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  1. #1
    Enthusiast
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    Jul 2003
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    Victoria Canada, Whistler, Maui
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    454

    Non-bourbon tastes found in Bourbon

    Last night I was enjoying a pour of BT with a bit more water than I usually do. A new taste came rushing to me... COCONUT. I've never tasted that before, and it wasn't fleeting... the experience was reproduceable.

    This got me to thinking... we all know of the familiar bourbon flavours (vanilla, oak, citrus, smoke, leather, etc.) but I'd be interested in hearing some of the unusual flavours that you've encountered while enjoying your favourite pour. I'll start with a couple of my experiences:

    Buffalo Trace (mixed 4 parts BT with 1 part distilled water) = Coconut.

    Wathens (mixed with just a splash of water) = Chocolate


  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Sep 2002
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    Toronto, Canada
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    9,043

    Re: Non-bourbon tastes found in Bourbon

    Excellent point.

    I get menthol from some bourbons, not a taste I'd associate normally with said drink.

    Gary

  3. #3
    Taster
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Spokane, WA
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    93

    Re: Non-bourbon tastes found in Bourbon

    I got a distinct MINTY taste from a bottle of Old Overholt Rye. I struggled at first to put a finger on it, but then once I did, it was clear as a bell. Not the DOMINANT taste, mind you, but it was there.

    Mint.

  4. #4
    Connoisseur
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    May 2003
    Location
    Virginia
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    621

    Re: Non-bourbon tastes found in Bourbon

    I got a distinct MINTY taste from a bottle of Old Overholt Rye.
    I've never had Overholt, but have you ever had Saz 18yo!? It just SCREAMS mint! Actually, in the rye department, it's so minty that I prefer the more bourbon-like ORVW 13yo.

    To me, the rye bourbons all seem to have a menthol/minty component which I've always called the "small grain" (ie. rye) influence.

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
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    Sep 1999
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    Chicago
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    12,536

    Re: Non-bourbon tastes found in Bourbon

    Chris Morris, master distiller at Brown-Forman, divides the bourbon taste spectrum into quadrants: floral, fruity, candy and herbal. I'm not sure how to account for things like smoke and old leather in that, or maybe I'm remembering the whole thing wrong. On the candy side, nugat is something I taste from time to time, and definitely caramel. Mint is characteristic of products with a lot of rye in them, as are other spices such as black pepper. On the fruit side, sometimes you get citrus and other times dark fruits like figs.

    Teasing out these different flavors is one of the most fun parts of the bourbon experience.

  6. #6

    Re: Non-bourbon tastes found in Bourbon

    I've come across molasses, caramel and brown sugar, mostly in the wheated bourbons. I've also noticed mint here and there, but am not observant enough to note a trend as to what type drink -- probably rye or rye-heavy bourbon, according to others here. I also occasionally get figs and/or dried apricots in some of the more complex bourbons, like single-barrel products.

  7. #7
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Jul 2002
    Posts
    210

    Re: Non-bourbon tastes found in Bourbon

    Chuck mentioned black pepper a few posts ago. That happens to be a distinct aroma/flavor I have frequently encountered when drinking Old Charter 12 yr. old (The Classic '90'). I've never experienced it in any other bourbon. It doesn't overwhelm, but it provides a nice spicy dimension to the mix.

    Personally I would describe black pepper as a rare characteristic for bourbons. But other forum members may have encountered it in other bourbons besides Old Charter.

    -Troy

  8. #8
    Administrator in exile
    Join Date
    Aug 2002
    Posts
    3,904

    Re: Non-bourbon tastes found in Bourbon

    I have been experiencing the flavors of melons in some of my bourbons lately. In particular while tasting 4 Roses yellow label and with EWSB '93. Actually I think I have always tasted those flavors, but only recently have I been able to put my finger on what they really were.

    Also, Last night I was having a nice pour of Buffalo Trace and I was overwhelmed with a chocolaty flavor. So much so that upon hearing about it Leslie insisted on a glass. She was not impressed, saying that it just, "tasted like bourbon"

  9. #9
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Virginia
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    621

    Re: Non-bourbon tastes found in Bourbon

    If you hold out until the finish, Blanton's has a crisp, clean, almost by-itself blast of pumpkin pie spice. I get it almost every tasting.

  10. #10
    Guru
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    May 2003
    Location
    Moscow Mills, MO
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    2,507

    Re: Non-bourbon tastes found in Bourbon

    I am totally jealous of everyone who can find the subtle tastes and identify them. I guess there have been too many pots of three alarm chile and BYFO (burn your face off) hot wings across my buds. While I can definitely tell the difference between different pours, sadly all I can judge for the moment is whether I like it or not. My nose can find all the elements described, but I guess I need to keep on developing my taste buds. As the axiom says, if at first you don't succeed.....

    Dane

 

 

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