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  1. #1
    Taster
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    Sep 2001
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    Indiana
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    85

    Bourbon Comparison – Quality, Taste and Cost

    There have been several threads posted in the last year that identified what each of us thought were bourbons that we believed carried the traits of high quality, great taste, and were reasonably priced. It has been interesting reading all the diverse opinions. While one person may love a specific bourbon, the next person would prefer something altogether different. Cost also is a relative concept. The definition of a “reasonable cost” is significantly different for an every day pour than it is compared with a “super-premium” selection. Many of the readers of this forum do not seem to mind to pay extra if they feel the bourbon is worth it. These discussions interest me in the sense of trying to figure out at what point does one feel the more expensive bourbon is worth the additional cost. I understand that this is subjective, but anyway I tried to look at my own experiences analytically. So I spent a couple of hours last Sunday reviewing twenty-five bourbons that I had sampled in the last year. I then rated each of the bourbons based on quality/taste and cost. I then created a value rating that combined both of these factors with the quality/taste ranking being weighted higher than the cost rating. Jim Beam Black was found to have the best quality/cost value rating of the bourbons I sampled. Now this does not mean it was the very highest high quality bourbon in my sample. I actually had eight bourbons ranked higher and five other bourbons with the same ranking. However, when you combined its high quality/taste ranking of 94 with its relatively low cost ranking of 97.3 it was the best value of the twenty-five bourbons in my sample. What does this mean? Not much. It was just some fun on a Sunday afternoon. My results are below.



    Bourbon Comparison - Quality, Taste and Cost
    Updated March 17, 2002


    ………………...…...…………….cost
    ………………...……...…………..per…..taste….cost….value
    …………………...…...………….drink…rating...rating..rating

    Jim Beam Black……...……..$0.72….94……97.3….95.3
    George Dickel #12…..……..$0.83….94……96.9….95.1
    Wild Turkey 101…….…….….$0.95….94……96.4….95.0
    Maker's Mark…………..….…..$0.96….94……96.4….94.9
    Wild Turkey Rare Breed…….$1.81….96……93.2….94.9
    OR Van Winkle 10 yr…….…..$1.51…95……94.3….94.7
    Old Charter Proprietor's.......$2.31…97……91.3….94.7
    WT Kentucky Spirit………... .$2.48….97……90.6….94.5
    Blanton's Single-Barrel…….…$3.09…97……88.3….93.5
    Elmer T. Lee S-B............…...$1.54…93……94.2….93.5
    Knob Creek……………...….…....$1.19…92……95.5….93.4
    Elijah Craig S-B 18 yr………..$2.17….94……91.8….93.1
    Booker's Bourbon…….………..$2.85…95……89.3…..92.7
    Jefferson's Reserve…….…..…$3.26….96……87.7….92.7
    Elijah Craig 12 yr…………...…$0.91….90……96.6….92.6
    Buffalo Trace………….……......$1.22….90……95.4….92.2
    Jim Beam White…….………....$0.53…88……98.0….92.0
    Woodford Reserve…………...…$1.78…90……93.3….91.3
    Pappy Van Winkle FR.……..….$5.93…99……77.6….90.4
    Baker's Bourbon……………......$2.30…89……91.3….89.9
    Evan Williams S-B '90......…$1.35…85……94.9….89.0
    Evan Williams….....………….…$0.47…81……98.2…..87.9
    Old Forester 100…....…………..$0.89…81……96.6….87.3
    Jack Daniels Old No. 7 ..…….$1.15….80……95.7….86.3
    Basil Hayden's……………....…..$2.08…82……92.2….86.1


    index:
    cost per drink: cost of one shot (1.5 oz; 44.5 ml)
    taste rating: ratings based on scale 1-100
    cost rating: ratings based on scale 1-100
    value rating: ratings based on scale 1-100 (best value)



  2. #2
    **DONOTDELETE**
    Guest

    Re: Bourbon Comparison - Quality, Taste and Cost

    That's pretty interesting Todd. Did you use your own taste ratings or did you use another source?

    Linn Spencer

    Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

  3. #3
    Taster
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Indiana
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    Re: Bourbon Comparison - Quality, Taste and Cost

    Linn,

    The scale and starting point for arriving at my quality/taste rating was a book by Gary and Mardee Regan called “The Bourbon Companion”. It was one of the first books on the subject that I had read once I had acquired my interest in bourbon. I initially used it as a kind of hit list on what bourbons to try. I would highly recommend this excellent book as a knowledgble reference to most of the major brands of bourbon and Tennessee whiskeys. I say a starting point since I adjusted most of their rating based on my personal preferences. I believe of the twenty-five bourbons in my sample only two ended up with the same rating. I also considered other resources that I had read recently such as Jim Murray’s “The Complete Guide to Whiskey“ and of course information that can be found right here at on straightbourbon.com. In my sample my top ranked bourbon in this category at 99 was Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve while the bourbon with the lowest ranking at 80 was Jack Daniels #7 (Black Label). Note, however, that in my opinion all of the bourbons in my sample are decent bourbons. I mean Jack Daniels is definitely not my favorite but it still very drinkable. I really haven’t spent time trying to evaluate the bottom shelf stuff.

    My cost rating was much more objective. I used Jim Beam White as my baseline cost. Each bourbon’s cost ranking was based on its cost compared with Jim Beam White. It had the highest cost ranking at 98 while the bourbon with my highest taste ranking, Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve, also had the lowest cost ranking of 77.6 due to its cost of $100 a bottle.

    My value rating was an attempt to take into consideration each bourbon’s quality, taste and cost. It combined the two rankings with the quality/taste ranking being weighed 60%-40% with the cost ranking.

    I know it’s a bit much but I work with numbers all day so sometimes I tend to want to quantify other things in my life. Now when can I start my next sample?

    Todd



  4. #4
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon, USA
    Posts
    140

    Re: Bourbon Comparison - Quality, Taste and Cost

    1) While the breadth and depth of their knowledge of bourbon is impressive, the Regans would rank somewhere below my cats on the list of beings whose palates I would trust with opinions of bourbon; their tasting notes on and relatively low opinion of the Old Foresters being but one example of what I mean.

    2) You say you haven't spent time getting to know the bottom shelf stuff. This is a mistake. Some good to excellent bourbons wind up at or near the bottom shelf, including Kentucky Tavern, Very Old Barton, Bourbon DeLuxe and Four Roses Yellow Label.

    Stotz


  5. #5
    **DONOTDELETE**
    Guest

    Re: Bourbon Comparison - Quality, Taste and Cost

    Way to go Todd! I'm glad you used your own judgement to adjust the ratings and not just blindly plugging in someone elses numbers. I would suggest getting as many ratings for each bouron as you can find and average them together and then weigh that against your opinion.

    I use the price per pants method. If a four pants bourbon costs forty bucks then that's only ten smackers per pair of pants. That's quite a bargin. There are many three pants bourbons at fifteen dollars or less. A nice pair of pants for a fiver. Now how can you beat that?

    I will encourage you to start your next sample right away. Compare all single barrel bourbons using your method. I'm looking forward to viewing your data.

    Damn Todd you make science fun!

    Pants Away!

    Linn Spencer

    Have Shotglass. Will Travel.

  6. #6
    Taster
    Join Date
    Sep 2001
    Location
    Indiana
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    Re: Bourbon Comparison - Quality, Taste and Cost

    Well I guess I would fall back on something of heard Linn say several times before that there really isn’t a right or wrong answer when it comes to bourbon. A good bourbon is one that you enjoy. Some bourbons you are going to like more than others and a bourbon you think is great someone else may think it is a waste of money.

    There are so many brands out there you obviously cannot try them all. It is fun when you do find a new one you enjoy. This is where reading different opinions on this forum or a reference like Regan’s book has been helpful if you are deciding to try a new bourbon. You have a little more to go than what the bottle looks like. But, after you buy it the only important points are do you like it or not and do you think it was worth what you paid for it.

    Todd



  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2002 and Guru
    Join Date
    Sep 1999
    Location
    Chicago
    Posts
    12,616

    Don\'t Tell Me I Can\'t Try Them All.

    Forbes wrote: "There are so many brands out there you obviously cannot try them all."

    Hey, hey, don't trash my life's mission like that. I believe I can try them all and I believe I will try them all. Some members of this forum are proud of their bourbon collections. I'm proud of my collection of empty bottles.

    <A target="_blank" HREF=http://cowdery.home.netcom.com>--Chuck Cowdery</A>

  8. #8
    Taster
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    Sep 2001
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    Indiana
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    Re: Don\'t Tell Me I Can\'t Try Them All.

    Chuck,

    I stand corrected.

    Todd


  9. #9
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Nov 1999
    Location
    Eugene, Oregon, USA
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    140

    Re: Bourbon Comparison - Quality, Taste and Cost

    I don't buy that there are no right or wrong answers when it comes to bourbon, or that a good bourbon is one that you enjoy. There are established desirable flavors for bourbon (and Scotch and Canadian and any other kind of whisk(e)y one could name) as well as established flavors that indicate anything from use of lesser ingredients/barrels/portion of the cut up to something going wrong somewhere in the distilling process. For instance, there are bourbons out there that exhibit some nasty fusel oil aromas and flavors, indicating, objectively, that those are not good bourbons, regardless of whether someone likes it. In addition, distillers consciously create different quality levels of bourbons, and will admit -- though perhaps not readily or publicly -- that some are created to be better than others. This kind of "all bourbons are good if somebody likes them" Barneyism is not only inaccurate, it stifles discussion leading to deeper understanding of the finer points of bourbon.

    And as for not being able to try all brands of bourbon, well, that sounds like a dare to me. I think I've had about every bourbon out there right now, but I'd love to be proven wrong.

    Stotz


  10. #10
    Advanced Taster
    Join Date
    Feb 2002
    Location
    Japan
    Posts
    105

    Re: Don\'t Tell Me I Can\'t Try Them All.

    Same with me here far away from Kentucky.
    I wish I can try all still selling brands,and if lucky enough try some brands that have already vanished.I too is proud of my collection of empty bottles and jugs,the problem is storage.
    Here is a list at my bar,http://www.salscafe.com/menu.html
    If anybody ever comes nearby your always welcome!
    I still hope I can save enough and go to the Festible this year with some Japan sold only bottles for the drinkers here.

    koji


 

 

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