I Went To A Bourbon Pairing Event Despite Disliking Bourbon

There’s something about pairing events that really interests me. I love the idea that there is a specific drink that goes with a specific food based on experts’ opinions on their flavors, and the way they interact with or compliment each other. I’ve been to a few wine pairing events, and once opted for the wine pairing to go with a set five-course menu at a fancier place, but this was the first bourbon pairing event I’d heard of.

This was a ticketed event at Crafted & Cured. If you haven’t seen my other posts over them, Crafted & Cured is a local eatery that specializes in awesome charcuterie boards and craft beers, ciders, wines, and more recently has introduced their bourbon bar. This was also their first time doing an event like this. I knew I didn’t want to miss out on their first pairing event, so I got a ticket, which was $75.

You might’ve heard me mention a time or two before, but I really don’t like bourbon. I know some people love a good scotch, or a whiskey neat, but I never got the hype. It’s gross to me, and every time I try it, I am reminded why I generally steer clear of it.

So why would I go to an event specifically centered on tasting bourbon? At first I thought it was just because I wanted to support a local business I love, but then I realized I actually wanted to learn about these bourbons and hear an expert in the field talk about them. Just because it isn’t my passion doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting to listen to someone talk in detail about theirs. There’s so much to learn about the process, the making of, and since I work in a related field that is also more interesting than I originally thought (wine), I thought I’d give it a try.

So, off to the event I went. The first thing I noticed, as I often do at things like this, was that I was the youngest person there, and I was the only one alone. I thought I’d be sitting by myself at a table on my own, but there were actually a few large tables set up, so everyone ended up sitting with strangers one way or another. I sat at the head of one of the longer tables.

The food and bourbon was already set up at each individual seat, ready to go:

A square charcuterie board made of slate. On it sits a sliced baguette in the center, surrounded by salami slices, meat rolled into the shape of flowers, blackberries, almonds, olives, Peruvian sweety drop peppers, a wedge of cheese, mustard, and chocolate bark. Above the charcuterie board sits four tasting glasses, each filled with a little bit of bourbon. The tasting glasses sit on top of a paper that says the name of each bourbon.

Along with the food and bourbon there was also a sheet for recording your thoughts on each bourbon:

A sheet of paper that lists each bourbon, then has three boxes for recording your thoughts on the bourbon. The boxes are

It also told you which bourbon went with which item on the charcuterie board.

And here’s a closer look at the bourbons before I start talking about them in more detail:

The four bourbon tasting glasses lined up in a row. A dropper bottle of water, along with a full glass of water, accompany them.

First up was Russell’s Reserve 10 year old bourbon by Wild Turkey. I have actually heard of Wild Turkey before, as it’s a pretty popular brand. This was paired with the sliced salami, which was a bourbon and sour cherry salami by Brooklyn Cured. Now, the salami, I really liked. Salami is a great cured meat in general, and I love the inclusion of fruit with cured meats, so no complaints there. As for the bourbon, I was not so much a fan.

I smelled it first, as the paper indicates you’re supposed to do, and it mostly smelled like rubbing alcohol (which vodka does too, I’m not blaming the bourbon for that), but it also had that very specific sort of sweet scent that only bourbon seems to have. Tasting it was like drinking liquid fire. It burned and I made a ridiculous face. I totally hated it.

As for the second one, it was a scotch. The expert guiding us through the tasting told us what makes a scotch a scotch. Turns out, scotch is made in Scotland. It literally has to be made in Scotland to be called scotch. The more you know. Anyways, it was a Famouse Grouse Smoky Black Blended Scotch Whisky by Glenturret Distillery. That’s a lot of words! The guide also told us that this is the best selling scotch in Scotland for the past forty years.

It smelled smoky, and the people around me said it had notes of tobacco. I can’t say I care for tobacco, but I gave it a shot. Good lord, my tongue was literally like AHHHHH when I tasted this one. It BURNEDDD! Again, I thoroughly hated it.

It was paired with a lovely Italian buffalo milk cheese, which they had flown in overnight from Italy. We were told it came from the spur of the boot of Italy. It was creamy and delicious, a relief from the fiery bourbon.

Thirdly, we had a Yellowstone American single malt whiskey by Limestone Branch. I learned a lot during this segment too, like about how limestone is perfect for making bourbon, and how Kentucky is full of limestone so it’s like the best place for it. It also probably contributes to why Kentucky’s horses are pretty much the best anywhere.

This whiskey smelled even sweeter than the first one, but just like all the others it just burned and was unpleasant. I tried to listen to the people around me, they were saying how sweet it was and that it had notes of honey and whatnot, but I just wasn’t getting it. Someone suggested I use the dropper bottle full of water to dilute it, but a drop or two didn’t make much of a difference for me. It dulled the burn a bit, but not enough for me to taste any of the flavors everyone else was claiming there to be.

One thing I did find cool about this one was that some of the proceeds go to Yellowstone. If you’re going to use Yellowstone in your marketing, it makes sense you’d give money to Yellowstone to preserve and protect it.

As for the food portion of this segment, it was paired with bison bresaola from Green Plains Bison Ranch. They actually brought in the guy that owns Green Plains Bison Ranch, as he’s a fellow Ohioan. He talked about his farm, the bison, the process, all that good stuff. It was so cool to hear from the owner himself. The bison are grass-fed, no grain. There’s no hormones or antibiotics, and they believe in sustainability and regenerative agriculture. It was really neat! And this bison bresaola we were given was the first ever in Ohio. How cool is that?

The bison was sliced ultra thin, like prosciutto, but was way leaner, not fatty at all. Super thin, really salty, but quite good overall. It was definitely an interesting experience.

Finally, last on the list was the Barrell Craft Spirits Gray Label Seagrass 16-year Canadian Rye. Again, so many words! What do they all mean?! This one had a really strong scent, like smoky rubbing alcohol, and burned more than all the rest. So much so that my eyes watered and even my nose burned. At this point I was sincerely trying to find any redeeming quality about it but it was no use, I just plain hated it. I couldn’t even finish this one, whereas the other three I managed to polish off.

The final food was a housemade chocolate bark, made with two different types of chocolate, peanuts, dried figs, and smoked paprika. Holy moly, it was so good. Like wildly delicious. I absolutely loved the chocolate bark, and it was probably my favorite thing of the evening.

Throughout the entire bourbon tasting, I hadn’t written a single thing down on the sheet they provided. I knew it would be wasted on me because the only words would be “fire” and “gross”.

To be clear, I was undoubtedly the only person there not enjoying the bourbon. People all around me loved each and every one of them, and some people even wanted to know if they had bottles of it there for purchase so they could take it home with them. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the bourbon, except me. And that’s okay!

I learned so much stuff about the qualifications of a bourbon, what it takes to be a scotch, about limestone and bison and Italian cheese, and it was just a lot of fun and interesting all around! I really enjoyed the experience, despite how much I dislike bourbon.

At the end of the event, they did a raffle for some prizes. They gave away some tumblers, some bar mats, and a grand prize of a small barrel to make your own bourbon in. They also gave everyone at the event a 20% off coupon for a drink from their bourbon bar, which I immediately went and got a Strawberry Siesta from:

A tall slim glass filled with a pinkish peachy liquid, topped with a strawberry and ice.

I love this drink so much, it’s my favorite of theirs from the bourbon bar.

All in all, it was a super fun event and I’m glad I could attend. They said they’d be having more like it in the future, so I’ll probably try to attend those as well. I enjoyed learning and conversating with the people around me, and it was a great way to spend a Wednesday evening.

Do you like bourbon? What looks the best to you? Would you try bison meat? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!


53 Comments on “I Went To A Bourbon Pairing Event Despite Disliking Bourbon”

  1. Whisky of ANY sort is an acquired taste. You can’t just pick it up and start drinking it having never drunk it (or rarely) before. And good lord, bourbon is NOT scotch. For them to be mixing the two is sacrilege!!

  2. You might ask them if they would let you just come and do the food tasting. We do that regularly at the Carrabba’s chain location near us with their wine dinners – skip the wine, just have the meal – and we enjoy that – and they give us a noticeable discount for not drinking the wine. Win/win

  3. So you tried a few whiskies, not really bourbon. Only the first was a bourbon. You should have been given some water and some ice, which do alter the flavor and make it more palatable to someone unused to spirits. Also, different whiskies are great in cocktails which lower the proof (generally) and make some wonderful drinks. Try a Paper Plane or a Penicillin amd see what you think!

  4. I commend you for being such a trooper and sharing your palate-jarring experience. As a whiskey fan, you had me in stitches describing your reactions to each one.

  5. As rochrist mentioned, whisky is absolutely an acquired taste, and it doesn’t surprise me that you didn’t enjoy the beverages (particularly the Scotch) having not really enjoyed whiskies in the past. I do want to commend you for keeping an open mind and giving it a shot anyway, and it’s great you had a fun time regardless of your aversion to the liquor.

    In the future, please send all whisky to me, please and thank you!

  6. It’s alright to water anything like that down. Down to the point where YOU enjoy it.
    I water down spirits at least 50/50. I even water down white wine!

  7. I like American whiskey and bourbon but I’m not a fan of scotch. And there are definitely some American whiskeys which are too burn-y for me.

    I’ve had bison – some places serve it instead of beef. I do think it tastes pretty similar.

  8. Well done for trying out a new experience. While I’m unfamiliar with bourbon, I have tried a few whiskies & enjoyed them. The different ones can be quite diverse from each other. And whether you have them neat, or with a splash of water alters the flavours, which I find fascinating.

    Finally, the typo on the tasting sheets made me twitch. Palette is the board on which you mix different colours paints. Palate is what you might be tasting.

  9. I quit drinking forty years ago, so….

    Even when I drank I was no fan of bourbon. I kind of liked scotch (single malt more than blended, but I could rarely afford single malt!), and I liked Canadian whiskey because it’s both smoother and sweeter—unfortunately that also makes it easier to drink too much of, and…how do I say this delicately? It doesn’t taste nearly as good on its return trip.

    I’m sorry you couldn’t find a bourbon that you liked, or even tolerated.

  10. I have a good friend who hates whiskey. Luckily for me because she went to some fancy writers’ workshop and everyone was given a bottle of Bulleit 10-year so she gave it to me. She says whiskey tastes like death. If you go to another whiskey tasting can I sit next to you and get your cast-offs?

    Seriously, though, it’s great that you went to this event knowing it wasn’t up your alley but wanted to learn about it anyway. It’s too bad someone didn’t help you figure out how to approach it. There have been plenty of good suggestions in the comments. Not that there’s any requirement that you like whiskey. People like what they like. But it’s fun to gain appreciation for complex things.

    If you get a chance, take the tour at New Riff Distilling in Newport, KY. It’s really fascinating to see the whole process.

  11. The whole time I read your review, all I could think of was the scene in Big where Josh tries caviar, spits it out, and immediately starts scrubbing at his tongue with a napkin to try to remove the taste. I genuinely appreciate (and was very entertained by) your willingness to endure some discomfort to try something new and share it with us. Thank you for that.

    I was drooling over the whole dang spread, and I’m most curious about the bison. I do enjoy various whiskies, but (as some have already said) they’re very much an acquired taste. The best lesson I learned from a whisky sommelier is that there’s no wrong way to enjoy this stuff. Dilute it, chill it with ice, pour it into the soft drink of your choice–it’s about enjoyment, not doing something an imagined “right” way.

  12. FWIW, if I’d paid $75 to attend a bourbon-pairing event and then been served single malts, rye, and one bourbon, I’d have been pissed off.

    Any liquor is mostly an acquired taste, and you kind of jumped into the deep end. My gateway drug to bourbon in general was the Revolver cocktail, a San Francisco invention that played a part in the craft cocktail renaissance still wonderfully underway. If you’re curious:

    2 oz bourbon (recommend Bulleit Rye or Michter's American)

    1/2 ounce Tia Maria coffee liqueur

    2 dashes orange bitters (recommend Regan's)

    Garnish: flamed orange peel

    — Combine bourbon, coffee liqueur and orange bitters in a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir until well-chilled, strain into a chilled coupe glass.

    — Flame an orange peel over the top of the drink to express its oils, then garnish with the peel.

  13. The first time I tried a bison burger was in North Dakota and it was yummy! Since then, I’ve often had bison burgers! The food spread sounds marvelous and the salami with fruit sounds fantastic! Also not a big fan of the hard spirits, wine is more my style. Also don’t like beer. So to each their own!

  14. Loved that you tried something completely different. I’m also appreciating the comments of folks here that know more than me about this subject. Especially nice to know that mixing and diluting are okay!

    I think on the paper for your notes you should have just written F&G as your own code for fire and gross. Lol. No one else needs to know…

    I was never into drinking straight hard alcohols either. But like you, I’d have given this a go. Thanks for the posting on it.

  15. Our local Safeway started carrying ground bison at least 15 years ago. We tried it first as an exotic, and since then have switched to it over ground beef for most things. Bison burgers are wonderful.

    And I agree with the others, both that it’s a shame that a “bourbon” tasting only had one bourbon (just be honest in the name!), and that as a whisky fan your very non-fan reactions had me grinning. Good job testing your boundaries – it’s the only way to be sure where they are.

  16. As a bourbon fan, i would love this, not to mention, a sucker for a wonderful charcuterie board. Glad it was a good experience overall.

  17. I like bourbon but I love whisky, and in particular single malt whiskies, a lot more; the first thing to know is that there is a huge variety of whiskies with totally different tastes and, most importantly to you, totally different “burn” factors.
    And the most important thing to remember is that you taste whisky in the same way you taste wine: in small sips. Dilute it with room temperature water until it’s not blasting your palate, and then do much the same things you do when you’re tasting wine, including spitting it out if you wish to, if only to stay relatively sober.

    And although the day may come when you learn that actually you do like some whiskies more or less straight, or that you have abandoned the research because life’s too short, you can still enjoy trying a range of whisky based cocktails which are very different to whisky straight.

    Keep up your commendably adventurous spirit, and it will reward you!

  18. I love that you actively signed up to do this event even though you knew you would hate the featured product, in fact did hate the product, and still had a great time. I should try more things I don’t actively love, just for the experience. Thanks for the inspiration.

  19. Oh, my dear – you had me laughing out loud at your descriptions of how the whiskeys tasted! Your writing skills just keep getting better, and I am enjoying them immensely.

    Good on you for trying something so far outside of your comfort zone, too! I’ll be the first to agree that straight-up whiskey of any kind is very much an acquired taste; even in my drinking days decades ago, I’d generally opt for a whiskey and water as opposed to neat. I do enjoy the flavor of a good whiskey, though it’s been a long, long time since I last tasted one.

    There are several restaurants in our area that offer bison-burgers, and I’ve seen it for sale in some of the high-end grocery stores, but I just can’t make myself spend that much money on food. My elder kid loves it, and maybe one day I’ll just close my eyes at the cost long enough to give it a try.

    Thanks for sharing this, Athena – can’t wait for your next review!

  20. Some day when I manage to get things done, I’m going to commission a “Palate — Palette — Pallet” triptych from an appropriate cartoonist. Then, when encountering people who can’t spell, I’ll be able to annoy them right back.

  21. A science fiction convention that once upon a time ran regularly in Toronto had tastings. I think they were actually different time slots, and there were three. And they cost money over and above the con entry. But signing up for all three gave you quite a nice discount, so that’s what I did.

    Chocolate tasting? Yum! I think we hit about six or eight different chocolate.

    Beer tasting? I’ll drinksh to thasht!

    Scotch tasting? I went through it and managed not to throw up.

    TL;DR: I totally get where Athena is coming from here.

    As for using some kind of “gateway” to get to know and love scotch, after looking at the price tags (and considering possible health effects), this is a taste that I don’t see any reason to develop. Saves me time and money! All non-habits should be so beneficial.

  22. Bison burgers are fairly common where I live in Colorado. I always forget that they aren’t always available elsewhere!

    Your description of the tobacco reminded me of when I did a chocolate tasting and one of the chocolates had some kind of tobacco “notes”. It was interesting, but definitely not my thing!

  23. A wonderful story and I’m so happy you have the chutzpah to go try something radical. Not your cuppa to be sure, but you gave it a go and wrote a wonderful piece that many can relate to (more properly, to which many can relate). It took me many years to learn how to enjoy bourbon (and scotch). I’m glad I did because when the mood is right, and a deal needs to be made, it IS the drrink with which to seal it (less properly, drink up ye rat basterd and we’ll have us undertandin’). Keep experimenting and keep us updated. Such fun!

  24. I had a nearly 30-year stretch during which I couldn’t drink whiskey of any sort at all, due to an epic New Years’ Eve and a bottle of Jack Daniels. These days, I can tolerate whiskey and have enjoyed a few, but over those three decades I became a rum guy.

    A place here in central Maryland that formerly billed itself as a pirate bar still maintains their 100+ rum selection, and I’ve been fortunate enough to sample most of them. I can heartily recommend Papa’s Pilar from Florida, either the blonde or the dark, Lyon’s Sailor’s Reserve from St. Michaels, Maryland, or Twenty Boat Spiced Rum, which I believe you can still only get in Massachusetts.

  25. You’ve mentioned that you enjoy a good cocktail now and then, but do you drink ANY spirits straight? If not, then the problem is likely that you don’t like drinking spirits by themselves, rather than disliking bourbon specifically.

    Usually the progression goes from drinking a cocktail where the spirit flavor and heat isn’t that noticible (say, a Mint Julep), to a more spirit-forward cocktail (say, a Manhattan or the Revolver mentioned above) to trying the spirit just by itself. And some people discover they just don’t like the taste of a strong drink. But trying bourbon neat because other people seem to like it is a tough ask if you haven’t worked up to it.

  26. Word nerd here. Whisky, the generic term for this style of distilled spirit, derives from Gaelic. Uisge beatha, water of life.

    Why so many words in the names? They imply possible alternatives. A single malt is made in one distillery from one batch of malted barley. “Blended” is just that — a mixture of whiskies from several distilleries wherein the rough edges are knocked off and a smoother, more generic flavor is achieved.

    The numbers? Generally, the more time spent quietly maturing in the big wooden casks, the more delicious the outcome. Thus the whisky’s name could include cask age (let’s say 14 years) and type of cask (American oak; sherry cask). A whisky may spend time in more than one type of cask, as well.

    A term like Grey Label indicates that the distillery has product lines with different characteristics & price points. Cf. Johnnie Walker Red, Black, Double Black, Gold, Platinum & Blue.

    “Reserve” means less than it used to. Once upon a time a vigneron or distiller might set aside a particularly nice vintage or brew (or a portion of it) for favored customers. Nowadays, Private Label or Reserve means “you’ll pay a little extra, but still feel good about it.” It’s like “artisanal” that way.

    Finally, other descriptors in the name are usually about the product’s place of origin & distinctive features thereof.

    I enjoyed reading your account of the evening!

  27. Firstly, good on you for making the effort to try something new and that you knew you might not like.

    Regards the use of water, ignore the idea of drops, you should use enough to make yourself happy, especially if you’re not familiar with the heat from neat spirits. As a Scotsman, I always add at least a dash of water to even a 40% whisky as it helps bring out the flavours.

    Also, as a Scotsman, I’m ashamed that Famous Grouse was what you were served. The reason it sells well here is because it’s cheap crap and nasty. Awful stuff.

    I’d suggest not giving up, lots of suggestions regards watering, use of ice etc that would allow you to ease yourself in. And even if you don’t you’ve tried a lot harder than most.

  28. I’ve been to whisk(e)y tasting events, but never to a pairing event. I generally like whisky, but I don’t have much experience with Bourbon in particular. There’s one lonely bourbon in a sea of Scotch in my liquor cabinet, with the occasional Irish whiskey sprinkled in.

    I do understand not liking the taste, it certainly is pretty harsh if you’re not used to it. Props for going anyways!

    Side note, that buffalo milk cheese looks superb. If you haven’t had the chance to try buffalo mozzarella I highly recommend it!

    I personally wouldn’t try bison meat nowadays, the main reason being that I don’t eat meat. I absolutely would have tried it when I still was though.

  29. Ed : I remember those tastings at Ad Astra on TO! I can’t recall the name of the fellow that hosted them but they were something I always budgeted for both time & money-wise. He brought back the most amazing scotches from his travels…😍

    Athena : I’m confused by them calling it a bourbon pairing when there was only 1/4 that were bourbon. Whisky pairing would have made sense..🤷🏽

    We used to have scotch & dark chocolate pairing parties in a particular community I was in years back and that’s an awesome combination (if you like Scotch, of course). As for Glen Turret being the best selling whisky in Scotland, I’d like to add that it’s probably the best-selling “blended” whiskey, at best, and that Bud Light is the best selling beer in the US. So…

  30. I love bourbon! Nothing like a pint of Southern Comfort straight from the bottle! Really gets the job done!

    I’m also in AA…


  31. It does seem odd to have Scotch and Rye at a Bourbon event. Rye is definitely an acquired taste. If you ever find yourself in central Kentucky, try the tour at Buffalo Trace, my wife and I find their Bourbon (and especially their Bourbon cream!) very good.

  32. I totally enjoyed this review. Your description of all the flavors as being ‘fire’ or ‘burn’ is my own reaction to anything with pepper in it. [Enjoy these cheesy snacks?—there’s no cheese, just”BURN BURN BURN”.]
    I don’t like alcoholic drinks, as the only alcohol I like the smell of (isopropanol) happens to be poisonous. However, you recently twisted my arm (influenced me with a review) to buy caramels and one of the flavors was “Grandpa’s Bourbon”. This was completely acceptable. Perhaps it would be a bourbon you could enjoy.

  33. Another fine review. Reminds me of going drinking with the work group in my 20s, they mostly ordering vodka, and I wanted a 7 and 7. What I got wasn’t right, so the repeat attempt brought me a glass of 7-Up and a shot glass of Seagrams. The work group looked at me appalled as I tasted the whisky neat, and approved it, astonished to learn that I actually liked the taste. Just a drop, though. The others had vodka so they could get the alcohol tasteless–I’d have preferred a non-alcoholic whisky, if there were such a thing. I used to argue over the merits of bourbon (tastes like the distillery) and whisky (tastes like the dung heap) with one friendly boss. Ah, memories.

  34. As someone who loves most whiskeys, your response doesn’t surprise me. Whiskey neat, like was being served to you, is a tough starting point. You’re being bombarded by ALL THE THINGS and yeah, it can be kinda burny.

    If you want to learn to like whiskey, start with mixed drinks like an Old Fashioned or a Manhattan. Those are still mostly whiskey, but over ice (which cuts some of the burn) and with some other flavors.

    When you find you like those sorts of things, then start thinking about tastings like you attended.

    And if you don’t like bourbon, don’t go on bourbon tours in Kentucky. It’s not worth the money because you’ll hate the tasting parts.

  35. The family of one of my daughter’s close college friends owns one of the larger liquor wholesale operations in the NYC area. The comapny frequently has similar events — whisky/rum/vodka/gin/wine/etc tasting sessions where there would be thinblefuls of various samples to try, along with an educational talk on the differences between the various samples (ie for whiskies single malt vs blend, different ages, types of wood used for the casks, etc), what to look for in describing the taste, what differences mattered and made some brands more valuable than others, and so on. For a number of years through her friend my daughter had a standing invite to the tasting/educational sessions which she took full advantage of. There were many where, like you, she went in knowing she wouldn’t like the spirit served but would have a good time and learn quite a bit about the drink. I think at the end of her time she was more knowledgeable about various spirits than most bartenders.

  36. I like whiskey over a lot of ice, but it doesn’t like me back anymore, so I very rarely indulge these days. May get another bottle of Myers dark planter’s punch rum, a tablespoon of that added to chocolate chip cookies is pleasant.

  37. I am Scottish and I drink whisky. I don’t like it neat. Try it with lots of water. 50-50 or more, especially if you don’t normally drink neat spirits. Even a drop of water releases the flavoursome volatiles. It should be a taste thing, not a fight to breathe. If your tasting guide didn’t say that, they need a shake.

  38. I may be asked to turn in my whisky club card for this… I do NOT believe someone should be expected to drink whisky/bourbon/rye/scotch according to some broadly accepted “right” way to drink it!

    The nose burns? Add water. Smells like nail polish remover? Add water.

    Burns in your mouth? Add as much water as you like. Add an ice cube (cue: nerd gasp) if you can find one.

    Now, will you perceive all the possible nuances of the flavor if you dump a bunch of water in it? Nope. But will you taste something more than fire and pain? Probably.

    Like, that Seagrass Rye is around 130 proof… 65% alcohol. That’s going to curl anyone’s nosehairs, let alone a novice. I surely wouldn’t drink that straight in anything but the tiniest of sips, and I’ve got many whiskey miles on my palate.

    Others have said, it is an acquired taste. If you are curious to acquire it, douse the flames with a fire hose for as long as you have to. The whole point is to enjoy the experience.

    Fantastic photos by the way! That charcuterie board looks mouth-wateringly good.

  39. I get where you are coming from, but selfishly, you have provided tips for some of my next purchases. I learned about single malt scotches from my time working in hotels and the learning sessions our manager had us attend to be able to talk about the products to guests. Then I became a founding member of a Robert Burns society, which brought me to haggis… Anyway, in the past couple of years I have developed a fondness for bourbons, which I once derided as being too sweet. But an essential part of my education was asking for recommendations and learning, which I was very happy to read about your process. We don’t have to like everything, but it is sure fun to try to learn about what others like and why they do. I have learned not to call things bad, but not to my taste, reminding me that there are people who do like things that I don’t and makes us all more interesting to each other. Also, thanks for the lists, going to try out at least a couple of those.

  40. I’m with you, I find the taste of bourbon, scotch, and whiskey to be nasty. I’ve tried to be open minded but it just won’t happen. Plus, while I now understand that scotch has to be from Scotland (thank you!) I don’t understand in what way bourbon, whiskey, scotch, and rye are actually different (especially since I can’t really tell the difference between them).

  41. I’m convinced that there’s a ‘whiskey gene’. Acquired taste? I’ve given it many chances. People either love it or hate it. Me? The brownest liquor I’ll drink is dark rum. Lol. It is good to challenge yourself with new tastes, well everything I guess. I’ve kept trying it as my tastes in other thing have changed. But seriously, blecccch!

  42. Bourbon? I quit drinking a few years ago, but I used to be a bourbon lover. However, drinking bourbon straight up has always been a no-go for me. I’ll try a few sips neat to get the flavor and nose straight, but they pour the remainder over ice, give it a minute to chill and dilute a little, and then enjoy.

    I have nothing against eating bison, but one of the nastiest things I’ve ever tried was bison prime rib at a Yellowstone hotel. It was a huge cut of meat, but it was so greasy it was inedible. Bison burgers, absolutely.

  43. My son is a registered (licensed?) Sommelier but works for a high-end wine and liquor distributor and is constantly giving me expensive bottles of wine (I promise that even if you have an inexperienced palate for wine, I guarantee you’ll recognize the difference between a $20 bottle and a $100 bottle!). But he also gives me fantastic bottles of expensive bourbon and Scotch. I feel like a George Thorogood song: “One Scotch, one bourbon, and one beer…”

  44. “Just because it isn’t my passion doesn’t mean it isn’t interesting to listen to someone talk in detail about theirs.”

    Yes to passionate explainers! I find this is a great tip for travel. I like to go to off-the-beaten path places and get a tour from a passionate guide. On quiet weekdays, questions will prompt them to really shine.

    Anecdote 1: at an interpretative site in Britain we discovered a costumed re-enactor. The three of us pestered him with questions for at least 15 minutes, and he was having just as much of a blast as we were.

    Anecdote 2: a small town in Scotland had a tiny building by the strait, with a volunteer explaining and selling souvenirs. I asked him about folk music. He pulled a guitar out of hiding and starting singing!

    These were only mild interests of mine, but it was such a high to experience a passionate exponent!

  45. Not a hard liquor fan either though I did go to a vodka tasting/SF fan Halloween party once. Holy moly, there are a lot of flavored vodkas out there … the only one there was universal agreement on was the PB&J one, which everyone thought was gross. Mostly I really liked that you went out there and did something you had never done–and you have a good ‘voice’ in your writing. Cheers!

  46. I’ve done wine tasting once (about 20 years ago) with other people (the only reason I did it), and it felt like a lower level of this. I didn’t understand the flavors of the wines, and didn’t like the alcohol taste, so it didn’t do much for me. It’s good that you tried it, though. The food sounds good, though it’s likely not my price point.
    It does seem like a concern that they had lots of not-bourbons at a bourbon tasting – it seems like there is lots of bourbon distilleries, and they could have found more, or said that it was a bourbon/whiskey/rye tasting event (or just a local business distillery pairing event).