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My Question is Does All This Stuff All Taste the Same

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TakaKai

My Question Is Does All This Stuff All Taste the Same? Subquestion can I tell my favorites apart.


TL;DR, nope they don't all taste the same. I'm not nearly experienced enough to be able to correctly name each one in a blind test, but the taste difference is very distinctive. This was a very small selection but it's the whiskey and bourbon that I drink and I like.

 

So I Set out to do a little taste test. I got four little apertief glasses, and put about 1 ounce in each of them.

 

My first test was Bulliet 10 Year, George Dickel, Mellow Corn, and 1792. The George Dickel was too easy to pick out, so it was eliminated. I do like George Dickel but it does have a very distinctive taste. So it was replaced with a sample of regular Bulliet. The George Dickel got set aside and consumed after the test.

 

The colors of my four taste samples were very similar except for the Bulliet 10 year, it was slightly darker than all the rest. The Mellow Corn was also fairly easy to pick out as it's one of my favorites and I feel like the taste is quite distinctive. The Mellow Corn got set aside.

 

Next was the Bullet, the distinctiveness of the Bullet is that it's a little bit smoother than the rest of these, not that it has less taste, just a little smoother. It's also one of my very favorites.

 

Some now I'm left with Bulliet 10 year and 1792. The Bulliet 10 year is robust it has a lot of nice flavors in it. The 1792 is even more robust, lots of good flavors, and it does have more of an alcohol taste. The 1792 also leaves the sides of my tongue in the back of my mouth with a little bit of a flavor that's very hard to describe it's a little bit sharp, and there's definitely more of an alcohol taste in that part of my  mouth. It is a tiny bit like the taste of rubbing alcohol, no I don't drink rubbing alcohol but I I have tasted it, mostly accidentally. The 1792 taste is not unpleasant but there is that taste that is just a hint of rubbing alcohol.

 

So I continued with my quest to get this  tasting thoroughly explained for you, it was a sacrifice, and I most willing to do it. 

 

I had poured a little less of the regular  Bulliet so I'm left with Bullet 10 year and little some Mellow Corn. As Bulliet 10 year hits the top of my mouth it has this ethereal flavor of caramel, vanilla, nougat, and little bit of Christmas. Grandma made the greatest white nougat Christmas cookie/candy and I've never tasted anything like that again. This had a hint of that taste. It's also what I described as sharp, to be more accurate I guess that is a little bit more of the ethanol taste. 

 

I still have a little bit of the Bulliet 10 year and Mellow Corn in my apertief glasses. It's easy to tell these apart of course. But it's also fun to compare them side-by-side. Mellow corn is a little bit smoother and even though it has a higher proof it doesn't have near the alcohol taste of any of the other samples.

 

I do want to taste test Mellow Corn against Regular Bulliet though because regular Bulliet is one of my favorites and I consider it one of the smoothest. Again it's a sacrifice but I'm willing to do it for you, just not today.

 

It's fairly easy to tell the regular Bulliet from the Bulliet 10 year, as I mentioned the 10 year is more robust and a slight bit sharper.

 

So my conclusion is in the TL;DR, above (TL;DR too long didn't read). I felt this was a very worthwhile experiment and it did answer a question that I had been thinking about.

 

Caveat: people taste things differently, and whiskey/bourbon is certainly no exception. Some people love Makers Mark, to me it's undrinkable. Also, I haven't really been drinking whiskey/bourbon long enough to have anything except a newbie/rookie opinion about all this. I did have this question, I'm glad I answered it and I did want to share with you.

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Cornmuse

Great post and a solid question. Yes, this is a game of subtlety.  That's one reason I've broken away from label chasing.  In a blind tasting I'd guess that 1 in 10 of the people who pay for Pappy could actually pick it out from Eagle Rare or BT.  It's a bling thing...

 

That said, blind tasting is an incredible learning experience.  I do this quite often.  There are two methods I'll share that you can use. The first is the more educational.

 

Blind tasing  game 1

 

Take two bourbons that are somewhat similar... say WT101 and Knob Creek 100pf.  Have someone pour a measured .5 oz of each into two clean glasses (I like glencairns).  The pour a third glass of one of those two. They should be served as A, B and Reference.  The game is to pick which one is like the reference.  This is a solid method of learning to taste without the weight and responsibility of saying which is better.  You aren't evaluating which is better, only which is the same as the reference.  You'll be surprised how hard this is with similar whiskies.  It will teach you to taste carefully.  Getting it right 60% of the time is more challenging than it sounds.

 

Blind tasting game 2

 

More complex.  Never use more than three.  Start with three test subjects and taste them all.  Write down your opinions and impressions.  The wait a few hours or until the next day.  Then have the three served as A, B and C.  Now taste and evaluate and see which you like best - don't really try to identify which is which, just taste and see what impressions come up.  To make it tougher you can do this without the "sighted" tasting first.

 

You can  learn a lot about yourself with these approaches.  Here is my example: https://bourbonsippers.com/three-affordable-single-barrel-bourbons-you-should-try/

 

Cheers!

 

Joe C.

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BrokeCal

Hey its all bourbon aged 4 years or older.  As long as the proof is relatively equal it is never going to be easy to pick out which bourbon is which in a blind tasting!

 

I'm with Cornmuze, in fact I'll go further, I guarantee that all of these newbs lusting over Pappy or any of the BTAC would fail miserably in a blind testing with bourbons of similar proof.  As that guy on Facebook says, you think you know, but you don't.

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TakaKai

Mr. @Cornmuse excellent writing, a most enjoyable article both your writing style and your content. (Been in the news biz for 40 years and before that it was my major at University). The explanation you gave above and in your article sounds like a great deal of fun and educational too. My wife will love it. We’re going to do something similar with her favorite Chardonnays. I am all in on learning more about good tasting Bourbon. My adult son is responsible for this, that gets me off the hook with my wife, a very little bit, he’s her favorite. Will be getting some Glencairn glasses soon. You expressed that you were hung fun in your article nd that’s what I am going to shoot for. Thanks for the article and your comment above. Much obliged.

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TakaKai

@BrokeCal I’m with you, and yep it was not easy. It was a delightful experience, both the tasting and the guessing. Orange County, my wife grew up in Anaheim a mile from Disneyland while it was being built. Her brother lives in Laguna Beach. Thanks for your comment.

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Flyfish

The great virtue of blind tasting is that you soon discover that just because it costs more doesn't mean it tastes better. Sometimes it does. Premium bourbons are usually premium for a reason. But between $20 and $40 you might very well discover that you could have two bottles of something that tastes just as good to you as one bottle of the other. There are quite a few of us on this site who are quite willing to settle for OGD BIB or WT101 instead of .......

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lcpfratn
Great post and a solid question. Yes, this is a game of subtlety.  That's one reason I've broken away from label chasing.  In a blind tasting I'd guess that 1 in 10 of the people who pay for Pappy could actually pick it out from Eagle Rare or BT.  It's a bling thing...
 
That said, blind tasting is an incredible learning experience.  I do this quite often.  There are two methods I'll share that you can use. The first is the more educational.
 
Blind tasing  game 1
 
Take two bourbons that are somewhat similar... say WT101 and Knob Creek 100pf.  Have someone pour a measured .5 oz of each into two clean glasses (I like glencairns).  The pour a third glass of one of those two. They should be served as A, B and Reference.  The game is to pick which one is like the reference.  This is a solid method of learning to taste without the weight and responsibility of saying which is better.  You aren't evaluating which is better, only which is the same as the reference.  You'll be surprised how hard this is with similar whiskies.  It will teach you to taste carefully.  Getting it right 60% of the time is more challenging than it sounds.
 
Blind tasting game 2
 
More complex.  Never use more than three.  Start with three test subjects and taste them all.  Write down your opinions and impressions.  The wait a few hours or until the next day.  Then have the three served as A, B and C.  Now taste and evaluate and see which you like best - don't really try to identify which is which, just taste and see what impressions come up.  To make it tougher you can do this without the "sighted" tasting first.
 
You can  learn a lot about yourself with these approaches.  Here is my example: https://bourbonsippers.com/three-affordable-single-barrel-bourbons-you-should-try/
 
Cheers!
 
Joe C.

Great post, and really liked your article on blind tasting!
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fishnbowljoe

It takes a bit of practice to start discerning even a few of the flavors that can be found in bourbon. And we all know that practice makes perfect. So practice, practice, practice! :P

 

Biba! Joe

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Postal Grunt
2 hours ago, fishnbowljoe said:

It takes a bit of practice to start discerning even a few of the flavors that can be found in bourbon. And we all know that practice makes perfect. So practice, practice, practice! :P

 

Biba! Joe

Is too often ever enough?

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AndyD

I can pick four roses out of nearly any lineup.  IMO it’s taste and finish is the most distinct of all bourbon.

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Richnimrod
7 hours ago, Postal Grunt said:

Is too often ever enough?

Hmmmm.  A valid question.   ...About which one must endeavor to constantly make experimental trials in order to perfect an answer that can be trusted in all cases.   For me; so far, such answer remains elusive.

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fishnbowljoe

Here’s something else I thought I’d share. This one is about the “nose”, and not the flavor per say. When I first got into bourbon, I had a hard time picking out smells and flavors. I could pick out things, especially on the nose, but couldn’t quite put a name to them. Fortunately for me, my wife is a helluva cook/baker, and has a remarkable sense of smell. Even though she doesn’t drink, she can pick out smells in a bourbon that escape me. If you’re married or have a significant other, don’t be opposed to asking for a little help when you open and try something new. You might just be surprised.

 

Biba! Joe 

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mal00768
20 minutes ago, fishnbowljoe said:

Here’s something else I thought I’d share. This one is about the “nose”, and not the flavor per say. When I first got into bourbon, I had a hard time picking out smells and flavors. I could pick out things, especially on the nose, but couldn’t quite put a name to them. Fortunately for me, my wife is a helluva cook/baker, and has a remarkable sense of smell. Even though she doesn’t drink, she can pick out smells in a bourbon that escape me. If you’re married or have a significant other, don’t be opposed to asking for a little help when you open and try something new. You might just be surprised.

 

Biba! Joe 

I’ve done this so often that now I get the standard wife eye roll every time. But it’s okay cause she still takes a whiff. 

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fishnbowljoe
1 minute ago, mal00768 said:

I’ve done this so often that now I get the standard wife eye roll every time. But it’s okay cause she still takes a whiff. 

I’m pretty familiar with that very same wife eye roll mal. :lol:

 

Biba! Joe

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BrokeCal
7 hours ago, fishnbowljoe said:

Here’s something else I thought I’d share. This one is about the “nose”, and not the flavor per say. When I first got into bourbon, I had a hard time picking out smells and flavors. I could pick out things, especially on the nose, but couldn’t quite put a name to them. Fortunately for me, my wife is a helluva cook/baker, and has a remarkable sense of smell. Even though she doesn’t drink, she can pick out smells in a bourbon that escape me. If you’re married or have a significant other, don’t be opposed to asking for a little help when you open and try something new. You might just be surprised.

 

Biba! Joe 

Sounds like we have a lot in common with our wives! My wife pours me blind taste tests all the time.  She too is a great cook and baker but doesn't drink.  She smells them though and points out certain aromas that she pulls out.  She always says if Bourbon tasted as good as it smells she probably would drink it🤣.

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Kepler
On ‎2‎/‎13‎/‎2020 at 2:41 PM, Cornmuse said:

Great post

I have to admit this wasn't my first reaction.

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Flyfish
On 2/15/2020 at 11:02 AM, fishnbowljoe said:

Here’s something else I thought I’d share. This one is about the “nose”, and not the flavor per say. When I first got into bourbon, I had a hard time picking out smells and flavors. I could pick out things, especially on the nose, but couldn’t quite put a name to them. 

 

Biba! Joe 

Most disciplines have a special jargon so that the insiders can recognize each other. You may think you have had a heart attack but you never can be sure until a million dollar physician confirms that you had a myocardial infarction. Or the interior designer your wife hired recommends something called mauve--whatever the hell that is. Many of us can distinguish a hundred smells and flavors but have a devil of a time naming more than a half dozen. There should be a buzz-word generator for bourbon: pick one descriptor each, more or less at random, from columns A, B, and C. That way we could all sound erudite.

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fishnbowljoe
2 minutes ago, Flyfish said:

Most disciplines have a special jargon so that the insiders can recognize each other. You may think you have had a heart attack but you never can be sure until a million dollar physician confirms that you had a myocardial infarction. Or the interior designer your wife hired recommends something called mauve--whatever the hell that is. Many of us can distinguish a hundred smells and flavors but have a devil of a time naming more than a half dozen. There should be a buzz-word generator for bourbon: pick one descriptor each, more or less at random, from columns A, B, and C. That way we could all sound erudite.

LMFAO!  I sincerely doubt that no more true words have ever been spoken FF. It's February 17th, and so far, this is my front runner for post of the year. 👍 

 

Biba! Joe

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FacePlant
On 2/13/2020 at 5:27 PM, TakaKai said:

 You expressed that you were hung fun in your article nd that’s what I am going to shoot for. Thanks for the article and your comment above. Much obliged.

Yes hung fun is very close to hung bourbon. Our first descriptor expressed. :)  

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GaryT

Some really great posts above (and encouraging to see such thoughtful posts from new members!  Welcome!)

 

While they don't all taste the same, it can be challenging at times to try to articulate the nuanced differences.  For example - Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare are very similar, but different.  But if I tried to just list out what I smell/taste (vanilla, some caramel, some dried grass or heather, etc) - the main flavors would be the same.  Blind tasting really is the best way to go, and results can be surprising.  Years ago I found I actually preferred Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star over the 10 Year variant (which I'm in the minority on this, but that's ok!)  I poured 1/2 oz of each and didn't try to pick out which was which - just which did I like.  If I recall, 2 of 3 times I picked the 10 Star - which was instructive in that I didn't need to 'hunt' for the 10 Year (which is now discontinued anyways).  While many of us may pick up the same major elements of taste, what we find that we enjoy is very much a matter of individual taste.

 

Beyond finding what you truly enjoy, blind tasting can just be a lotta fun!  I love comparing different Four Roses Single Barrels (private selections) to see if I can pick out the mashbill and yeast.  If I know what the contenders are, I have a fighting chance :lol:  But as long as you're having fun, you're doing it right!

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Flyfish
2 hours ago, GaryT said:

 

 

While they don't all taste the same, it can be challenging at times to try to articulate the nuanced differences.  For example - Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare are very similar, but different.  But if I tried to just list out what I smell/taste (vanilla, some caramel, some dried grass or heather, etc) - the main flavors would be the same.  Blind tasting really is the best way to go, and results can be surprising. 

Good point, Gary T.  Years ago I tried keeping tasting notes. Stopped when rereading them I found that the notes were virtually all the same. Like you, I knew that BT and ER were "very similar, but different" but couldn't come up with a descriptor to name that difference. Perhaps some of you who have not given up on tasting notes can share your secret.

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GaryT
10 hours ago, Flyfish said:

Good point, Gary T.  Years ago I tried keeping tasting notes. Stopped when rereading them I found that the notes were virtually all the same. Like you, I knew that BT and ER were "very similar, but different" but couldn't come up with a descriptor to name that difference. Perhaps some of you who have not given up on tasting notes can share your secret.

I haven't given up, but I've learned that my notes on the differences sometimes only make sense to me.  Not a real life example, but close would a note on ER along the lines of "Like Buffalo Trace, but a bit more of everything - not a lot, but a bit".  I get what I mean, but a reasonable human being would be like "Dude . . . wtf".  In cases like that, the reality is they're similar, but likely one has "a bit more this, a bit less than".  When I do comparison tasting, I'll write what I got - and if that looks virtually the same as the prior pour, I'll try to focus on what I got more or less of.  

 

In the end, as long as YOU know what you mean by your notes, that's all that matters ;)  

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