Re: Too much elevation of personal taste?
Wow, big topic! You have me stumped on this one. Where do I stand on it? I'm not sure really. There are certainly many ways people approach the whole subject and it's what keeps me engrossed in the multitude of conversations going on in here. There's a fantastic mix of knowledge humour and hilarious hyprbole that has me hooked, and I'm just a recent entrant to this forum - still wandering through old threads with glee). I think there are the 'collectors' who have an insatiable 'thirst' for information and diversity (whether real or imagined) and really feeds of the urge to break down every whiskey into a unique set of elements, categorised, quantified and ranked according to some currently fashionable set of criteria. There are the 'romantics' who, when drawn to a certain brand, go way beyond what's actually in the bottle. It's often the story behind the brand that they're really tasting. Then perhaps there are the 'nostalgists' who are drawn to the whole history and heritage of whiskey and this is what defines their choice of brand. (Anyone have any more categories to add? - Maybe we're all a bit of a 'blend' of all these compulsions.
Pure Pot Head
One way or another we're probably a very diverse group of people in other aspects of our lives but yet come (virtually) from all over the world together out of this desire to talk about this stuff that canects us all. Some of us are nerds, some of us are snobs, some of us have completely lost the plot altogether, some of us rebel against the conformity often found in the world of whiskey, others relish and love this very same conformity as it enhances the shared journey that it offers.
Some love a whole variety of whiskies and are fascinated by how they emerged in different countries with different sets of traditions over time. Others never think beyond Single Malts and are convinced for some reason they represent the pinacle of whiskey and all other whiskies should be referenced to them. Some love a whiskey because it represents something specifically personal to them, it might simply be a brand of local origin and they happened to grow up with it and love it as a part of their world.
One thing I am a bit uncomfortable with the whole ranking and point scoring business. And as much as I admire the likes of Jim Murray and appreciate his range of experience, his passion and his depth of knowledge, I have to say, and I know this mightn't go down well, I think giving whiskies a score is a bit unsavoury. Within the greater collective of established brands out there, there are no true parameters by which whiskies can really be scored. Jim Murray has his personal ones and I know he second that, I have mine and everyone out there should have theirs. I'm not overly bothered by it, but it does niggle.
So I suppose in conclusion I would say, find what you like, enjoy it, savour it, have fun in good company with it for that what it's really meant for or enjoy a quiet contemplative time alone with it. And try out whatever comes your way whatever it tastes like just out of sheer curiosity and the resulting insight into how someone else makes their whiskey. And who knows, you might find new favourite. But ultimatey try not to get caught up in some rigid mindset that tries to dictate what's good and whats not good. The real experts are the guys who make the stuff every day.