As I enter what seems like the 97th day of my second or third two-week cold of the season, my normally cheery ( ) mood is about as nasty it gets. It's not that the experience is even close to being unbearable; I'm just starting to wonder whether it will ever end.

In addition to the usual symptoms, I find that I am unable to enjoy alcoholic beverages in any form (unless Robitussin DM counts). My long road to recovery has caused me to wonder what would happen, were a master distiller to be so afflicted. If his taste apparatus was out of whack for, say, two to four weeks, would barrel selection and/or dumping cease for that period of time?

The schedule impact might be even worse than that. I know that even after I pronounce myself recovered from a prolonged cold, it takes my taste a few more weeks to return to normal.

Is it possible that the common cold could interefere with production of bourbon? Or does each distillery actually have a panel of tasters-in-training who would step in during an emergency? Or is there a several month supply of pre-tasted barrels to preclude just such an emergency?

Yours truly,
Dave Morefield