of $30 bottles to some $50+ bottles and it wasn't even blind tasting - it was just being honest about what the taste buds were saying.
    Ah, yes. Your taste buddies will never steer you wrong. They are your buddies after all, right?

  10. #10

    Re: The Reverse of the Mirror

    ambiance sometimes makes a difference on both taste and label choice. ya sitting around a campfire with bunch o' buds that rolled in on harleys, do ya want some goofey guy playing golf with his dog on the label? and bookers would definitely taste better than cognac.

 

 

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