Not a member? - Register and login now.
All registered users can read our entire magazine archive.

Too much elevation of personal taste?

Take part in our whisky polls and votes. You can also post your own polls in this forum.

Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby evanstonwhisky » Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:39 am

I'm new to this forum, just started lurking yesterday. I want to put out there an opinion I have about whiskey. I think that there should be less emphasis in whisky being pleasing to the taste, and more about the experience and complexity of the flavour.
While I love the taste of a good whisky, too much emphasis is placed how much you "like" the whisky, how yummy it is, rather than on the complexity of the flavour itself. I think that even "bad tasting" whisky has its own spirit, its own value. After all, all of us Ardbeg 10 yr lovers certainly got over an initial "bad taste" to grow to love it.
So much work is put into the careful production of every whiskey, they (mostly) all deserve respect. They represent a particular tradition and style of whisky making. You may not think "Isle of Jura" or "Springbank 10 yr" are your most yummy personal favorites, but that should not be the important thing.
For example, "Isle of Jura" represents the only whisky from the Isle of Jura. You may not savor the flavor like you do a peach or something, but at least respect that this is the taste representing the Island. Take in the whisky "terroir". Enjoy the uniqueness of it.
This is to say, after lurking around various whisky sites and ratings from critics, I am starting to be a bit miffed by the self-centeredness, rather that "whisky-centeredness" of certain drinkers. Drink a whisky for its uniqueness and own flavour, rather than just based on your own pleasure. In this way, you can even make yourself enjoy a Jack Daniels - it's own unique flavour.
To sum up - My idea is to center your appreciation on the whisky, not on you :wink:

Let me know what any on you think of this idea. :thumbsup:
Last edited by evanstonwhisky on Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:02 am, edited 1 time in total.
evanstonwhisky
New member
 
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:06 am
Location: Evanston, Illinois (Chicago)

Re: To much elevation of personal taste

Postby Megawatt » Fri Feb 27, 2009 3:38 am

I think I know what you are driving at. People tend to hold all whiskies to a single standard. Some compare all whiskies to their personal favourite; either it is as good or it is not. Others look for a specific taste profile; they value peat smoke more than anything, or they only care for sherried malts. Some even let pre-conceived notions make up their minds for them; they won't drink blends or mainstream brands like Johnnie Walker or Glenfiddich. I personally try to find something to enjoy in every whisky rather than limiting myself to, say, bourbon or Islay malts.

However, whisky costs money so ultimately it only makes sense to drink what you enjoy. Also there is a certain element of pretension in saying how much you appreciate the complexity of Lagavulin when deep down you think it tastes like something out of your first-aid kit.

I'm also not certain that complexity is equal to quality, or is the single most desirable characteristic in a whisky. Take a blended Scotch, for instance. They say blending is an art. One might make a blend of staggering complexity, yet the flavours could be totally out of whack and the result is an awful and imbalanced product. On the other hand, you can take an old Canadian whisky which lacks in comparative complexity but the qualities it has are in such perfect harmony that it is in fact a superior drink.

The funny thing about whisky is that you can't even trust your own impressions of it. You try a whisky and deem it undrinkable; a year later it might rank in your top ten.
Megawatt
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 174
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:58 pm

Re: To much elevation of personal taste

Postby evanstonwhisky » Fri Feb 27, 2009 4:13 am

That's true - complexity does not equal better. Glenfiddich 12 tasted very simple, somehow less expensive. It's still good though. Macallan 12 was more floral- less heavy fruity, more complex - more expensive tasting. Glenmorangie 10 is also more complex. So though Glenfiddich was not as wonderful as the others, from time to time I still enjoy the simplicity and comfort of the Glenfiddich, the starter malt.

It's true though, that simplicity may not neccesarily indicate cheaper, or not as "wonderful". I'm sure there are expensive, complex brands that fall off from too much going on at once.

This is a [i]complex[i] problem I guess. :roll:

Do you ever just go for a cheaper, simple sm? Is cheaper generally simpler or not?
evanstonwhisky
New member
 
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:06 am
Location: Evanston, Illinois (Chicago)

Re: To much elevation of personal taste

Postby borgom » Fri Feb 27, 2009 7:44 am

Yes I think it's fair to say don't snob any whisky just because it's not to your taste (or because others told you it's bad) but it is practically impossible to be completely subjective. Personally I don't mind people's opinions, they can sometimes be quite entertaining even if I don't necessarily agree with them.
borgom
Gold Member
 
Posts: 715
Joined: Thu Aug 07, 2008 2:37 am
Location: Australia

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby scotchdrinker » Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:19 pm

I do agree with that to a point. People hear something or read something and close their mind to something immediately even they could possible like it. Or how your palate changes over time. I had an instance where I didn't like Oban 14yo when I had it years ago and I just had it a couple weeks ago and I like it a lot. And, everyone always talks up how good Talisker 10yo is and I tried it and I didn't like it. So it is very subjective when someone likes something or not, at least in my opinion. I do agree with Megawatt though, Whisky is expensive you should definitely drink what you like. I think some people are snobs about it and drink something for status and others drink whatever it is they like no matter what other people think.
User avatar
scotchdrinker
Silver Member
 
Posts: 467
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 4:24 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: To much elevation of personal taste

Postby bankerjoe » Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:22 pm

Megawatt wrote:Also there is a certain element of pretension in saying how much you appreciate the complexity of Lagavulin when deep down you think it tastes like something out of your first-aid kit.


This is a great line. =Þ

My sentiment is drink what you like, don't drink what you don't. Just make sure to be careful and be objective. Just because you don't like something doesn't make it bad. I have heard similar arguments in beer, about this "acquired taste" which is something I never understood. My girlfriend has said it best when tasting beers that I have thoroughly enjoyed, but she perhaps has not (hoppy beers come to mind): "This is a well done beer. Although it isn't too my tastes,and I could never have a whole one (serving), I might steel another sip or two of yours." She can appreciate the end product and the effort, even though it isn't a "pleasurable" or "yummy" taste.

Consequently, palates do grow and change over time. Another reason to remain objective. Beer stuff comes to mind again, regarding gueuzes and lambics of Belgium. I used to not like the stuff many years ago, now I love them. The same transition is currently occurring with my girlfriend.
bankerjoe
New member
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 6:53 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: To much elevation of personal taste

Postby scotchdrinker » Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:36 pm

bankerjoe wrote:My sentiment is drink what you like, don't drink what you don't. Just make sure to be careful and be objective. Just because you don't like something doesn't make it bad. .


I couldn't agree with you more. Drink what you like. I also agree that peoples palates are always changing.

I have had a lambic from time to time I like them a lot from the first time I had them. Weird though cause I am not much of a sweet beer kinda guy. But i definitely like them.
User avatar
scotchdrinker
Silver Member
 
Posts: 467
Joined: Thu Jan 15, 2009 4:24 pm
Location: New Jersey

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby Rob B » Fri Feb 27, 2009 6:55 pm

Is drinking whisky and posting about the experience on this forum to be treated as sharing a pleasure with like minded people or as an academic discipline?

I ask because as a newcomer to drinking single malts, I have yet to develop the breadth of experience and descriptive capacity required to be able to articulate and discuss the complexity of a given whisky.

Nobody becomes an expert on whisky overnight and on that basis I do think that at the moment it is reasonable for a newbie like me to couch my impression of a whisky in simple terms linked to pleasure. As my experience grows, then so too will the complexity of my descriptions. We all have to start somewhere.

Whatever the outcome to this discussion, I intend to keep drinking the stuff as I like it, and I am broad minded enought to appreciate that a whisky I dislike at the moment may well become one I like in the future.

Rob
Rob B
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 147
Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2008 8:27 pm
Location: Co Down, Northern Ireland

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby The Third Dram » Fri Feb 27, 2009 7:54 pm

evanstonwhisky wrote:My idea is to center your appreciation on the whisky, not on you.

I tend to be an optimist generally. And as regards whiskies and other spirits, this trait usually leads me to seek out positive over negative aspects. Yes, our personal tastes do change over time owing to exposure to a wider range of products as well as to alterations in our 'moment-to-moment' likes and dislikes. With this in mind, I always find it refreshing to not only recall what brought me to initially appreciate these sorts of drinks (the 'voyage of discovery' implicit in experiencing alcoholic beverages from different regions and localities being a prime element of this), but to also revisit some of those whiskies that spurred on my interest in the first place.
User avatar
The Third Dram
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2396
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:38 pm

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby bankerjoe » Fri Feb 27, 2009 7:59 pm

Rob B wrote:Is drinking whisky and posting about the experience on this forum to be treated as sharing a pleasure with like minded people or as an academic discipline?


I guess it depends on who you ask. Quite frankly, I do not feel that the two ways of approach are mutually exclusive.

In my own life, I have always taken an intense "academic" approach as it were. I am constantly trying to learn about everything that I can; I have been told I tend to approach life with a certain intensity (read: I am a nerd).

I was told once (by a psych major; take it as you will) that my personality leads me to look at the world and people in teacher/student type relationships. Personally, I don't think she is incorrect.

I guess that is the long way of saying "It is up to you."
bankerjoe
New member
 
Posts: 41
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 6:53 pm
Location: Philadelphia, PA

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby rtp3 » Fri Feb 27, 2009 8:50 pm

My personal philosophy has developed from behind a bar and so it is based on the goal of up-sales. In other words, if I know that you like a particular beverage ... lager, ale, whisky, vodka, et al ... then I will try to move you to a different (and more expensive) one. That is one reason that I developed my knowledge of whisky (and alcohol) in general.

From that perspective, I agree that every whisky has its own worth. Yet, from my experience, that worth is not always flavor based (sometimes it is based on cost and/or value). So, as a bartender and a manager, I had to take the expectations of a customer and mold it so that they would spend more money. A perfect example was always the lager-swilling punter that I would up-sale into a bottle of Cotswold Lager - http://www.cotswoldbrewingcompany.co.uk/. Whisky worked the same way - move a customer from a Glenfiddich to a Balvenie.

At tastings that I run, I encourage the attendees to develop their own tastes. In short, I am creating the ideal customer for a bartender, they will know what they like and be able to express that to someone else. But, they don't want to analyze their drinks!

That is where a community like this one comes into the picture. I view this community as an academic community. As part of that, we speak a specialized language, and analyze our subject to make distinctions that the average person does not understand (or may understand but may not have been able to determine for themselves). So, part of our duty should be to try to understand each whisky (or whiskey) as an individual spirit and to try to offer some guidance to non-specialists about whether they will or will not like it.
rtp3
New member
 
Posts: 17
Joined: Thu Feb 26, 2009 6:01 pm
Location: Oxford, UK

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby Mr Fjeld » Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:22 pm

Rob B wrote:Is drinking whisky and posting about the experience on this forum to be treated as sharing a pleasure with like minded people or as an academic discipline?

I ask because as a newcomer to drinking single malts, I have yet to develop the breadth of experience and descriptive capacity required to be able to articulate and discuss the complexity of a given whisky.

Nobody becomes an expert on whisky overnight and on that basis I do think that at the moment it is reasonable for a newbie like me to couch my impression of a whisky in simple terms linked to pleasure. As my experience grows, then so too will the complexity of my descriptions. We all have to start somewhere.

Whatever the outcome to this discussion, I intend to keep drinking the stuff as I like it, and I am broad minded enought to appreciate that a whisky I dislike at the moment may well become one I like in the future.

Rob

I think Rob said it very well. Also, I sometimes feel like dissecting a whisky and sometimes I don't. I don't always have to split my tasting impressions into atoms to legitimise the fact that I like it. Very often I'll wait to pass any judgement after just having opened a bottle. Well into the next drams a week later I'll share my impressions. That is pretty much the only occasion where I'll share my notes. However, if you see me repeating my notes on Caol Ila 12 please excuse me - because I love it so much!

I hope you don't get me wrong and it's a good question but I feel "each to his own" is the way to go. It's a learning process and it takes lots of practice - thank God - and lots of whisky :thumbsup:
Mr Fjeld
Cask Strength Gold Member
 
Posts: 4249
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 2:08 pm

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby LagaDrinker » Fri Feb 27, 2009 10:56 pm

Collector57 wrote:
Mr Fjeld wrote:I hope you don't get me wrong and it's a good question but I feel "each to his own" is the way to go.


Quite right - just as with so many things whisky.
If you want to just enjoy what you enjoy, feel free - and share your pleasure.
If you want to explore even things you may not enjoy, and treat it as an academic exercise, feel free to do that also.

Very well put
User avatar
LagaDrinker
Gold Member
 
Posts: 708
Joined: Tue Jun 24, 2008 11:46 am
Location: East Anglia, UK

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby dramtastic » Sat Feb 28, 2009 12:31 am

evanstonwhisky wrote:
This is to say, after lurking around various whisky sites and ratings from critics, I am starting to be a bit miffed by the self-centeredness, rather that "whisky-centeredness" of certain drinkers. Drink a whisky for its uniqueness and own flavour, rather than just based on your own pleasure. In this way, you can even make yourself enjoy a Jack Daniels - it's own unique flavour.
To sum up - My idea is to center your appreciation on the whisky, not on you :wink:

Let me know what any on you think of this idea. :thumbsup:



It seems to me you feel its ok to be opinionated about whisky drinkers, but not ok for the drinkers to be opinionated about whiskys.
I for one expect members of a whisky forum to be passionate about the subject and however that passion is expressed is fine by me.
User avatar
dramtastic
Cask Strength Gold Member
 
Posts: 3476
Joined: Tue Jan 20, 2009 9:07 am

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby evanstonwhisky » Sat Feb 28, 2009 12:40 am

That is true - if you have no strong words or dislike or like, the passion can go away. The description gets to vague - arguing about whisky makes it fun. I often want a clear idea if somebody likes the whisky or not. This was just my own rant on a certain angle or the idea of tasting - I don't hold this opinion of relativity to the extreme.

So yeah - I should just allow bold condemnations or judgements or whisky to pass my mind as part of the spirit of whisky appreciation. Drinking whisky can make you very boisterous in opinion anyhow, a state in which I'm sure many member post on this forum.

So boast and bash away, I conclude after the above contributions. :smoke:
evanstonwhisky
New member
 
Posts: 90
Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2009 2:06 am
Location: Evanston, Illinois (Chicago)

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby Wave » Sat Feb 28, 2009 3:24 am

I drink for my own personal pleasures ...not yours. :evil:
User avatar
Wave
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1860
Joined: Wed Sep 06, 2006 6:57 am
Location: Illinois, USA

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby Sherried Malt » Sat Feb 28, 2009 2:40 pm

evanstonwhisky wrote:...after lurking around various whisky sites and ratings from critics, I am starting to be a bit miffed by the self-centeredness, rather that "whisky-centeredness" of certain drinkers. Drink a whisky for its uniqueness and own flavour, rather than just based on your own pleasure. In this way, you can even make yourself enjoy a Jack Daniels - it's own unique flavour.
To sum up - My idea is to center your appreciation on the whisky, not on you :wink:


I am baffled by this thinking. Why drink if not for pleasure?? I'm open to try new things, but once I've tried something and found it not to my liking, why waste the time and energy to make myself like it? Seems rather perverse to me. I'd rather move on. Life's too short...

That said, if your decision is to find the whisky's hidden charms, that's fine too. Everyone"s free to choose.
User avatar
Sherried Malt
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1134
Joined: Mon Feb 20, 2006 4:32 pm
Location: New York, United States

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby The Third Dram » Sat Feb 28, 2009 4:49 pm

evanstonwhisky wrote:I often want a clear idea if somebody likes the whisky or not.

I think it's fair to say that, at times, we all tend to want to 'simplify' things for ourselves, and have someone else come straight out with this sort of definitive opinion. However, short of downgrading a whisky due to obvious and pronounced faults, the matter of trying to come to grips with the merits (or lack thereof) of a particular whisky through another's take on it (especially through those ubiquitous numerical 'scores') isn't, in any way, a guaranteed guideline... as we are all aware.
User avatar
The Third Dram
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2396
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:38 pm

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby Megawatt » Sun Mar 01, 2009 5:10 pm

Sherried Malt wrote:I am baffled by this thinking. Why drink if not for pleasure?? I'm open to try new things, but once I've tried something and found it not to my liking, why waste the time and energy to make myself like it? Seems rather perverse to me. I'd rather move on. Life's too short...

That said, if your decision is to find the whisky's hidden charms, that's fine too. Everyone"s free to choose.


But in a way, don't we all make ourselves like alcohol, be it whisky, wine, or beer? I question whether any of us truly enjoyed our first sips of booze. I'm sure a lot of us have had the experience of our parents letting us sip their win, knowing that we will hate it. But later in life, we came to suspect that there is more to it than we first thought, and give it another chance.

I know for myself, it wasn't a revelation where I suddenly started to like drinking straight whisky. I think we'd all agree that it is an acquired taste; how else to acquire a taste for something than to force yourself to give it a chance, little by little? A year ago I nearly gagged on Lagavulin. Now it is one of my most prized malts.

On the other hand, most of us are human beings, not whisky-analyzing machines, so of course our impressions will be subjective based on our personal tastes.
Megawatt
Bronze Member
 
Posts: 174
Joined: Fri Nov 16, 2007 11:58 pm

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby The Third Dram » Mon Mar 02, 2009 3:22 am

Megawatt wrote:...how else to acquire a taste for something than to force yourself to give it a chance, little by little?

Or to be re-exposed to it once again after a long interval.
One's taste preferences do change and/or grow in range over time.
I used to detest grapefuit when I was a youngster.
Now I can't get enough of it. :wink:
User avatar
The Third Dram
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2396
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:38 pm

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby LeoDLion » Mon Mar 02, 2009 2:09 pm

There is also something called an acquired taste. The very first time I have Laphroiag, it tasted like turpentine. After having a dram every night for 5 days, on the fifth day, I was starting to like it. Before the bottle was finished, I developed a great appeal for the strong peaty taste of Laphproiag. And Ardbeg followed, then Lag, etc.

So if a whisky does not taste to your liking at first, give it a chance and some time.
User avatar
LeoDLion
Gold Member
 
Posts: 664
Joined: Wed Jun 27, 2007 8:49 pm
Location: Texas, US

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby Reggaeblues » Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:14 pm

Sometimes an appreciation of a whisky is enhanced by drinking in company, and sharing one's impressions.

i recently bought a Bowmore 12. The last I bought was years ago, when the "label" was a decal on the bottle. It seemed like a totally different whisky to my tastes, and at first I wasn't impressed.

Then, last week my 90 YO dad was over, and we began our "tasting" with this, as he used to love it. Sharing his enjoyment of the dram opened me up to it, and I saw it anew...I "got " it, as it was, and not according to my expectation of something i'd tasted years earlier.

It was also from a bottle that ws emptier than when new, and i swear this improves so many whiskies!

We ended the night with a 23|YO| cask strength Bowmore which I thought was the b*llocks. My dad much preferred the 12!!

Good thread!
Reggaeblues
Double Gold Member
 
Posts: 1945
Joined: Sat Sep 16, 2006 2:42 pm
Location: Reigate, UK

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby kyorke1 » Mon Mar 02, 2009 8:50 pm

Reggaeblues wrote:It was also from a bottle that ws emptier than when new, and i swear this improves so many whiskies!

We ended the night with a 23|YO| cask strength Bowmore which I thought was the b*llocks. My dad much preferred the 12!!


Yes, particularly the Bowmore 12 I find. Also I have had Paddy open and about a third full for what must be over two years now and having that the other night was fantastic. This doesn't apply across the board though, Laphroaig 15 and HP12 are such examples which I found out the hard way :(
User avatar
kyorke1
Silver Member
 
Posts: 340
Joined: Wed May 28, 2008 10:07 pm
Location: Rugby, UK

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby The Third Dram » Sun Mar 08, 2009 3:17 pm

Reggaeblues wrote:It was also from a bottle that was emptier than when new, and i swear this improves so many whiskies!

I do believe I'm experiencing this very phenomenon with the new Bowmore 18 Year Old. It seems to change its 'colours' each and every time I pour it.
User avatar
The Third Dram
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2396
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:38 pm

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby Ganga » Mon Mar 09, 2009 5:56 pm

I have really noticed the maturation of my palate and nose over the last 2 years. It isn't something where I think I enjoy the aromas and palate more/less but rather the ability to sift through what is there.

I would also put forth that each person tends to grow in their experience. Many times I've noted people that could identify that something was there, they just didn't know what. It is a matter of taking the time to smell and taste your foods and environment.

I think Wave makes a good point, but sometimes I do find that I drink for others pleasure too. It is a good thing to sit around and share your thoughts. First, you have the pleasure of your friends' presence. Secondly, you can gain a different perspective to the whisky. Thirdly, you can provide a different perspective to others.
Ganga
Matured cask
 
Posts: 23552
Joined: Thu Oct 12, 2006 11:57 pm
Location: Sylmar, CA

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby UUNetBill » Mon Mar 09, 2009 7:13 pm

Ganga wrote:I have really noticed the maturation of my palate and nose over the last 2 years. It isn't something where I think I enjoy the aromas and palate more/less but rather the ability to sift through what is there.

I would also put forth that each person tends to grow in their experience. Many times I've noted people that could identify that something was there, they just didn't know what. It is a matter of taking the time to smell and taste your foods and environment.

I think Wave makes a good point, but sometimes I do find that I drink for others pleasure too. It is a good thing to sit around and share your thoughts. First, you have the pleasure of your friends' presence. Secondly, you can gain a different perspective to the whisky. Thirdly, you can provide a different perspective to others.

Ganga - couldn't agree more. Recently, while at a friend's shop, he poured me a glass of something I'd not had before - Aquavit - and me, being used to more mainstream US spirits, couldn't place the dominant flavor. I had it on the tip of my tongue - literally! - but couldn't identify it. When he told me it was caraway, I was like, yep, that's it! If not for his prompting, I'd probably still be wondering what that flavor was!!
User avatar
UUNetBill
Silver Member
 
Posts: 424
Joined: Thu May 15, 2008 1:18 am
Location: Colorado Springs, CO, USA - at the foot of Pikes Peak!

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby Plastiquehomme » Wed Jul 29, 2009 3:09 am

I think there are two issues at play here.

One one level, everyone has different preferences, and no one should feel that their preference should change based on other people's preference. You like what you like, and nothing anyone tells you can (or should) change that.

On another level, I feel that generally far too often, if you try to get into an intelligent debate about a subject (I don't just mean Whisky here; films, music, literature, food, etc are subject to this too) a person who is not very well informed will fall back on the hoary old chestnut of "Everyone's entitled to their opinion, and everyone's is just as valid".

In a way this is true; everyone who has experienced something is entitled to an opinion about it. And, subjectively speaking, each individual's opinion is probably of roughly equivalent value (to themselves). However it is a facetious line of reasoning when applied to a debate about a subject. Say that both myself and Jim Murray sat down to have a dram. Say I thought it was great, and he thought it was average at best. I'm a whisky novice, he is an avowed expert. Should his insistence that it's average mean I should think it average? Of course not, it's my experience. However, I couldn't even begin to argue that my opinion is as noteworthy, important, or informed as his. Someone listening to the debate would be wise to take his advice over mine, because his opinion is far more informed and nuanced.

So I guess I think that while everyone is rightfully attached to their own opinion, in a forum such as this where we are debating, some people's opinions do count for more, and some for less. And I guess in such a forum, over time any member will find members with whom they agree more than others, and of course those members opinions will hold more weight in any decision making. But objectively speaking, the more experienced and educated a person is in a field, the more valid their opinion will be in that field (in the vast majority of cases).
User avatar
Plastiquehomme
New member
 
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:13 am

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby The Third Dram » Wed Jul 29, 2009 1:17 pm

Plastiquehomme wrote:So I guess I think that while everyone is rightfully attached to their own opinion, in a forum such as this where we are debating, some people's opinions do count for more, and some for less. And I guess in such a forum, over time any member will find members with whom they agree more than others (my bold) , and of course those members opinions will hold more weight in any decision making. But objectively speaking, the more experienced and educated a person is in a field, the more valid their opinion will be in that field (in the vast majority of cases).

A fair statement.

That said, it's probably just as important (hence my emphasizing the 'agree' facet quoted above) to find an individual acknowledged in the field with whom one's personal tastes correspond quite closely. Even very well known whisky aficionados/experts/writers can differ substantially as regards their opinions of various spirits.
User avatar
The Third Dram
Triple Gold Member
 
Posts: 2396
Joined: Wed Dec 31, 2008 8:38 pm

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby Plastiquehomme » Wed Jul 29, 2009 10:03 pm

The Third Dram: That's very very true. From what I can tell I agree very much with Michael Jackson's assessment of Single Malts more than other commentators I have read. It's like with film, there are certain critics with whom I find my tastes map very closely, and I can generally assume that if they like a film, I will too. There are other film critics (Roger Ebert comes to mind) with whom I often disagree, but who always has an incredibly interesting, informed and reasoned opinion.

It's possible and coherent for someone to have the opinion that Uncle Jim's Illegal Still Whisky/Paint Thinner is tastier than a Balvenie Doublewood (to them), I'm fairly comfortable saying that, if they try to shift from the statement "I like Uncle Jim's better" to "Uncle Jim's is a better whisky" that their statement is objectively wrong. I think objectively the Balvenie is better, but that it's just the case that sometimes people simply don't like what is better. I like The Lord of the Rings films better than (say) Casablanca; I have watched them more times, and gain more pleasure from them, but accept that Casablanca is an objectively better film.

I guess while everyone is entitled to their opinion, that doesn't mean that there aren't objective facts of the matter (though we may not know what these are)
User avatar
Plastiquehomme
New member
 
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:13 am

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby Mr Fjeld » Thu Jul 30, 2009 1:34 pm

The idea of being "objective" in a forum concerned with something as subjective as taste is a little strange. The participants have different abilities, preferences and when two people describe what they find they may not even agree on the concepts. I find bananas but you find strawberries? And if we are to use an "objective" language and/or methods........who of us are able to command such a language? Will I do so after 4000 posts, or do you have to attend a training class? Or maybe one should analyse single malt for the next decade before being acknowledged as a "pro" . Further, we come from different cultural backgrounds which will enable us to focus on different sensory characteristics. I would not disagree if our Indian members shouts curry and they in turn should not disqualify my findings on smoked and airdried ham.

If describing whisky is to use an objective method only then very few of us can be thought of as good enough simply because we do not command the language or method required. It's like demanding we speak Urdu when very few of us know the language. However, if one means objective to be simply reasoning and arguing about qualitative aspects then I agree.

Do I have to be an engineer or racing driver to enjoy driving a car? Does it make sense to join a whisky forum and discuss whisky with the best of my abilities with others? Yes! Who knows, I might even learn something.
Mr Fjeld
Cask Strength Gold Member
 
Posts: 4249
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 2:08 pm

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby Plastiquehomme » Fri Jul 31, 2009 12:20 am

Mr Fjeld wrote:If describing whisky is to use an objective method only then very few of us can be thought of as good enough simply because we do not command the language or method required. It's like demanding we speak Urdu when very few of us know the language. However, if one means objective to be simply reasoning and arguing about qualitative aspects then I agree.

Do I have to be an engineer or racing driver to enjoy driving a car? Does it make sense to join a whisky forum and discuss whisky with the best of my abilities with others? Yes! Who knows, I might even learn something.


I don't think you need to have any knowledge or specialised vocabulary to talk about Whisky. But there is certainly a specialised language and set of concepts around it (a few years ago if someone referred to peaty whisky I would have had no clue to what they referred), and I think by using this terminology does make for much clearer and more informative communication. Peatiness, for example, does refer to something objective and measurable. Smokiness might do the same job, but I am not sure I would simply accept that peaty= smoky. So while a layperson can communicate concepts about whisky, they maybe can't, necessarily, communicate them as clearly and unambiguously.

I agree that you absolutely do not need to be an engineer or racing driver to enjoy driving a car. Further, I believe your enjoyment of driving that car is just as valid and intense as theirs. However, their opinions on whether it is a good car are highly likely to be more valid than (say) mine (I know very little about cars).

I am totally ranting, so I apologise if I am irritating anyone. But I get a total bee in my bonnet about the postmodernist notion of everything being subjective, there being no objective truths, and all opinions being equal. I agree that everyone has subjective opinions, they are all valid, and they are all entitled to be expressed. Indeed the world would be a boring place if we all only liked "the best" things, or agreed on whatthey were. But I don't think any of this takes away the fact that there is (or it is possible that there is) an objective, measurable matter of fact in most matters of taste. We may not have the tools or inclination to measure it, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. Maybe what I really need to do is try to stop believing in Platonic forms :D

Anyway, I really need to /rant
User avatar
Plastiquehomme
New member
 
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:13 am

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby Liechtenstein » Fri Jul 31, 2009 12:52 am

Plastiquehomme wrote: I get a total bee in my bonnet about the postmodernist notion of everything being subjective, there being no objective truths, and all opinions being equal.


Agreed. Objective truth does exist and the West was largely built on this. Sadly, postmodernism is winning the day...Calcutta, here we come!

:o
User avatar
Liechtenstein
Silver Member
 
Posts: 330
Joined: Sun Oct 19, 2008 6:40 pm
Location: Montreal suburb, Québec, Canada

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby Mr Fjeld » Fri Jul 31, 2009 9:33 am

Please excuse me for this rather long and boring post. Clearly, I must aiming for the nerd awards with this one:

Plastiquehomme wrote: I agree that you absolutely do not need to be an engineer or racing driver to enjoy driving a car. Further, I believe your enjoyment of driving that car is just as valid and intense as theirs. However, their opinions on whether it is a good car are highly likely to be more valid than (say) mine (I know very little about cars).

Yet, you will find "good" cars which fail in the market and "lesser good" cars being very popular? Same with film and music; albums receiving good reviews - and films too - yet they never do well (excluding art films and cult directors).

I am totally ranting, so I apologise if I am irritating anyone.

No problem, it's an interesting discussion.

But I get a total bee in my bonnet about the postmodernist notion of everything being subjective, there being no objective truths, and all opinions being equal. I agree that everyone has subjective opinions, they are all valid, and they are all entitled to be expressed. Indeed the world would be a boring place if we all only liked "the best" things, or agreed on whatthey were. But I don't think any of this takes away the fact that there is (or it is possible that there is) an objective, measurable matter of fact in most matters of taste. We may not have the tools or inclination to measure it, but that doesn't mean it isn't there. Maybe what I really need to do is try to stop believing in Platonic forms :D

I wouldn't blame postmodernism. After all it's the best thing to happen since sliced bread........and that was good right? Seriuosly, PM in the west was a reaction to both marxist orientated ideologies of the sixties and seventies as well as strict formal science - and the main domain of postmodernism were the social sciences and philosophy. I don't think PM set out to dispute a priori knowledge but rather to shift focus away from absolutism of the postwar period in art, litterature and social science. There is much to say about postmodernism and typical shortcomings of postmodern theories such as relativism taken too far, but they are not flavour of the month any longer and haven't been since the early part of the nineties. The good things introduced by PM would be for example "subjectivity" as there isn't room for personal experience in science - yet in scientific philosophy it's a problem - a problem most scientist tend to ignore almost in a religious rather than scientific manner. It's like pretending there isn't a problem although it's clearly there; lets not think about it and maybe it'll go away. Most of the hardcore science guys won't acknowlege litterature, history or social science anyway so one could very well just exclude those as scientific.
But, one of the interesting aspects of PM is in my opinion that they do indeed seek objectivity - but rather objectivity through subjectivity - instead of the usual presenting of "scientific facts". An example would be from Social Anthropology - also called British Anthropology where the method of writing oneself into the text makes the reader aware of who the person is; where does he come from, what cultural baggage does he bring, how can his understanding of his experience be understood etc. In many ways this is a good way - and perhaps the only way to reach objectivity where a strictly scientific approach has its shorcomings. You just cannot measure litterature - it's all about interpretation.

Unfortunately people love to use postmodernism as the republicans use the word "liberal" with disdain. It has a different meaning than most people would expect (I'm not accusing you of this :) )

I think we should allow people to feel free to explain or analyse their whisky if they so wish to - or not.
Mr Fjeld
Cask Strength Gold Member
 
Posts: 4249
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 2:08 pm

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby Plastiquehomme » Fri Jul 31, 2009 2:44 pm

Mr Fjeld wrote:Please excuse me for this rather long and boring post. Clearly, I must aiming for the nerd awards with this one:


No, it's a really well thought out and interesting response. It's really nice, and rare, to find someone online who really takes the time to think about something you posted and have something interesting to say about it


Mr Fjeld wrote: Yet, you will find "good" cars which fail in the market and "lesser good" cars being very popular? Same with film and music; albums receiving good reviews - and films too - yet they never do well (excluding art films and cult directors).


That is true. But for me (and I'm a part time arrogant, elitist snob) that just means that the public has a failure of taste. For example, I just went and saw a great, thought provoking, well made, and morally complex vampire film (Thirst) at the New Zealand International Film Festival. But what Vampire film do the majority of people watch? Twilight. (And I see the irony of someone who called himself an elitist snob talking about vampire films. A proper elitist snob wouldn't lower themselves to that level :) )


Mr Fjeld wrote: I wouldn't blame postmodernism. After all it's the best thing to happen since sliced bread........and that was good right? Seriuosly, PM in the west was a reaction to both marxist orientated ideologies of the sixties and seventies as well as strict formal science - and the main domain of postmodernism were the social sciences and philosophy. I don't think PM set out to dispute a priori knowledge but rather to shift focus away from absolutism of the postwar period in art, litterature and social science. There is much to say about postmodernism and typical shortcomings of postmodern theories such as relativism taken too far, but they are not flavour of the month any longer and haven't been since the early part of the nineties. The good things introduced by PM would be for example "subjectivity" as there isn't room for personal experience in science - yet in scientific philosophy it's a problem - a problem most scientist tend to ignore almost in a religious rather than scientific manner. It's like pretending there isn't a problem although it's clearly there; lets not think about it and maybe it'll go away. Most of the hardcore science guys won't acknowlege litterature, history or social science anyway so one could very well just exclude those as scientific.
But, one of the interesting aspects of PM is in my opinion that they do indeed seek objectivity - but rather objectivity through subjectivity - instead of the usual presenting of "scientific facts". An example would be from Social Anthropology - also called British Anthropology where the method of writing oneself into the text makes the reader aware of who the person is; where does he come from, what cultural baggage does he bring, how can his understanding of his experience be understood etc. In many ways this is a good way - and perhaps the only way to reach objectivity where a strictly scientific approach has its shorcomings. You just cannot measure litterature - it's all about interpretation.

Unfortunately people love to use postmodernism as the republicans use the word "liberal" with disdain. It has a different meaning than most people would expect (I'm not accusing you of this :) )

I think we should allow people to feel free to explain or analyse their whisky if they so wish to - or not.


OK, cards on the table. I am definitely guilty of what you say about postmodernism - I do sometimes use it as an intellectual kickabout, kinda like republicans misuse liberal. And I would admit, I probably don't understand it as well as I'd like to think I do. I do think that postmodernism has introduced some welcome and fantastic concepts into the intellectual landscape. I also would argue that it has been important not so much in its effect on science, but as a necessary counterpoint to science. I might have it wrong, but I've always understood that postmodernism was, in a sense, a response to the absolutist notions of science (and of course, art, literature, etc). I guess (coming from a rigorously analytical university philosophy background) I am not hugely up to the play with more modern postmodernist developments. I had generally understood the theory as effectively attempting to undermine the notion of objectivity, and encouraging individuals to cling to their subjective experience. This notion of objectivity through subjectivity is interesting. I have encountered a little social anthropology (my wife has studied some), but have I understood you right that by the author revealing their background, biases, prejudices, you can understand that their writing comes with all that built in, and you can assess it from that understanding? Thats a really interesting idea, though it relies on extremely accurate and fulsome self reflection maybe.

I guess I don't object to post modernism as such; more the extremes that it was taken to in some quarters. It's intellectually lazy of me, but it's fun to rip into a theory that denies the possibility of objective truth. Even if you can't disprove it, it's fun :). BUt it is unfair to single out postmodernism. I don't like socialism taken to extremes (true communism), yet I don't whine on about how lame socialism is; indeed I consider myself fairly left wing.
User avatar
Plastiquehomme
New member
 
Posts: 34
Joined: Fri Jul 24, 2009 9:13 am

Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?

Postby Mr Fjeld » Fri Jul 31, 2009 4:27 pm

Welcome to the forum Plastiquehomme :) A nice start!
Mr Fjeld
Cask Strength Gold Member
 
Posts: 4249
Joined: Thu Feb 03, 2005 2:08 pm

Next

Return to Whisky Poll

Whisky gift and present finder