I'm currently a barkeep at a resort in Central PA (not far from where Michter's old distillery used to be), and have been a bourbon enthusiast for a while.
I started out with the usual Jim Beam and Jack Daniel's (although I know now that Jack isn't a bourbon). I believe it was Knob Creek, however, that first piqued my interest in bourbon whiskey.
I've owned, or drank large quantities of, the following bourbons:
- The Jim Beam Small Batch Collection (my fave is Basil Hayden's)
- Maker's Mark (no surprise there...)
- Old Grand-dad 86 and 114
- Ezra Brooks (currently considering the Single Barrel)
- Elijah Craig 12-year (also considering the Single Barrel)
- Evan Williams (also, also considering the Single Barrel... but can't freakin' find it!)
- Russell's Reserve 10-year
- Bulleit 6-year (heard a lot of people don't like this, but I do)
- W.L. Weller 7-year (107 proof)
- Woodford Reserve (never owned it, but my bar does!)
- Though it's not a bourbon, I do like the spiciness and overall "woodiness" in my Sazerac Rye 6-year
My favorite "cheap" bourbon is actually a mixture of two that I call the "Crazy 88"- one part Ezra, one part Evan, usually served neat with a glass of Pepsi on the side to wash it down.
Anyway, the main point of this post is a question regarding tasting-- I find that I do not have a very sharp palate. I'm reading these reviews of whiskeys and I see all these nifty little subtleties that the taster is getting that I can't seem to find.
I'm not completely hopeless-- I've noticed that my W.L. Weller had a sweeter, "rounder" (for lack of a better descriptor) body and flavor profile; I've been able to pick up a "peppery" flavor in anything with a high rye content; I could swear I tasted Cedar in the Russell's Reserve...
In essence, I seem to be able to pick up the general characteristics, mostly regarding body and texture, but the little specific subtleties seem to escape me completely. Is there a way I can "train" my palate to pick these up? Or does it just come with practice (hopefully before liver cirrhosis kicks in)?
I've picked up 3 of the 5 whiskeys included in Sazerac's "Antique Collection", but I'm very hesitant to crack them open if my palate isn't developed enough to fully-appreciate them, hence my question.
Well, here's what I have in my cabinet right now:
- Aberlour 10-year Speyside Scotch Whisky (my "other" beverage passion)
- Svedka Clementine vodka (for my girlfriend's Cosmopolitans)
- Gran Gala triple orange liqeur (also for her Cosmos)
- William Larue Weller, 129.9 proof
- Thomas H. Handy, 132.7 proof
- Eagle Rare 17-year
I'm hoping to pick up the following before summer:
- George T. Stagg
- Sazerac 18-year
- Blanton's (do the bottle stoppers still feature different letters spelling out the name?)
- Elmer T. Lee
- Ridgemont Reserve 1792
I'd like to thank in advance everyone who has some valuable advice to offer. I'll probably visit this board just about every day.