Recently, I was fortunate enough to taste through a flight of barrel samples. The bourbon was Eagle Rare 10 year old. I was surprised at the differences between the samples. From medicinal, to spicy, to sweet, to just right, the taste profiles ran the gamut. Now I'm quite certain the man in charge of choosing the possible samples had a method to his madness. The order in which we were directed to taste clearly had a pattern. But the product on the shelf seems to more or less always fit the same profile. (At least in my limited experience)
The experience got me thinking about the possible differences from bottle to bottle on the shelf. And it got me thinking even more about the difficult job of choosing barrels that would represent a particular branded product. If a customer likes Eagle Rare 10 from the shelf, that second bottle he buys better be more or less representative of the first.
Just a few thoughts of mine as I enjoy a nice pour of Pure Kentucky. If anyone has insight into this process, it'd be great to read about.