When tasting whiskey, your palate picks up what you taste in a moment. I think I always knew this, but it was hammered into my skull when researching my book, Bourbon: The Rise, Fall & Rebirth of American Whiskey.
In the 1940s, a chemist challenged Stitzel-Weller master distiller Will McGill’s tasting method. The argument was over using chemistry to analyze whiskey. McGill was like, “nope, just let me taste,” while the chemist made the sound argument that there are so many variables that can deter taste buds, such as eating onions for lunch, that you cannot rely on human senses alone to batch whiskey. That early theory has been supported by recent research in people studying genetics and taste buds. One those researchers is Associate Professor Michael Williams, Department of Neuroscience, at Uppsala University. He told me: “We all have different perceptions when it comes to taste, partly due to our genetics, but these perceptions are also influenced by our current physiological state. In other words, how we perceive a whiskey’s flavor profile is influenced by such things as how long it’s been since we last ate, how well we slept and are we catching or recovering from a cold. What you tasted last influences what your mind expects, which affects how you perceive flavors. Your perception of taste can also be impacted by your mood – are you happy, depressed or distracted at the time. Finally, recent research has demonstrated that our internal clock plays a role in how we perceive flavors, meaning, even the time of day can impact on how we rate a whisky. Taking all this into consideration, it is unfair to any whiskey to rate it after only one trial.”
With that said, when you know something is garbage, you know. If you’re smelling toe jam or fermented chocolate milk, you don’t need to taste three times. But if it passed the point of “is it at least decent?” You start really drilling into the depths of the whiskey.
That is why I have always been hellbent on tasting three times for a score or rating.
So, why the hell am I giving reviews on YouTube after one taste? Well…. okay, I suck for that. But I do my best to taste three times before I give a rating. The fact is, I am working harder and longer hours with less pay. The Pandemic kicked me in the nether regions and one of the things I have had to cut is my typical tasting ritual.
With that said, I tasted Wild Turkey on YouTube and was on the fence about it. This is my second tasting, and I love it.
The cherry pie and pecan notes stand strong. And now, on the nose, I am getting leather, nutmeg, more caramel and vanilla than I recall and a lovely honeysuckle note. On the palate, chocolate and butter over pecan and cherry pie, with just a dollop of vanilla ice cream. A resounding pepper note comes in for a beautiful finish.
What’s different today than when I tasted before?
Well, I’m cutting back on caffeine. My kids are in daycare now. And I am wearing a Hawaiian shirt as I taste. If any of that matters, I don’t know, but those three things jump out as different.
So, do how would I rate it?
Well, given we have two different takes. I think it’s time to throw this in a blind taste off to see how it does and to make sure I am not influence by what is a beautiful bottle.
I will be blind tasting it against EH Taylor Bottled in Bond, Wilderness Trail 6 year Bottled in Bond and Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond 15 year. If it comes out on top of this lineup, it’s an elite whiskey.Stay In Touch!