I have concluded (will wonders never cease) that the aroma and taste that I like is, of all things...........RYE. Imagine that, from a rye malt.
I guess I have never experienced rye in such a concentrated way before. Nevertheless, I find this whiskey to be smooth and distinctive tasting, a bit of a change of pace.
Also, I confess that I have a serious shortcoming when it comes to being objective about taste. Because I like Anchor beers, and respect the owner for his character (not that I have met or know him personally), I am probably prone to give whatever Mr. Maytag does 'bonus' points because it is from him. This is not always a conscious thing, but I know it is there.
Likewise, the first bourbon I had that I could say was 'great' was Old Rip Van Winkle 15 YO. And, having seen some of Julian Van Winkle's posts here and elsewhere, he has become a 'real' person to me through his posts (not that I have met or know him personally). He is willing to 'put himself out there' and I admire that. Maybe other distillers do that too and I am too ignorant of them to know it.
In the same way, I give Pierre Ferrand (not that I have met or know him personally) cognacs some preference because of what I have read of old man Ferrand. He owns 75 acres of prime cognac land (in the town of Cognac, of course) and totters about the place in his beret.
Anyway, I give anything Mr. Van Winkle, Mr. Maytag, or Mr. Ferrand produce an advantage out of the box (I know I will learn of other such men). As it happens, my opinion of their products is widely shared by people who know far more than I, and each of these men do produce excellent spriits.
I have never done 'blind' tastings with bourbons, and I am sure that I would experience some surprises if I did. Maybe some day. But, alas, until that day, I confess that I will be guilty of showing favoritism to some spirits. It is also why I have a bias against Jack Daniels whiskey........they have made a cardboard figure of Jack, or whoever that old bas _ _ _ d is splashed across the billboards. My bias aside, JD at its best ain't nothing to write home about!!
In defense of myself I can only make an argument that many will consider specious..........these independent, forthright, men put something of themselves in their spirits that make them sing. It is the ingredient that the accountants and marketers never seem to understand or even care about!
I rest my case for my biases!!
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas