What’s Your Favorite Band? What’s Your Favorite Bourbon?

As someone who is very much into both music and Bourbon, I frequently get asked these two questions:

What’s your favorite band?

                              What’s your favorite Bourbon?

Whatever is playing now.

                              Whatever is in my glass now.

Whatever is playing next.

                              Whatever is in my glass next.

Whatever fits the mood.

Whatever inspires the mood.

Whatever sets the occasion.

Whatever elevates the occasion.

Whatever I can share with you.

Whatever you can share with me.

Someone’s choice in music or choice of whiskey can be a deeply personal thing, but can also be something even the most introverted among us is willing to share with practically anyone.  A song’s opening guitar riff can take us back days or even decades to emotion-filled moments of our past.  While the sight of a bottle or a sip of its contents can spark memories of drinking stories we have already told way too many times.

There are times when a song or a band or a musician is deserving of something special in our glass.  Or whatever is in our glass is made more special because of the music we’re enjoying with it.  I’ve paired E.H. Taylor with The Rolling Stones.  Lee W. Sinclair with Rush.  Stumpy’s Spirits rye with The White Stripes.  And Booker’s with Led Zeppelin and/or old school Country music.  Some of these pairings are with purpose.  Some are just coincidental.  All are best enjoyed on the deck.

One pairing tradition I have is Tom Petty with Weller Special Reserve.  Three years ago today Tom Petty passed away and I had a pour in his memory of what I had in my glass at the time: that Weller green label.  There wasn’t any significance to Weller Special Reserve at the time.  But, WSR has gained significance to me because I now associate it with Tom Petty. 

Is Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers my favorite band?  Sure…sometimes.

Is Weller Special Reserve my favorite Bourbon?  One day a year since 2017.

So, this evening I’ll be sipping Weller on the deck and listening to the “Wildflowers” album and then random hits and b-sides from 40 years of mid-tempo rock-n-roll classics.

Cheers! 

Turn it up.   

There’s something good waiting down this road.

Blind Tasting Is Truth

Like me, Galileo is a fan of blind tastings. Because, you see, blind tastings are truth. There is no label bias. No influence of Bourbon journalists. No social media pressure. It’s simply you, the whiskey and what you like. What you really like.

At a recent Bourbon Fellowship we had thirteen guys participate in two blind tastings. The “Bourbon experience” level in the group ranged from novice to what I would consider to be sophisticated. They were given no clues about what they were tasting other than the liquid in front of them was, in fact, Bourbon. There were three Bourbons in each flight and they were instructed to rank them 1st, 2nd and 3rd. The results were surprising to both me and Galileo.

Blind Tasting #1

For the first tasting I decided to explore the wheated mashbill from Buffalo Trace. The Bourbons included were Weller Special Reserve, Old Weller Antique and Pappy Van Winkle 15 year. The results:

While none of these Bourbons are easy to find, the one that is the most difficult to locate and will cost you $1000 on the secondary market finished last. LAST! And with only one 1st place vote along the way.

Galileo: “I just discovered the moons of Jupi…wait, Pappy’s finished last?

Blind Tasting #2

For the second tasting I also picked on a highly-allocated Buffalo Trace product. I matched Blanton’s against Cooper’s Craft (82.2 proof) and JTS Brown bottled-in-bond. The results:

While the betting favorite (Blanton’s) came out on top in this flight, it was by a very slim margin. Some of the more experienced palates in the group actually preferred Cooper’s over Blanton’s. So, the question at hand: Is it worth hours of hunting to get Blanton’s when other less expensive and more readily available Bourbons may be close to it in terms of your actual taste preference?

Can we draw definitive conclusions here? Probably not. If the same group tasted the same Bourbons a day later the results could be different. Likewise, if another group did the same blind tastings the order of finish would likely not be the same.

What we can conclude is that blind tastings do reveal truth. Or if that goes too far for you, blind tastings at least dispel myths: well-entrenched, very expensive myths. And unlike Galileo, you don’t have to suffer the wrath of the Inquisition to do so.

These blind tastings were a lot of fun. The group seems to really enjoy them. I would encourage you to do these with friends in small or large groups. You are sure to learn a few things and have a good time while doing it.

Kevin Rose