May 15, 2020

Forgiveness and Having a Short Bourbon Memory


If you can think back to DBC Virtual Happy Hour episode #4, you'd recall that pretty much half the group was drinking Belle Meade Bourbon Cask Strength Reserve. That's not really an exaggeration; half of the group was drinking that same expression. Now, if you've got a really good DBC memory, then you'd recall that I thought Belle Meade Cask Strength was one of the worst bourbons that I had in 2018. The Great Chad Nelson who bought one at the same time as me, even agreed: that bottle was terrible.

But I got to thinking over the weekend: If half the group is drinking this particular bottle and even beating up our guest to provide batch and barrel information (only kidding Langston), then maybe this bourbon was worth a revisit. As fate would have it, I saw a bottle on sale at my local Goody as I was restocking on essential Wild Turkey Rare Breed. I figured, what did I have to lose? If I hated it again, then I knew a few people I could call to offload. So Sunday night, as my week was winding down, I thought I'd give it a go.

And everything that I said about it in 2018 was totally wrong. This is outstanding whiskey. Maybe I got a bad batch? Maybe I was still a young neophyte in my bourbon journey? But what I tasted Sunday night was not the same thing that I had two years ago that is for damn sure.

The morale of this story is that as time goes on, your tastes may change. You may have opened an old batch of something, hated it, gave it the ol' drain pour and then swore it off. You may be writing off something delicious when you do that. If I had stuck to my guns and never bought another Belle Meade Cask Strength Reserve, I'd be missing out on this beautiful gem. I think this rings especially true for the new guys. They really need some time to get it right, perfect their system and most importantly: become better blenders. While I can easily get off on a tangent on why blending may be the most important piece of the equation, I will refocus on the point of this section: Practice forgiveness when it comes to bourbon. Sometimes the first release is hot trash, sometimes they nail it, but chances are: if you are seeing a second release/multiple go-rounds for a certain product, give it another chance. It might even be better than you previously thought!

A short memory and the power to forgive a bad release will take you far in this bourbon world. It's been a nice lesson for me to learn and I now have a delicious bourbon in my cabinet. Go out and revisit something you didn't like at first; you may just be totally surprised.