Thursday, January 8, 2015

Producer produced tasting notes

Fred Minnick (@FredMinnick) asked a question on Twitter last night:
How do you feel about bourbon brands "telling" you what you should taste? For or against? Who cares? Shove it up your ascot?
My immediate thought was, "That don't confront me." Brands tell me all sorts of things about their bourbons, and some of it is true. I assume producer-provided tasting notes are about as helpful as anyone else's notes to me -- viz, not much, since I have a crude palate with about five spokes on its flavor wheel.

As liquor advertising goes, telling you what you should taste is pretty harmless. And it is worth keeping in mind, I think, that telling you what you should taste is advertising, even if it's someone's true opinion of what the whiskey tastes like. (A special case is Four Roses, whose notes to distinguish its ten distillates can be helpful in reminding you which one the OESO is again ("Fruity (Red Berries), Medium Body").)

I have a couple of contrarian data points, of microdistillers who aren't at all interested in anything like tasting notes. At a tasting last year, I asked the folks from Reservoir how they would describe their bourbon. I was getting berries, followed by cloves, and I was curious whether they'd say something similar. What they said, after a laugh, was something similar to, "You mean like, 'I taste a hint of moonlit papaya and crushed saddle leather'? We just say it tastes good."

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