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  1. #1
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    variability (inconsistencies?) between bottles

    I've noticed recently that a few bourbons I've had before taste different to me now after buying new bottles of them.

    Eagle Rare SB 10 Year has been my long running favorite, but the most recent bottle I bought was good...not excellent like the previous few bottles I've gone through. In this case, I know there will be some variability among bottlings of a single barrel product, so it didn't come as such of a shock, but it is still a little disappointing to have a bottle that just doesn't seem to live up to the others I've had.

    I had a similar experience with a non-single barrel product (at least i think so - there is no mention on the bottle), Buffalo Trace. There first bottle I tried about 8 months ago seemed must less smokey than the newest bottle I got. The new bottle is actually so smokey/ashy to me that I don't really care for it, but I remember liking the previous bottle. Have my tastes changed that much in 8 months? Or are the bottle bottles really that much different?

    The other whiskey I've run into this with really screams product inconsistency to me and no just variability. I really enjoy the first 2 bottles of Michter's Unblended American Whiskey that I had. Lots of vanilla and caramel flavor and a very low amount of wood - a nice change of pace from bourbon. To me, the flavors tasted "natural", and nothing was cloying to me. The newest bottle I bought tastes very artificial in comparison, like they've been adding flavoring all along and for some reason in this batch, it just didnt mingle well with the whiskey. Since the issue with Michter's is that no one seems to know who distill's thier stuff, I have my suspicions about something being added to this particular whiskey.

    Have any of you run into similar situations with a certain whiskey you like - you get a bottle that just doesn't match up to the last few you had?

  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    This topic has been discussed quite a bit here.

    In a nutshell, bourbon is partly at least a natural product (produce of grains, yeast fermentation, wood aging). Therefore it tends to vary barrel to barrel. Even creating large batches and using careful quality control methods, some taste differences inevitably will occur over time, either from batch to batch or even amongst bottles of a given batch (for various reasons). A single barrel bourbon by definition will vary somewhat since what goes into each barrel, and each barrel itself, and where and how it is stored, are never 100% identical.

    Some distilleries seem to attain a high level of consistency even in single barrel products: Buffalo Trace is one. It makes Eagle Rare and based on your comments it appears some variation exists between bottlings of that brand but again this is inevitable and for many bourbon fans hardly undesirable.

    Michter's is distributed by a smaller company which obtains the whiskey from the bulk market. So it has smaller runs and again there will be some variation. I like all the Michter's products and view the variations that occur as the mark of a crafted product.

    Gary

  3. #3
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    The most variable bourbon I've ever tasted has been Elijah Craig. I've had some bottles that were absolutely divine and others that were barely drinkable (actually undrinkable straight). Others have noticed this too. Since this bourbon is, I believe, made in large batches, I don't know if the whole batch is off sometimes or just a bottle kind of thing. For whatever reason, it can and sometimes does change drastically.
    Joe
    Colonel Joseph B. "Bourbon Joe" Koch

    "Bourbon.....It's cheaper than therapy!!"

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006
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    No, Its You

    I taste the same bottle and it tastes different on different days.
    Its more likely you're tastes have changed.

    BTW: I think batches change too, but I can't prove it.
    Colonel Ed
    Bourbonian of the Year 2006

    Comissioned by Paul Patton, 1999

    "It ain't the booze that brings me in here, it's the solace it distills"

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by pepcycle
    I taste the same bottle and it tastes different on different days.
    Its more likely you're tastes have changed.

    BTW: I think batches change too, but I can't prove it.
    I think you are exactly right Mr. Ed, I get frustrated at times when something doesn't taste as good as I remember then a couple weeks later it tastes great again.

    There is a term I have heard called geographic tongue, not sure if it is true or not but supposedly people with this condition taste things differently at different times. It is rare so I doubt that is the cause, but I know some days certain bourbons just don't taste the way they did previously...
    C

    "everybody defamates from miles away
    but face to face
    they haven't got a thing to say"

  6. #6
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    Thanks for the replies.

    Interesting, some of you seem to think it's a variability issue in the bourbon, others think its in the taster.

    Either way I see I'm not the only one who has noticed this, regardless of the exact reason.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by pepcycle
    Its more likely you're tastes have changed.
    I don't think so in this case Ed. Were talking bottle profiles here. One entire bottle tastes really great EVERY time and another bottle tastes awful EVERY time. Time span of several weeks in each case.
    Joe
    Colonel Joseph B. "Bourbon Joe" Koch

    "Bourbon.....It's cheaper than therapy!!"

  8. #8
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
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    Interesting debate.

    I tend to favor the side that detects differences in different bottlings. When you have tasted with other experienced tasters, as I have, three bottles of EC 18 year old side by side, and each is evidently (although not grossly) different from the others, you tend to side with the "variability" school.

    Gary

  9. #9
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    Quote Originally Posted by BourbonJoe
    I don't think so in this case Ed. Were talking bottle profiles here. One entire bottle tastes really great EVERY time and another bottle tastes awful EVERY time. Time span of several weeks in each case.
    Joe
    That's exactly what I'm talking about. Although the other bottle may not necessarily taste awful, but there is a noticable difference for me in some of the different bottles.
    Last edited by alphaiii; 04-18-2006 at 18:56.

  10. #10
    I vote BOTH.
    There are many bottles that are very fine from first sip to last drop, then another bottle of the same label is plainly not as good. Batch/bottle difference.
    But, it's also not at all uncommon that a night comes along when nothing I have open tastes good to me, though I'd been enjoying them repeatedly prior. Maybe it's something I ate or drank previously, maybe it's an unidentified ailment, maybe it's just palate fatigue. Just as plainly as the aforementioned circumstance, the difference is in me.
    As there is a plain measure of serendipity to the barreling, aging and marrying of whiskey(s), there is a similar felicity to be found in the combination of whiskey, circumstance, environment and company that changes each experience.
    By the way, part of the joy of the soon-to-arrive Sampler gathering is the anticipation of the abundance of both serendipity and felicity .
    Tim

 

 

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