Greetings, all. This is my maiden voyage.

I'm a relatively recent member, and a newcomer to the joys of straight bourbon whiskey (I also have a significant taste for that scottish also-ran ). I tend to immerse myself in new interests, and so I am fascinated by every aspect of the experience, from the lore and politics of the industry, to the processes involved in production, to the presentation and tasting nuances of the various bottlings.

My current objective is to identify the basic bourbon taste profile that suits me most, without wasting too much of my limited cash. I have been investigating the bourbon world by reading about various bourbons, distilleries, history, personalities, and tasting notes. In the process I have devised a plan to sample the major bourbon offerings available in a cost-effective attempt to narrow my field of concentration to a relatively limited range of bourbons that I am likely to prefer.

My current choices and rationale so far are as follows:

-Elijah Craig 12yo
In theory, I should be able to form my basic opinion of Heaven Hill offerings with this. While there may be no reason to ignore, for example, Evan Williams Single Barrel because of a less-than-enthusiastic experience with EC-12, I figure if I really hate EC I should probably focus on a different distillery to begin with.

-Knob Creek
Same idea here. If I like KC, then other Beam bottlings bear closer scrutiny, otherwise I should probably look elsewhere for something I'll like right away.

-Wild Turkey Russell's Reserve
Again, my guess is that this is the best representative of mainstream WT brew. Granted, Rare Breed or Kentucky Spirit may be better, but I don't want to risk my budget on potential exceptions until I know what I like in general.

-W.L. Weller 12yo
My impression is that this is the quintessential wheated bourbon, which should inform me about that as well as whether to pursue the rest of the Weller and Van Winkle line.

What I would like to know is what everybody thinks of my plan and choices so far, given my stated goal. If you think my goal itself is misguided, tell me why. I'd also like to know what other choices anyone might recommend in the same vein.

I have already come to recognize that people have different tastes, and that what some may love I may hate, and vice-versa. I also understand that even my own tastes my vary from time to time, and may grow more discerning as my tasting experience grows. Finally, I realize that any given bottling may vary somewhat from example to example, especially when dealing with single-barrel expressions.

Here's what I've actually tried so far:

-Maker's Mark
Unlike some, my impressions of MM were generally good. Not great, but good. I found MM to be light, balanced, sweet, and very approachable. The kind of thing I might choose for a general table whisky. I did not find it demanding, sophisticated, complex, or particularly cost-effective (~$28/liter in my neck of the woods).

-Old Rip Van Winkle 12yo
This was a very confusing experience, given the reputation of this bottling. I am convinced at this
point that my taste buds are simply inexperienced or irregular, or that I encountered a poor bottle. I found this stuff entirely too medicinal, and I lived with the whole bottle before I formed a complete opinion. It did seem to improve a bit toward the second half, but honestly I was glad when it was over. I know I should try another, perhaps after more experience with other bourbons, but as of now I just don't care for it.

You may note that I have not yet tried anything with rye in the mash bill (that's right, isn't it?), so I may prefer non-wheated bourbons.

Finally, I would like to say that this forum has been quite indispensable in my quest for information on the character of various bourbons and distilleries. What impresses me so much is not just that it is the best bourbon forum around, but that it is the best forum of any kind I have been exposed to. Part of this impression is that the user interface just happens to suit my personal style, but the real asset of this forum is its members. Most of the regular posters conduct themselves as knowledgeable, helpful, unassuming individuals with an honest passion for whisky and whisky culture. They contribute what seems to me to be an incredible amount of information, pictures, debate, etc. and clearly enjoy doing so. For my part, I enjoy lurking (and learning) here immensely.