Over the years, a number of SBers have suggested that the way to sample an unfamiliar bourbon is to go to a bar and order a shot. Or to buy a mini. Or a 375.
You fellows must hang out in really nice joints. I've never been in a bar where I could do any serious tasting. It is hard enough to find a bar keep who knows what "neat" means.
Then there is the volume issue. Some bourbons seem to benefit from being allowed to breathe for a while. Hard to let a mini catch its breath. A 375 might be capable of some shallow inhaling. My palate is slow to catch on. The bourbon might be truly wonderful but if my palate were off when I sampled the shot or the mini, I might never order it again. It takes me at least a half bottle before I can begin to "appreciate" a bourbon so I try to withhold judgment until I have given it a fair shot, so to speak. In the case of 4R YL and SmB, it took several bottles and several years. I kept coming back because I admire Jim Rutledge's work. If I had never heard of him and just tried a mini of YL, that would have been the end of that. Even now, I don't love those two but I can "appreciate" them.
So, how much bourbon or time do you need to reach a definitive conclusion?