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Learning by the bottle or the glass?

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Learning by the bottle or the glass?

Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Sun May 29, 2005 7:20 pm

I feel that there's just not enough whisky in a glass to be inveigled by a particular expression. In the case of love at first bite from a dram that's out of your reach; what then? Admittedly my last visit to "The Feathers" i did learn a lot i'm sure, if only i could remember what it was or how i got home. The hole in my wallet was a bit hurtfull, that i do recall as it was the next day.
It has been suggested that by tasting a variety of expressions in one sitting by the glass would be a good method nurturing an interest and i do concur. I would however prefer to go slowly and by the bottle. Knowing how fickle taste-buds can be and in fact how i often don't fully apprieciate and acknowledge all of a whisky's assets until maybe half way into a bottle.
So then my question is: Do you feel it is better to learn by the bottle or the glass?
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Postby Paul A Jellis » Sun May 29, 2005 7:36 pm

By the glass at first, the cheaper option, to see if the whisky excites you. If it does then by/buy the bottle.

I agree that you cannot fully apprieciate a particular expression with just a glass or two, but by the time you reach the end of a bottle, it should be like an old friend, with no secrets at all.

Cheers

Paul
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Bottle and Glass

Postby Wendy » Mon May 30, 2005 5:08 am

Hello Lord_Pfaffin,
I hate to be a fence sitter, but for me, both bottle and glass have their virtue. With tastings (the glass), I have the chance to contrast and compare a wide selection of whiskies at one time. Tastings have also given me the chance to try certain bottlings that I know I would otherwise not have the opportunity to try due to affordability and/or availability. With tastings, I always leave with a tidbit of information to take home with me which is my segue to the bottle.

I am far more relaxed at home sipping my dram than I am in crowds. A bottle offers the luxury of time; it gives me the chance to distinguish flavours that a tasting doesn’t fully provide. I am becoming a fan of miniatures because it offers the affordability of sampling and learning from a wider selection of whiskies and it is definitely more than a mouthful. I just wish the LCBO would carry a wider selection.

Regards,
Wendy

P.S. The Feathers is on my list of places to go. I am planning to drop into the pub in the very near future. By the sounds of it, I should leave my credit cards at home!!
8)
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Postby Deactivated Member » Mon May 30, 2005 7:46 am

I concur that both have their places. A glass will pique your interest, or not; it's a first date. A bottle is going steady. (To paraphrase the old joke, the advantage a bottle has over a girlfriend [or boyfriend, Wendy] is that it doesn't mind if you have another bottle...or several.) I'm more of a beer drinker when I'm out, but I will try a dram or two or three, if there is something of interest to be had. Sometimes it's something I know I'll never have the chance to buy (a one-nighter!), sometimes it's something I might consider buying a bottle of. The obvious drawback is that something may seem not so interesting on first dram, but might be rewarding if you settle down with the bottle. Thus a single dram, unimpressive on first taste, might cause you to pass up a lifetime of bliss. You take all these things into account as you go along.

I definitely think a few evenings of dramming is the best way to go for a newbie. The first and most important lesson is what a great variety of whiskies exist, and the second is how physically to taste them. In-depth study follows after that.

I hope I can join you all at The Feathers someday soon....
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Re: Learning by the bottle or the glass?

Postby Frodo » Mon May 30, 2005 6:21 pm

Lord_Pfaffin wrote:I feel that there's just not enough whisky in a glass to be inveigled by a particular expression. In the case of love at first bite from a dram that's out of your reach; what then? Admittedly my last visit to "The Feathers" i did learn a lot i'm sure, if only i could remember what it was or how i got home. The hole in my wallet was a bit hurtfull, that i do recall as it was the next day.
It has been suggested that by tasting a variety of expressions in one sitting by the glass would be a good method nurturing an interest and i do concur. I would however prefer to go slowly and by the bottle. Knowing how fickle taste-buds can be and in fact how i often don't fully apprieciate and acknowledge all of a whisky's assets until maybe half way into a bottle.
So then my question is: Do you feel it is better to learn by the bottle or the glass?


It sounds to me like you found out the hard way that the price per ml is much higher buying by the glass. I use this method when deciding to try something new. But if one glass isn't enough for you, then I would suggest posting a query about something you're interested in buying. I've never been shown a lemon by posters on the board, and it beats buying 4 glasses x $8 per shot to see if you like something when the bottle is $70.

Then there's always the Tasting Tower. You live in Toronto, right?

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Postby hpulley » Wed Jun 01, 2005 10:29 pm

Both have their place but I cannot 'know' a whisky properly by the glass. No way, no how. I'm not even sure I can know for certain if I want a bottle after having a glass. I find 20cL or even 35cL is required to know a whisky (and sampled over time, not all at once!!).

Harry
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Postby bamber » Thu Jun 02, 2005 11:29 am

This is a tricky one - not only as it takes more than one dram / pour to assess a whisky but also because factors such as: type of glass and how clean it is, smoke, condition of whisky, level of intoxication, lack of pipettes and the presence of 'booty' can all effect ones enjoyment.

Personally I've hardly ever enjoyed American whisky in a bar. It always tastes bitter and woody. I don't know if it's because I'm the only one who drinks it in Bristol (so it gets real old), but I've given up buying Bourbon by the glass. (Got through a quarter of a bottle of Pappy Van Winkle 20YO in a bar once - they opened the bottle for me. They did not know how much a shot was so charged me £2.40 :D)

Scotch is different. I always check the bottle is pretty full. Ask the barman to rinse the glass and only accept a snifter or tulip shaped sherry glass. I am generally then punched in the face :) However, the only place in Bristol that has interesting whiskies is *very* expensive, so I usually don't bother.

If people here like it, if JM and MJ think it's pretty good or better, I would just go out and buy the bottle. In the end you'll get a chance to try them all. It's not a race.
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Postby JimHall » Thu Jun 02, 2005 12:03 pm

To creat any test you need to make sure that the test is fair. (remember chemistry lessons at school.... Yes Mr Dewar I do remember something you taught)
Therefore my theory is this.
The same glass or type of glass should be used.
The same water (ie soft or hard)
The same surroundings. I think this is most inportant as so many times we will like a Whisky at the end of a distillery tour where really the mood or the occassion has affected ones decision on the Whisky, sometimes sub-consciously. If you were to apply that to a bar or Hotel etc. then then surrounding my sway your judgement.
The company may influence your judgement.
The Food and so on and so on.......
the point that i am making is this... creat a fair test... and it matters not if you are drinking by the glass or the bottle. I do however accept that a standard bar measure is not enough to give a well informed opinion.
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Jun 02, 2005 6:28 pm

bamber wrote:This is a tricky one - not only as it takes more than one dram / pour to assess a whisky but also because factors such as: type of glass and how clean it is, smoke, condition of whisky, level of intoxication, lack of pipettes and the presence of 'booty' can all effect ones enjoyment.


In most of the pubs I go to, lack of the presence of booty is the predominant problem. :cry: They say that bars are not good places to meet persons of the opposite sex, but where else could you expect to meet someone who shares your interest in bibulosity? :?

JH, you make good points, but in all honesty, I don't much care about making a "fair" test. I care about enjoying a dram. It's not always about empirical research. A dram in a pub is simply an informal way to enjoy whisky, company, surroundings, etc. I very much appreciate, and benefit from, the efforts of those here who take great pains to abstract a whisky's absolute characteristics, but to me, ideally, whisky is a part of life, not apart from it. There is no greater pleasure for me, for example, than to enjoy a dram after a good meal. The food I have just eaten will of course influence how I experience the dram, and that's just fine with me.

So absolutely, yes, being in the pub will have a strong influence on how you experience your drink, and you should take that into account. It leads me occasionally to a dilemma: I don't want to buy an expensive and unusual dram in a pub, because I don't think I will appreciate it properly; but that might be my only chance to experience that particular whisky at all. So you make a judgment and take your chances, or not. That's life.

As for situational appreciation--I swear the best drams I've ever had have been at the end of distillery tours (especially the 10:00am tour!). I had absolutely marvelous drams, for example, at Jura and Bunnahabhain, and have never again anywhere had drams of either that I enjoyed a tenth as much. I guess I'll have to go back and take the tour again....

So back to the original question: Do you feel it is better to learn by the bottle or the glass? My answer is both. Or either. Take (or leave) each for what it is, and do what makes the most sense to you. Of course, it would make a great difference if you happened to live around the corner from, say, the Bow Bar in Edinburgh.
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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Thu Jun 02, 2005 10:37 pm

I guess it very much depends on where and how you live. Aah i envy you Mr.T. , the last time a was in Edinburg i was too young to know and care what good whisky was or where to sip it and haven't had a chance to return as yet. Most of my work-weeks are six and a half days long lately and i just can't see any vacation-time anytime soon. Is it any wonder why i enjoy a good dram at the end of the day?
Ardaíonn ár ngrá muid féin níos airde i gcónaí!
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Postby Mr Fjeld » Thu Jun 02, 2005 11:27 pm

I'm definately learning by the bottle. Learning by the glass would be a waste of money where I live due to the cost of buying. 4cl would be aprx. £ 10,- or so. Besides, there are very few things (food & beverages) I can honestly say I dislike, and who knows if I might like it after a while anyway! At least, that's what happened with the Balvenie 15.

Skål!
Christian
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Postby patrick dicaprio » Tue Jun 07, 2005 2:40 pm

Paul A Jellis wrote:By the glass at first, the cheaper option, to see if the whisky excites you. If it does then by/buy the bottle.

I agree that you cannot fully apprieciate a particular expression with just a glass or two, but by the time you reach the end of a bottle, it should be like an old friend, with no secrets at all.

Cheers

Paul


thats the way i do it. every month or two i go buy a few bottles of swhiskies that i havent tried yet. i am not comfoprtable making notes on a whisky i only try once or twice. just getting the water right is tough enough so i usually vary it until i get it right and that means i have to do a bottle. maybe i need to practice.

on a related topic, the advice i was given with regard to water (which i quickly disregarded) was to put in roughly as much as there is whisky. i havent yet had a whisky that i felt could take this much water, maybe it is my palate. i end up putting in about 1/4 of the whisky and that seems to work for me. anyone else have thoughts on this?

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Postby Deactivated Member » Tue Jun 07, 2005 9:39 pm

I almost never use water anymore. I've become quite accustomed to full-strength--even cask-strength--whiskies; perhaps my tongue has calluses. I keep thinking I should experiment with water more, but I can't bear to do it. A watered dram tastes to me like...well, a watered dram.
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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Tue Jun 07, 2005 10:31 pm

In most cases i would hesitate to add water to a single-malt but after seeing how well watering opened-up some Glenfarclas 105 without ruining the flavour i can understand why someone might want to add water to there single. Being a "rye on the rocks" drinker for years i know the adverse affects too much water and when dealing with abv's close to 40% the tolerance to water is slim at best.
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Postby JimHall » Mon Jun 13, 2005 11:18 am

MrTattieHeid wrote:I almost never use water anymore. I've become quite accustomed to full-strength--even cask-strength--whiskies; perhaps my tongue has calluses. I keep thinking I should experiment with water more, but I can't bear to do it. A watered dram tastes to me like...well, a watered dram.


You surprise me!!!!!!
Perhaps you should change you name to "Mr Pickled Tattieheid"
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