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Caribou gorn
Picture of YellowJacket
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quote:
Originally posted by konata88:
Thanks - I will treat reviews with a grain of salt. Bottom line - what a reviewer indicates as good may not be shared by me. I was wondering if there was more consistency in bourbon than in wine. Wine, for example, varies even by the same vineyard, wine maker, varietal by year.

Bourbons seem relatively immune to yearly variations. But seem to have some variation in 'single barrel' bottling (which is lost on me because of sample sizes of 1).

As far as I could tell, bourbons are relatively homogenous except where you can classify as straight or rye or wheated.

So, I still don't know what's different about more expensive bottles and why they are better. But so far, each time I ask people in the stores (other customers, store workers, etc), about more expensive bottles and how I like BT, they always say just get the BT as the cost difference isn't worth it (ie - relatively homogenous). 46 is different because it was basically the same price as the BT (w/in $5 on sale).

I've started to try bourbons at bars. So far, BT still coming out ahead. Smile

The standard, blended products from long-standing distilleries do tend to be very homogenous. A bottle of Jim Beam black from 2022 would taste a lot like a bottle from 1985.

Expensive bottles generally tend to be expensive because there is less of the product. If it's a "premium" product it is usually because
A. It is aged longer so it takes more time to produce it, which naturally means there is less of it. And more evaporates over time so, again, there is less of it.
B. It is aged in a premium location. There is limited space in that location so there is naturally less of it.
C. It is higher proof or barrel strength. There is less water in it so there is naturally less of it.
D. It is a selection of the "best tasting" barrels as determined by someone who "should" know. Someone like the master distiller or people invited to taste at the distillery.

Or it could be a combination of all of those. That's why single barrels, small batch, barrel proofs, store picks, and longer aged bourbon generally cost more. It's not rocket science... there's just physically less of it.

And there are also plenty of gimmicks and stories sold to us as to why this or that bourbon should cost more. Don't bite.



I'm gonna vote for the funniest frog with the loudest croak on the highest log.
 
Posts: 9924 | Location: Marietta, GA | Registered: February 10, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of vthoky
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Had a couple of glasses of Woodford Reserve Double Oaked this evening with work friends.

Good stuff!




God bless America.
 
Posts: 11843 | Location: Hokie Nation! | Registered: July 15, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of konata88
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quote:
Originally posted by YellowJacket:
And there are also plenty of gimmicks and stories sold to us as to why this or that bourbon should cost more. Don't bite.


Thanks. Bourbons have been confusing for me Smile

To an extent, usually for wine and sake (my historical preferences), more expensive usually meant better tasting (say, for wines between $10-$100). Same with sake. Items priced higher than that were generally because of reasons other than taste.

Beer tends to be lots of variety but at relatively homogenous pricing; it's a matter of preference.

Bourbons have been confusing for me. Reviews all sound relatively the same to me, just incremental differences in one thing or another. And pricing doesn't seem tightly coupled to taste but rather some uniqueness about it.

For wine and sake, I can see myself appreciating / saying this $50 bottle tastes 2x better than this $25 bottle. Especially since there have been some bottles I'd prefer not to drink at all. People have been telling me that's not the case with bourbons.

The info above helps - for bourbons, I shouldn't necessary correlate price increase percentage with taste increase percentage. Still not sure how I should decide upon which bottle to buy (w/o pre-tasting) but it seems in the case of bourbons, don't assume taste and price are related, even in a narrow price range like $30-$70).




"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - B.Franklin
"Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it." L.Tolstoy
 
Posts: 10757 | Location: In the gilded cage | Registered: December 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Caribou gorn
Picture of YellowJacket
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by konata88:
quote:
Originally posted by YellowJacket:
And there are also plenty of gimmicks and stories sold to us as to why this or that bourbon should cost more. Don't bite.


Thanks. Bourbons have been confusing for me Smile

To an extent, usually for wine and sake (my historical preferences), more expensive usually meant better tasting (say, for wines between $10-$100). Same with sake. Items priced higher than that were generally because of reasons other than taste.

Beer tends to be lots of variety but at relatively homogenous pricing; it's a matter of preference.

Bourbons have been confusing for me. Reviews all sound relatively the same to me, just incremental differences in one thing or another. And pricing doesn't seem tightly coupled to taste but rather some uniqueness about it.

For wine and sake, I can see myself appreciating / saying this $50 bottle tastes 2x better than this $25 bottle. Especially since there have been some bottles I'd prefer not to drink at all. People have been telling me that's not the case with bourbons.

The info above helps - for bourbons, I shouldn't necessary correlate price increase percentage with taste increase percentage. Still not sure how I should decide upon which bottle to buy (w/o pre-tasting) but it seems in the case of bourbons, don't assume taste and price are related, even in a narrow price range like $30-$70).

forget what tastes "better" or "best." they just taste different.

fwiw, I've never had a $50 bottle of wine that I could say tasted "twice as good" as a $25 bottle. That doesn't really even make sense to me. Like, one I would rate a 4/10 and the other I would rate 8/10? Then what would I rate a $100 bottle?



I'm gonna vote for the funniest frog with the loudest croak on the highest log.
 
Posts: 9924 | Location: Marietta, GA | Registered: February 10, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Oh stewardess,
I speak jive.
Picture of 46and2
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by konata88:
snip...

Unfortunately... yes *and* no, sort of, sometimes. And so it goes...

Are there loose parallels to wines and wine types, such as "if I like a Cabernet from Coppola, how likely am I to like a Cabernet from Mondavi?" Sure. Loosely. As in, if you like a Straight Rye at 90proof and 4yo from Willett, will you also like a Straight Rye at 110proof and 7yo from Wild Turkey or whomever...? Sure, probably, say 60/40 odds. But maybe not, as the grain and mash are but one part of the whole equation, and proof greatly affects flavor as does how long it's in the barrels.

It's still very much up to mother nature and lots of luck, in all instances, anyway.

For example: the only way someone like Buffalo Trace (the Distillery) can keep Buffalo Trace (the bourbon) pretty consistent from batch to batch and year to year is by using a shitload of barrels selected from all over the aging warehouses, and by vatting all of those together in giant stainless steel vessels, then a team of humans (Tasting Panels, some call them) "manage" the "flavor profile" by taste and human experience, and these guys and gals (Master Distillers, usually) know "how BT is supposed to taste" and they know "which area of which warehouse tends to produce sweeter/hotter/mellower barrels", and they mix and match hundreds to thousands of gallons at once to get it to what folks know and love and recognize (more or less).

And even then, there will be subtle to less subtle differences from batch to batch.

If it's any comfort, I only know what I know from having tasted about 300 (yes, three hundred) different Whiskeys in the last 20yrs or so.

Further, the correlation between Price and Deliciousness is weak on its best day. That's right, price is generally a shitty indicator of flavor, most of the time, but in degrees of goodness/betterness. A $500 Bourbon will never suck, but it may only taste like it ought to cost $70, as compared to how good some $30 whiskey you like tastes to you... and worse, sometimes a $50 bottle IS twice as good as a $25 bottle, but often not, absolutely not-necessarily...

There are about ten expressions of whiskey that I think are the best of the best, to me. But beyond those ten (unnamed because its doesn't matter, purely subjective, but they're mostly expensive/rare ones...), I treat *all* of the rest of the world of whiskey (that I like) as "equally good regardless of price, merely different". Which is to say, I genuinely like Baby Sazerac and Buffalo Trace and Four Roses Yellow and thirty others as equally good as one anotuer despise being wholly unlike one another and varying in price by $10-50/bottle, just like I enjoy a Quesadilla as much as a Hamburger, all things considered. Good food/whiskey is good food/whiskey, period.

And let's circle back to how similar many bourbons are to one another... for instance: several Beam bourbons are the exact same juice, merely bottled at different ages and proofs and from different corners of the aging warehouses, but they all went into the various barrels all over the warehouses as the exact same...

Just 1-x more years in the barrels changes everything, sort of.

No easy answer, unfortunately. Hope this is helpful, still.
 
Posts: 25612 | Registered: March 12, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Oh stewardess,
I speak jive.
Picture of 46and2
posted Hide Post
To me, for another example, Baby Saz and Elmer T Lee and all Wheaters are sort of "sweeter" and "smoother" in broad strokes, and get grouped together accordingly in my mind, despite they being very different on paper... Wheaters are wheaters, Baby Saz is a Rye, and Elmer is a rye'd Bourbon, things you wouldn't normally group together or expect much similarities between. But there's a common thread, I think.

Also, many High Rye bourbons are similar enough to get grouped together despite vast differences in price, age, proof, and so on. Bulleit and Knob Creek, for example, and Old Grand Dad 114, all High Rye content, all sort of similar, yet not.

And sort of frustratingly and counterintuitively, Baby Saz (Rye) tastes nothing much like the Willett Ryes which tastes nothing like Van Winkle Rye which tastes nothing like Wild Turkey Rye, at all, different colors, different ages, different distilleries, different flavor profiles, all Ryes, but quite different tasting.

Sometimes you come to trust the people. I trust Willett, for instance, a small specialty distiller and bottler, and like Ryes in general, so I will buy/try a new to me Willett expression with no hesitation, and I haven't been let down yet. Same with Van Winkle, I'd try most anything they put their name on.

No easy answer short of Buy Them All and Try Them All.
 
Posts: 25612 | Registered: March 12, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Oh stewardess,
I speak jive.
Picture of 46and2
posted Hide Post
Further, forgive my long windedness - sitting outside and have the time today:

I wholly avoid any and all gimmicky expressions, double cask this, such and such staves that, aged on a boat or in a cave, rebarreled in a wine barrel, and all of the other variations of shit cooked up by some jackass in the Marketing dept, typically.

If the whiskey was good enough, it (generally) wouldn't need any of those things.

Makers 46 only even exists because they can't make and age enough regular Makers Mark fast enough to meet their financial goals, so some yahoo decided to take younger, inferior, not yet Makers Mark whiskey from the Makers Mark aging warehouses and add some other shit to it (extra staves) to spice up the blander, younger, whiskey that wasn't good enough / ready to be regular Maker's Mark.

It's not bad, Makers 46, in that Jim Beam white isn't bad, just young and disinteresting, it's just some made up bullshit that never needed to exist anyway and isn't aimed at experienced whiskey lovers, it's aimed at those who don't know better. (Not making fun of you for having bought it. I've bought it, too.)

Putting handmade "burger sauce" on a McDonald's burger doesn't change its inherient nature as a McDonald's burger you just paid a premium for. That's what most special editions are, some clever bullshit to sell less good whiskey for better prices.

Same with "mystery whiskey", any whiskey whose actual Distillery origin and mash is unknown. Noah's Mill rightfully raises such suspicions, as there ain't no Noah and there ain't no Mill, it's purely bullshit labeling, a made up story, but... in this case Noah's Mill is actually good and from trusted people (Willett). So be very suspicious of any whiskey whose name and story sounds like some hillbilly bullshit or clever marketing, it's usually (but not always) to hide inferior whiskey.
 
Posts: 25612 | Registered: March 12, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of konata88
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Thanks guys. I have a better feeling for what to expect from bourbons now. Preference is key and you only know by trying. Statements of 'good' are less relevant than what it tastes like. It's all (mostly) good, just different.

I'm going to ask for my bottle of Larceny back. I want to compare BT w/ the Larceny in more detail. The anticipation was that I was going to like Larceny because it's a wheater and more expensive than the BT. I tend to like the smoother, sweeter types of alcohols (like sake, I prefer the sweeter over the dryer). Yet I strongly prefer the BT over the Larceny. But I can't pinpoint why. I want to compare both in detail so that I understand exactly why BT is better for me. That will help me determine what to buy next. Differences, not price.

I saw the Noah and someone at the store said it was 'hot' and that if I liked milder like BT, suggested the 46. I got the 46 based on recommendation - not even sure how it's different from regular Maker's.




"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - B.Franklin
"Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it." L.Tolstoy
 
Posts: 10757 | Location: In the gilded cage | Registered: December 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
No, not like
Bill Clinton
Picture of BigSwede
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Excellent reading 46and2


*********************
“I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.”
 
Posts: 4238 | Location: GA | Registered: September 23, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of konata88
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I wish all the bourbons were available in those litter taster bottles you get in hotel rooms. That would make selection process easier. Smile




"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - B.Franklin
"Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it." L.Tolstoy
 
Posts: 10757 | Location: In the gilded cage | Registered: December 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
No, not like
Bill Clinton
Picture of BigSwede
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Just find a mixer you like and use the ones that don't do it for you, I'm fond of a Manhattan and an occasional bourbon/whiskey and coke

Some brands you can find in the 375ml size, look behind the counter or there should be a section for them


*********************
“I owe my success to having listened respectfully to the very best advice, and then going away and doing the exact opposite.”
 
Posts: 4238 | Location: GA | Registered: September 23, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Oh stewardess,
I speak jive.
Picture of 46and2
posted Hide Post
(had to google the Larceny details to remember, but...)

I don't find it surprising that you prefer BT to Larceny. I'd venture to guess 80% of Bourbon fans would agree, which isn't so much a mark against Larceny as it is praise for what BT is... BT is immensely popular, vastly more than Larceny, and from a more popular distillery known for even more premium expressions, and this carries weight. Buffalo Trace (the Distillery) are amongst/tied for best in class, generally, one of the biggest, oldest, most successful places Bourbon comes from, and almost every damn thing they make is good to great, so Larceny has its work cut out for it before even tasting the Larceny.

Further, Larceny comes from Heaven Hill (Distillery) and is an offshoot of their Old Fitzgerald line. While Heaven Hill is no slouch, Distillery wise, they're no Buffalo Trace either, and their focus is largely on low to mid shelf products. Now, Larceny itself is NOT a low shelf whiskey, and other popular HH expressions are also good (Evan Williams Single Barrel, Elijah Craig barrel proof, Henry McKenna BiB), but there's a tiny hint of offbrand-ness in HH Bourbons, imo, even the ones I like.

For example, I genuinely like Elijah Craig barrel proof, a lot. Period.

But it's also true that I do actually like most of the ones I like from Buffalo Trace the distillery even better than what I like from Heaven Hill. It may be a slight edge, but it's still there. So I mostly ignore these things and just treat them as "i like it, or I don't", and once I like a given expression I quit comparing it against the others, else it's just never ending, this vs that, when direct comparisons are very difficult, too many factors. Liie Coke vs Pepsi vs RC.

Hell, part of what makes Buffalo Trace the Distillery amongst the best is how the sun and wind and humidity are on that specific property and in those specific warehouses, one corner gets a better breeze in the spring, shit like that... it's wild how it matters, but apparently it does.

Elmer T Lee (the bourbon) are just hand selected barrels that Elmer T Lee (a Master Distiller at BT) used to select himself before he retired and passed it onto another Master Distiller, and Elmer T Lee the Bourbon is "just" Blantons barrels that are particularly sweet and taste a certain way that Elmer the man liked and BT the Distillery honored with an expression/product of his barrel hunting in the warehouses... that's how most of it works, subtle differences, caught by humans.

As similar as it all is, really, it's amazing there's as much variety as there is.

It's just flavored water, distilled grains, time, temperature, humidity, burned wood... same handful of ingredients. Even a few extra % of Rye in a Mash makes a big difference.

Tito's (corn vodka) tastes different from Chopin (potato vodka) which tastes different from Stolichnaya (rye vodka), and all barely have any flavor at all.
 
Posts: 25612 | Registered: March 12, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of konata88
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Interesting! So perhaps what influences me here is the 'appellation' (the sun and wind and humidity are on that specific property and in those specific warehouses, one corner gets a better breeze in the spring, etc) of BT - similar appellations and mash may result in bourbons to my preferences as well.

I'm going find a quiet place, take a bottle of BT, and drink and capture what I really like about it. But sounds like while I'm learning about bourbons, I can't really go wrong sticking to anything from BT distillery.




"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - B.Franklin
"Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it." L.Tolstoy
 
Posts: 10757 | Location: In the gilded cage | Registered: December 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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K88 - sometimes we get caught up in labels and don't even realize it. Grab a few different bottles of bourbon and have someone pour them into glasses and mark the bottom and do a blind taste test. You may be surprised by what you find.
 
Posts: 589 | Registered: February 07, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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There's some really good information and advice in what 46and2 has posted.

I have a buddy that has started down the bourbon highway and I've had to tell him a couple of times that he is sucking the fun out of it. He buys, cracks open a bunch of bottles and thinks he has to try to decifer every aroma and taste out of each and put them all head to head. Hell, he even has a spreadsheet of everything he has bought, tasted, compared to others and whether it needs to be replenished or not.

I gave him my process which is I buy something I want to try, I crack it open and taste it and if I like it I drink it and will probably buy it again. If I don't like it I'll eventually empty the bottle but not replace it. Also keep in mind that something you try and don't like today may mellow a bit after opening and the next time you have it you may now enjoy it. Pallets change.

Like you I love the offerings from the BT Distillery and have bottles of BT, EH Taylor, Eagle Rare and Blantons. I only open a bottle if I have a replacement and at I just recently got a backup bottle of EH Taylor so I can now open the one I've had for 3 years. Now that said I have had bottles of BT that I've opened and thought boy, this is terrible so a clunker can happen at times.

Recently I'm really starting to enjoy some of the offerings from Wild Turkey like the Kentucky Spirit and Rare Breed offerings.
 
Posts: 2451 | Location: Southern Minnesota | Registered: March 15, 2010Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Oh stewardess,
I speak jive.
Picture of 46and2
posted Hide Post
Remember, almost all Bourbon (and Rye and Tennessee) comes from the same small handful of physical Distilleries. There's only about six or eight real big ones and several smaller operations. These are the physical Distilleries I recall off hand:

Heaven Hill
Four Roses
Buffalo Trace
Beam
Wild Turkey
Makers Mark
Woodford
Willett
Bulleit
EH Taylor (owned by Buffalo Trace)
Dickel
Jack Daniels
Jeffersons?
etc

The top five or six (in production volume) produce most brands and expressions of all Bourbon, Rye, and Tennessee whiskey.

Buffalo Trace, Beam, Wild Turkey, Four Roses, and Heaven Hill are classic big Distilleries with long histories in the Bourbon world, each worth exploring. Some of them have multi generations of Master Distillers (Beam, Wild Turkey, Van Winkle, etc).

Beam and Wild Turkey expressions lean a bit spicy, Four Roses and Bulleit, too.

Buffalo Trace has a wider variety than most, across many brand names and series.

Dickel and Jack are their own thing, not amazing, not terrible, an acquired taste. They're basically Bourbon, too, fwiw, they just call it "Tennessee Whiskey" but this upsets spme folks to hear and many will argue agaisnt it. Still true, though.

These are loose guides at best, but still useful.

Enjoy.
 
Posts: 25612 | Registered: March 12, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Caribou gorn
Picture of YellowJacket
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Brown-Forman has the distillery in Shively that makes Old Forester. They also own Woodford and JD.

Barton makes 1792.

Kentucky Artisan Distillery makes Jefferson.

Stitzel-Weller makes Blade and Bow.



I'm gonna vote for the funniest frog with the loudest croak on the highest log.
 
Posts: 9924 | Location: Marietta, GA | Registered: February 10, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of konata88
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Lots of great info here!

I wish liquor stores would do bourbon tasting sessions like they do for wine. Or maybe they do and I just haven't noticed. I'll look into it.

I do like BT but in reality it's a sample size of 2. I'd like to get exposure to more w/o breaking the bank. I can't spend hundreds of dollars just to try things - I wouldn't survive the day. I've been checking bars around here and they pretty much all carry the same stuff (amazingly, for as popular as BT is, no one has it).




"Those who would give up essential Liberty, to purchase a little temporary Safety, deserve neither Liberty nor Safety." - B.Franklin
"Wrong does not cease to be wrong because the majority share in it." L.Tolstoy
 
Posts: 10757 | Location: In the gilded cage | Registered: December 09, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Oh stewardess,
I speak jive.
Picture of 46and2
posted Hide Post
fwiw, of the 300ish whiskey expressions I've tasted, probably 220 of them were at my friends' homes and generally didn't require me to purchase anything.

One guy has a dozen or so open bottles, another guy has 20-30, etc., so and so has a neighbor who is also into it, and before you know it, loads of examples to try.

Look in your local area. Most of my sampling happened in the same 4yr period.

Bring a bottle of X to a friends house, try several of theirs, or cook steaks for these three friends and they will bring a box of open bottles over to try, all that.

Sometimes local stores do tastings, or you meet other enthusiasts at the store...
 
Posts: 25612 | Registered: March 12, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Caribou gorn
Picture of YellowJacket
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Yep, I do tastings with a couple of different friend groups a few times a year.



I'm gonna vote for the funniest frog with the loudest croak on the highest log.
 
Posts: 9924 | Location: Marietta, GA | Registered: February 10, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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