Re: Some thoughts on Gin
- From: Doug Freyburger <dfreybur@xxxxxxxxx>
- Date: Thu, 6 Aug 2009 13:10:34 -0700 (PDT)
Dave Smith <adavid.sm...@xxxxxxxxxxxx> wrote:
Doug Freyburger wrote:
Back in college 1977 or so we tried a blind tasting. We got 3
cheap brands, Popov, Kamchatka and some local relabel. We
got 3 expensive brands, Finlandia, Absolute and Stolichnaya.
This was before the fall of the Soviet Union so the Stoli was a
hard find at the time. We put them all in the freezer over night.
No one could tell any of the cheap brands from each other. No
one could tell any of the expensive brands from each other.
About half could tell the expensive brands from the cheap
brands but about half couldn't tell the expensive from the cheap.
I was among the ones who could tell but I was surprised at how
small the difference was when compared blind side by side.
Do you really think that a bunch of college students are qualified for a
blind taste test of any type of liquor? Let's be realistic. College
students have a reputation of being consumers of large quantities of
booze, usually cheap booze, not as connoisseurs of quality liquor.
Depends on which college you're at I guess. And which students.
But I still think the results work better for most of us than results
from panels of people established as experts in the field. The
students all expected to be able to tell brands apart and were
surprised they couldn't. Blind testing made a huge difference.
Here's why I think the results matter to most folks even more than
the results from experts that get published - The students did the
test at a time in their life when they had plenty of exposure to both
expensive and cheap liquor. They had current experience. They
were not people who ended up making their living in the field and
did not end up published experts at liquor (many are now
published in their own fields). Basically they parallelled the
demographics of most of us better.
My conclusion about vodka was simple - If I want to sip it neat or
serve it to guests neat get a bottle of any premium and keep it
in the freezer. If I plan on mixing it in screwdrivers no one will
ever be able to tell what brand got mixed. Having a bottle of a
cheap brand on hand at all depends on how much vodka I go
through. At a bar a mixed drink will always use cheap vodka.
At home since I only want one bottle, get Absolute or whatever
and don't worry past having a brand good enough to have neat.
Wasting it in a mixed drink isn't a big deal not understand that
mixing it overwhelms any brand distinction. If I were to use
enough vodka to keep two bottles at home I'd want one
premium and one cheap.
This contrasts with whiskey where it's obvious brand to brand
unless it's mixed. It can be worth a premium to drink neat or
on the rocks, a medium to have with water or soda, a cheap
to mix. To me that might be Crown Royal with an ice cube,
VO and water, 7 and 7. Vodka does not benefit from that sort
of attention or diversity.
I wonder how they would do at a blind taste test of wines.
That's a key question. We had done a blind tasting of red wines
the month before with the same set of students. The results from
that were good enough to give confidence they should be able to
do other blind tastings. I like wine and I can tell the good from
the bad, the heavy from the light, but the results from the students
gave far more depth than I could produce even reading the labels.
We also tried cheeses a month after the vodka. Everyone could
tell every type of cheese. In this cheese is more like whiskey
than like vodka. Lots of difference type to type.
However, I admit to not being a vodka drinker.
I was in those years but these days I'll have a very nice beer
and be done with my drinking for most of the week.
I've never been a gin drinker so I can't comment - For gin they
torture the poor juniper tree but they don't kill it. ;^)
My wife's cousin drinks
Vodka straight or with soda water. He always has lots of good quality
liquor on hand, but he buys cheap vodka.
Your wife's cousin is implicitly agreeing with the results of the
tasting I remember from college, and putting himself in the half who
couldn't tell the cheap brands from the expensive brands.
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