Have you ever seen a new bottle of bourbon on the shelf at your favorite liquor store, and thought, “I better see what the experts have to say before I shell out my hard earned cash for a complete unknown”? I certainly have.
Of course, the question then becomes,”What experts should I seek out?”
Just like anything else, when you take your first foray into bourbon tasting, its difficult to know who the “experts” really are. The longer you spend in the Bourbon culture, the more you come to realize that there really are no experts. Because palates very so greatly, the reviewer I find to be insightful, you may find to be clueless, and the truth is, we are both right. The trick is to find an authority whose palate most closely matches your own. Over time I have come to trust the opinions of several who have, in my estimation, hit the nail on the head time and time again.
The greatest disservice to those new to bourbon, however, are those reviews that never find fault with a single spirit. They are so concerned about ruffling feathers, that they lose sight of their true purpose: informing the masses. These Stepford Blogs continuously provide ratings of 95, 96, 97 and higher to everything they taste, so as not to offend those who produce them. The problem is that you, the reader, are left with no usable guidance when trying to choose between them. At The Bourbon Guys, we strive to offer our honest, forthright opinion of every spirit we taste. Anything less is a disservice to our readers, and quite frankly, a waste of your time. We have great respect for the master distillers from distilleries all over this great nation, but it is completely unreasonable to assume that those who make some excellent whiskey, always make excellent whiskey. The men responsible for some of the best whiskey we’ve ever tasted are also responsible for spirits we would hesitate to mix with cola. And what’s more, they would be the first to admit it. Time and again, we have spoken with master distillers who have been making whiskey for decades, and every one of them have a story of an experiment that went awry, failed, and was blended out of existence.
The bottom line is this: Find a reviewer whose opinions closely match your own, but guard against those that never seem to find fault with any product they try. While it is certainly helpful to hear about the latest fantastic whiskey to hit the store shelves, we believe it is more helpful to hear about those that fall short of the mark. Keeping you forewarned and perhaps saving you some of that hard earned cash in the bargain.
- The Bourbon Guys