My (not so) refined palate

I wish I could say I have a refined palate but the truth is, while I think I can distinguish flavors I had a very hard time identifying them. However, I had the opportunity to do some pseudo taste testing with the help of Ang doing the blind preparation. She recently got me several Bourbons (ain’t she great) and since I had so many varieties in the house at one time it seemed like an ideal situation to try them out.

Now, I’ve been a fan of Knob Creek for a while. In fact, it’s really what got me into drinking Bourbon more often. Keeping that in mind, the following results surprised me a bit.

The candidates:

  • Knob Creek
  • Bookers (another long time favorite)
  • Bernheim (really a wheat Whiskey and not Bourbon)
  • Dickel Barrel Select
  • Jefferson’s Reserve Very Small Batch
  • Prichards Double Barreled

The first thing I did was a sniff test. I honestly couldn’t tell a great deal of difference between the varieties when smelled from a shot glass. I believe I can tell a difference when smelling from the bottle but that wasn’t the test.

I did two tests. First was neat where I took about two moderate draws and swished it around a bit before swallowing. Here are the notes in reverse order of preference:

6th – Bookers

  • Upfront bite
  • Slow burn in back
  • Harsh, Woody

5th – Knob (most surprising)

  • Harsh upfront
  • Becomes more mellow
  • Hard to find a distinct flavor

4th – Bernheim Wheat Whiskey

  • Darker color
  • A little harsh
  • Sweet highs after the initial bite

2nd Tied – Jefferson’s Reserve

  • Not as harsh up front
  • Lots of flavor
  • Cherry?

2nd Tied – Dickel’s Barrel Select

  • Not very harsh
  • Very distinct flavor
  • Almost flowery up front
  • Thought it was Bernheim’s

1st – Prichards Double Barreled

  • Not much burn
  • Little sweet up front
  • Little vanilla
  • Darker color

So, the results of the first test, neat, kind of surprised me. To find my two favorite Bourbons in the last two positions was interesting. After some googling I also found this link at which suggests there’s some cherry flavors in Jefferson’s Reserve. Hmm…maybe I can refine that palate after all!

For the second test Angie mixed 1/2 oz Bourbon with 3 oz Coke. This is usually my preferred way of drinking it. No doubt this is sacrilege to Bourbon purists but too bad. In retrospect the ratio was a little short as they were weaker than I normally have but that’s ok. It gave me a good baseline to judge them all by. So, in reverse order again:

6th – Prichard’s Double Barreled

  • Not much flavor
  • Pretty smooth

5th – Bookers

  • Strong
  • Little bit harsh

4th – Bernheim Wheat Whiskey

  • Woody
  • Not harsh

3rd – Knob Creek

  • Not harsh
  • Pretty sweet

2nd – Dickel Barrel Select

  • Vanilla?
  • Sweeter
  • Very nice

1st – Jefferson’s Reserve

  • Great flavor
  • Candy like
  • No harshness

Again, I’m let down by what I thought was one of my favorites, Bookers. It just came across as too harsh compared to the others. I guess that shouldn’t come as a surprise considering the alcohol content. Thankfully Knob Creek faired better. Still, I think I have a new favorite in Jefferson’s Reserve. Wow, it really stood out from the rest. Excellent flavor and depth and very smooth.

So, there you have it. I’m sure the terminology I’m using is all wrong. Oh well. I think I got across my impressions just fine, thank you very much!

If I come across another brand sometime soon I’ll see about adding my comments about it as well.

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