Tasting Blind to Help Us See

Whiskey aficionados spend a lot of time tasting and reviewing whiskey. We search for new and exciting releases, hoping the next one will be the best we’ve ever had. Many of us, myself included, are quick to share our opinions in blogs and social media circles. We try to be impartial and unbiased when tasting; to observe the color, viscosity, aromas and flavors, and judge the whiskey solely on its merits, not its provenance or pedigree. However, despite our best intentions, we rarely judge a whiskey by its physical or sensory characteristics alone.

As devotees to the refined enjoyment of our beloved intoxicants, we must appreciate that tasting is a subjective exercise, and our judgement is often influenced by any number of factors. How much did the bottle cost? Has it received good (or bad) reviews? Did it come recommended by a friend? Is it a “limited” edition? Was it some mysterious lost barrel that might be from Stitzel-Weller (don’t worry, it’s not!)? All of these things come into play when we’re tasting, whether we realize it or not. Even the most experienced whiskey drinkers are influenced by these factors. It’s human nature. Our expectations often influence our perception. So how do we eliminate these factors from the equation? It’s easy! Taste blind.

Continue reading Tasting Blind to Help Us See

Jack Rose Dining Saloon: Whiskey Nirvana

Nestled within our nation’s capital, located on the south side of the culturally diverse neighborhood of Adams Morgan, you will find the rarest of gems. An establishment that once visited, will change your whiskey-loving life forever. I’m referring to Jack Rose Dining Saloon, a bar unlike any other. Actually, to even refer to Jack Rose as a “bar” is borderline insulting. A more appropriate term is “whiskey library”; a vast and mind-boggling collection of bourbons, ryes and Scotch whiskies; a collection that likely surpasses any you’ve come across before, and one that’ll make a grown whiskey nerd like myself weep tears of joy. If you’d like to hear more about this magical place I speak of, please read on my friend.

Continue reading Jack Rose Dining Saloon: Whiskey Nirvana

If Angel’s Envy Is Bourbon, Then so Is Jack Daniels!

When I was a kid, I thought that Jack Daniel’s was about as cool as the musicians I saw drinking it. My walls were plastered with photos from Circus and Metal Edge magazine, and it certainly wasn’t uncommon to see Nikki Sixx, Slash or Lemmy pulling from a bottle of JD. In my youth, Jack Daniel’s represented rock-and-roll, rebellion and good ol’ bad-assery. As a middle-aged bourbon aficionado…not so much. Die-hard bourbon fans just aren’t interested in Jack Daniel’s because it’s a “Tennessee Whiskey” and not a bourbon. Well, my opinion changed recently when I decided to buy a bottle of JD Single Barrel Select and give it a fair shot. I actually liked it. I liked it a lot! And that got me thinking about how biased I had been against the brand, simply because of its’ classification as something other than a bourbon. I know there are scores of bourbon purists out there that feel the same way, which is a shame. It’s not like I feel sorry for Brown-Forman. Jack Daniel’s is the number one selling whiskey in the world, after all, and I’m sure they’ve gone out of their way to separate the brand as a Tennessee Whiskey. I also understand why a bourbon fan wouldn’t be into the standard JD offering. It’s only 80-proof, it’s syrupy sweet, and it’s lacking in complexity. Be that as it may, it seems that Brown-Forman is now releasing some quality JD expressions, and I think it’s unfortunate when folks won’t try them simply because they aren’t bourbons… or so they think. I’d like to make the argument that Jack Daniels is, technically speaking, a bourbon! So, if the only reason you won’t give JD a chance is its classification, please read on, and perhaps I can help you to see it in a different light.

Continue reading If Angel’s Envy Is Bourbon, Then so Is Jack Daniels!