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Mar 13

Bourbons: Blind Tasting

We have a lot of bourbon in our house. After all, Kentucky does pride itself on inventing bourbon.
We picked up two new bottles Saturday night on the recommendation of
our new friend Michael at Cork and Bottle. I’m not one for drinking my whiskey
straight, but Kevin can handle it. Therefore, he is officially the beer & spirits guy here at My Wine Education. That said, I turn
this post over to my ever capable husband.
– Michelle

I was looking through our bar area and noticed a large number of different
bourbons. I decided to take advantage of the situation and this past weekend I
had Michelle prepare a 5-bourbon blind tasting. Michelle poured roughly a shot of each bourbon into 5
different glasses sitting on top of daily calendar pages for
the 5th through the the 9th of March.  I then sampled each drink
without knowing the contents.

For tasting criteria, I took into account that Michelle likes bourbon mixed with
Diet Cola,  while I look for enjoyable drinks that stand on their own.
With that in mind, I rated my drinks on the following criteria:

  1. Flavor, when consumed Neat (No ice, no water)
  2. Ability to mix with a heavy syrupy cola-type beverage

With those criteria in mind, I present the following tasting notes after the jump.

Bourbon #5

Color: Lighter than the rest.
Nose: Vanilla, Hickory smokey flavor
Flavor: Alcohol, Dry, Tart
Aftertaste: Still feeling the effects of the alcohol, in fact my lips are tingly, this can’t be a good thing. I still have 4 more to go.

Cola Possibilities: (This tastes like it’ll get the job done)

Bourbon #6

Color: A very light brown
Nose: Much sweeter
Flavor: Carmel, Dry
After: Smooth and well rounded, light caramel.

Cola Possibilities:  (All subtleties would be lost with the addition of cola)


Bourbon #7

Color: Medium Brown
Nose: Toasty Oak
Flavor: Dry and Enjoyable
After: Well rounded and pleasant


Bourbon #8

Color: Medium Color
Nose: Alcohol again
Flavor: Alcohol, not as much as the first and with hints of vanilla


Bourbon #9

Color: Lighter
Nose: Oak, slightly dryer
Flavor: Well balanced, nice, not great



So to recap, Best Overall:

#7 – Maker’s Mark
#6 – Eagle Rare
#9 – Woodford Reserve
#8 – Knob Creek
#5 – Old Weller

Did I miss any? Other bourbons to try again? Should I add Whiskey Sours to the tasting? Other drinks?

My first bourbon ever was Makers and it still tastes enjoyable neat or mixed. I also noticed that the my ratings are is almost in perfect ascending alcohol content levels, from Makers at 45% up to Old Weller at 53.5%.

– Kevin

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Posted by Michelle at 10:54 am in Scotch & Whiskey | Permalink | Comments (2)

2 Responses to “Bourbons: Blind Tasting”

  1. el jefe says:

    I am a relative novice tasting Bourbons (and Ryes) but I have noticed how much a small amount of clean water can contribute to my enjoyment of the higher alcohol spirits. I wonder if retasting with a measured amount of water would lead to a different result?
    thanks! – j

  2. John says:

    I agree with that comment above. I have some Old Grand Dad 114. Without water, it is searingly alcoholic; with water, you get all the nuances without the burn. (And it’s not a hot aftertaste, OGD 114 starts out fiery.)

    I love to read blind tastings as there’s a group of maybe ten affordable bourbons that get great individual reviews, but head to head, the good bourbon list is far shorter.

    Maker’s Mark, which I didn’t care for years ago, does very well in these tastings. On the other hand, highly touted Woodford doesn’t do well.

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