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Old 05-12-16, 11:20 AM   #1
tandembethesda
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Bourbon Tasting

So I had a number of bourbons home and I decided to do a blind taste test. I actually contacted the owner of Buffalo Trace distillery (makers of Pappy's - considered the best by many, but way out of my price range) the for a suggestion of two addition bourbons (one low end, one high end).

So here is the order of my ranking.
Blanton's
Woodford Reserve
Buffalo Trace
E.H Taylor
Very Old Barton's
Jack Daniels

Of course this is only my opinion and I am not suggesting I am an expert. Blanton's was undoubtably my favorite and Jack Daniels was my least favorite.

My bottle of Blanton's is pretty old, so it may not represent the current product. My goal was to find an inexpensive bourbon that I really enjoy. I guess Buffalo Trace came the closest to being this. I was little disappointed that the recommended bourbons were in the bottom three. Maybe I just have bad taste.
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Old 05-12-16, 11:45 AM   #2
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Here's the thing... what is the goal of the Bourbon makers? Are they seeking to make a strong recognizable flavor, while still maintaining the Bourbon label?

What you "like" one over the other due to a weaker flavor... but then you are missing more subtle notes that might come out in a stronger flavor... thus the irony of being a first time taster.

I run into something like that with IPAs... (totally different alcohol, I know, but it comes down to knowing the product and what the goals may be... )
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Old 05-12-16, 12:06 PM   #3
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JD is not bourbon.

And where's the Bulleit? It falls under the affordable and tasty category in my book.
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Old 05-12-16, 01:00 PM   #4
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+1 for Bulleit.
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Old 05-12-16, 02:13 PM   #5
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yes, Tennessee whiskey is not bourbon.

And I'm partial to Knob Creek.
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Old 05-12-16, 02:21 PM   #6
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my daily bourbon for the last few years has been 1792.

altho Woodford is easily drinkable, it's somewhat lacking in character.

recently tried some Old Forester...surprisingly good at its price point.
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Old 05-12-16, 06:01 PM   #7
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Yes, Buffalo Trace is good. And a lot of non-bourbon drinkers would like it.

I had Colonel EH Taylor Small Batch "bottled in bond", very good and (at the time) not expensive, but can't find it any more.

I liked Bulleit Rye. Bourbon is often 10% to maybe 35% rye, so it's interesting to get the rye flavor by itself.
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Old 05-12-16, 06:12 PM   #8
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I liked Bulleit Rye. Bourbon is often 10% to maybe 35% rye, so it's interesting to get the rye flavor by itself.
if you're into rye, try Rittenhouse.
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Old 05-12-16, 07:15 PM   #9
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genec

Interesting response. I tend to choose things based on what I like as opposed to what others tell me I should like. I remember years ago hating Heineken and many people said I didn't understand good beer. It turned out at that time Heineken was not pasteurized and what they really like was spoiled or "skunked" beer.

I know the in thing now is IPA. IPA was originally developed by the British to ship to India because the higher alcohol content allowed it to be shipped to India. I tend to prefer a lager or pilsner.
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Old 05-13-16, 08:33 AM   #10
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genec

Interesting response. I tend to choose things based on what I like as opposed to what others tell me I should like. I remember years ago hating Heineken and many people said I didn't understand good beer. It turned out at that time Heineken was not pasteurized and what they really like was spoiled or "skunked" beer.

I know the in thing now is IPA. IPA was originally developed by the British to ship to India because the higher alcohol content allowed it to be shipped to India. I tend to prefer a lager or pilsner.
I agree with your first paragraph.

A few things about the second paragraph:

The thing I don't like about IPAs is the high bitterness. I've found, however, that there are IPAs out there that are not as bitter as others, or have other flavors/aspects to them that counteract the bitterness to make for an enjoyable beer. There also exist lagers and non-IPA ales that are just as bitter, or even more bitter, than the average IPA.

Pilsners are lagers.
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Old 05-13-16, 10:56 AM   #11
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genec

Interesting response. I tend to choose things based on what I like as opposed to what others tell me I should like. I remember years ago hating Heineken and many people said I didn't understand good beer. It turned out at that time Heineken was not pasteurized and what they really like was spoiled or "skunked" beer.

I know the in thing now is IPA. IPA was originally developed by the British to ship to India because the higher alcohol content allowed it to be shipped to India. I tend to prefer a lager or pilsner.
The jury seems to be out on IPAs. Supposedly their more heavily-hopped nature was what gave them a longer shelf life for the voyage. Either way, I live for IPAs. And there is one helluva spectrum for them. Some have very little in the bitter sense. Other IPAs are over the top. So blanket statements that shun their bitterness hold little credence with me. They are made by folks that have judged based on a few pales. Some lean heavily in the grapefruit direction, others very floral. I have about a half dozen go-to IPAs that are in the middle of the road for bitterness, fullness, and citrus versus floral.

Back to the OP's topic, ever been to Kentucky's Bourbon Trail? I have not, although I've passed it and put it on my to-do list.
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Old 05-20-16, 06:07 PM   #12
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I'm not sure I can list them in order from first to last, but I'll give it a go. (and they are all currently in the cabinet.) Some I like neat, some with a splash or even an ice cube or three. The Stagg Jr. takes some water and or ice being a cask proof.

Blantons.
Stagg Jr.
Elmer T. Lee
W.L Weller
Buffalo Trace
Knob Creek
Old Rip Van Winkle 10 yr.
Eagle Rare

When IPA's got trendy a few years ago the brewers got into an IBU contest and some of them just got tongue splitting bitter. The attitude was the more hops you pitch in the better the beer. Thankfully that's slowed down over the last couple of years and most of them are making more balanced versions. I've got a half a dozen of them I like but if you haven't found your goto's yet, you're going to pitch more of them down the drain than you'll ever like. It's part of the journey and certainly no shame it.
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Old 05-25-16, 01:31 PM   #13
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... you're going to pitch more of them down the drain than you'll ever like. It's part of the journey and certainly no shame it.
The only beer I've never been able to finish and ended up pouring it out is Corona.
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Old 05-25-16, 02:40 PM   #14
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The only beer I've never been able to finish and ended up pouring it out is Corona.
I must confess, I tossed this one.

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Old 05-25-16, 02:42 PM   #15
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No mention of 1792...for shame.

edit: missed post #6

Last edited by jfowler85; 05-26-16 at 11:56 AM.
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Old 05-25-16, 02:43 PM   #16
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No mention of 1792...for shame.
Post #6
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Old 05-25-16, 02:44 PM   #17
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No mention of 1792...for shame.
see post #6 ...

and while I'm at it, my guy at the likker store gave me a bum steer on Very Old Barton...

it was an economical winner, but tasted thin, watery...ya get what ya pay for.
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Old 05-26-16, 11:55 AM   #18
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Post edited.
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Old 05-30-16, 04:11 PM   #19
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Updated my test

So I added some more bourbons and updated my tests. Here is the results


Blanton's
Woodford Reserve
E.H Taylor
Buffalo Trace
Jefferson Reserve
Bulleit
Very Old Barton's
Jack Daniels

A few notes'
- everything above VOB is great bourbon. The order switched a little this time, but Blanton's really sticks out.
- I'm doing this test blind and using Bellemain whisky glasses (if you haven't tried them, I highly recommend them)
- I know JD is not bourbon. Use to be a diehard JD fan till I read an article in a magazine about bourbon tasting. and how they did a test Blanton's won, but Dickel (which is also a sour mash) came in second. JD was dead last. I tried a similar test with Blanton's, Dickel, JD, Wild Turkey, and Jim Beam. Blanton's was the definite number one, but Dickel was a close second an MUCH cheaper. Dickel became my bourbon of choice and they rewarded me by selling off to Diageo and discontinuing it in order to get the price to rebound. They started to make it again in 2003, but they lost me as a customer.
- Based on my tests, Buffalo Trace and Bulleit are fine everyday bourbons, but Blanton's is still tops. I heard that Costco's bourbon is made by Buffalo Trace, so I may give it a try.
- I did have fun with one of my friends who swore JD was the best. I gave him a test with 5 bourbons and JD was dead last. I highly recommend you take you favorite bourbon and test it blinding with some others. You might be surprised.
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