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  1. #1
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Baltimore, Maryland
    Posts
    111

    Tasting question

    If I want to compare a few bourbons, is it wise to do side by side comparisons, or should I stick with one brand a night?

  2. #2
    Guru
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Moscow Mills, MO
    Posts
    2,507

    Re: Tasting question

    Unless your memory is better than mine, I would suggest doing a couple at a time. Too many tend to run together and cause a lapse in cognitive thinking. If you stay with two and use the tasting notes on this site as a starting point and not get too confused you can sort out your preferences in short order. Trying too many too quick can also lead to misjudging good bourbons by judging them on one tasting. What you have eaten or drank before the test can make a world of difference too. Now all this is my humble opinion and truthfully I hold each bourbon on its own merit rather than compare it to others. My road may be a bit costly for some though in that I taste em as I buy em. Some haven't made the second go around yet, but they will.

  3. #3
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    621

    Re: Tasting question

    When I was in my exploration phase, I did mostly individual tastings. But nowadays my bourbon agenda is a little different, with the goal being to 'thin out the herd' a little, so I find myself doing a lot more side-by-side comparisons. Interestingly enough, I've found quite a few bourbons which on their own are quite nice don't stand up well to competition. YMMV, of course!

  4. #4
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Baltimore, Maryland
    Posts
    111

    Re: Tasting question

    Thanks guys, if you're doing comparisons, should I use water as a palate cleanser? I feel like I should use something since bourbon is so strong.

  5. #5
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    May 2004
    Location
    Upstate NY
    Posts
    509

    Re: Tasting question

    I always use water. so many bourbons...such little time...

  6. #6
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    May 2003
    Location
    Virginia
    Posts
    621

    Re: Tasting question

    Water seems to work well...also those unsalted oyster crackers seem to do a good palate washout. (I know those are very popular for wine tasting at least).

    Enjoy!

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006
    Join Date
    Dec 2001
    Location
    Rockland County, NY
    Posts
    1,937

    Re: Tasting question

    Alan,
    Great Question!!
    I love to do side by sides. I started with bourbons that were clearly different. Wheaters vs Ryes, High Proof vs low, Aged vs young, premium vs "bottom shelf". My challenge: Could I tell the difference? As my ability to descriminate improves, my side by sides get to products that are closer in style and I kid myself into thinking that I can tell really close products apart. ('94 EWSB vs '93 EWSB) Sometimes, I really think I can, others I wonder if I can even tell the brand.
    I tried lining up 3 or more bourbons, but it was sensory confusion. This same thing happens at tastings. Too many parameters, dulling of the taste buds, inability to clear that rye bite between samples.
    I always sample three ways, neat, w/water and on ice.
    That's me, YMMV.


  8. #8
    Connoisseur
    Join Date
    Nov 2003
    Location
    Birmingham, AL
    Posts
    540

    Re: Tasting question

    I love to do side by sides, too. And like you, I like to sample neat, with water, and with ice. At big tastings, it's often hard to spend the kinda time I like, especially at something like a whiskey festival where there's much more swallowing going on than spitting. I prefer to do the side by side contemplations in the peace and quiet of home (or office if I'm at work).

  9. #9
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Dec 2003
    Location
    Cincinnati, OH
    Posts
    189

    Re: Tasting question

    I do bourbon blind taste tests with friends, using a side-by-side technique. We use a score sheet that has the following values:

    Color - 2 points.
    Bouquet (Smell) - 3 points.
    Flavor (Taste) - 5 points.
    Finish (Aftertaste) - 5 points.

    This makes a maximum of 15 points per bourbon.

    Each taster gets a handout that indicates, or describes, the preferred bourbon attributes that should generate the maximum points within each taste test.

    I won't go into the minutia, here, but, we usually taste 5 to 8 bourbons, with water chasers between each tasting.

    Lately, we have been scoring all the bourbons for color, first. Then we score each for bouquet. Lastly, we score each bourbon for flavor and finish, together.

    This seems to work well for us. A neutral party pours the bourbons and marks them with numbers (we use playing cards for the numbers). The same number goes under each bourbon-filled glass (for each taster) and also the bottle the bourbon came from.

    Once all the scores have been tallied, we compare the numbers on the score sheets to the numbers under the bourbon bottles. This puts a bourbon brand, age and proof "face" on each set of scores.

    This is where the fun begins. We see that our favorite bourbon was not the one scored highest. Sometimes it is scored the lowest!

    The remainder of the evening is spent discussing the results and finishing the bourbon.

    Tough life, but, someone's got to do it!

  10. #10
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Jun 2004
    Location
    Seattle, USA
    Posts
    239

    Re: Tasting question

    Dhooch -

    I'm curious -- How do you rate the color?
    I've tasted good bourbons in many different shades.

    Is it by how dark it is? Degree of brown/red? Or just a personal preference for the appearance of the liquid?

 

 

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