No doubt about it. If people tells me otherwise I don't believe them :-)
One good example is how Ashok from Amrut presented/introduced his range to Denmark. He said that if he just served Amrut to others, they would automatically think it couldn't be very good as it comes from India
Instead he chose to battle 4 of his whiskies against 4 from Scotland. Blind. Quite an educating experience. It showed out I had Amrut as clear winner in 3 of the battles. The 4th was a draw.
The 4 sets were :
Amrut 46% versus Glenlivet 12
Amrut Fusion versus Highland Park 12
Amrut Cask Strength versus Glenfarclas 105 (my draw)
Amrut Peated 46% versus Bowmore Legend
Surprisingly my most clear winner was Fusion against a whisky that quite often is declared the best in the world. There you go. In the room of 33 tasters, Amrut won the all catagories except the one I had as a draw which was lost by 1 vote. I thought the 105 and the cask strength Amrut was very alike and Ashok said he had trouble telling which one he thought was the Amrut of those two :-)
Well this was my most educating experience. The most impressive I have seen was done by the Ardbeg expert, fellow PLOWED member and Malt Maniac Tim Puett, the man behind www.ardbegproject.com !
We selected 4 Ardbeg 10's and wrote down the bottle codes (batch numbers!) Here is the set :
L1 045 - L5 290 - L7 143 - L7 325
We had all the codes written down and Tim nailed them all....impressive (I didn't guess anything..)
I often make some pranks with whiskies. One of the better ones was pouring a cheap blend into an empty bottle of a standard scottish single malt and then serve it.
Once I went into my kitchen, melted some sugar and divided a bottle in two. Then I coloured one of the parts. After a testing session I send round these 2 blind samples and the reactions and guesses were very different. After the truth was revealed some of the guests tried to distuingish between the two blindfolded and they said they couldn't really tell the difference..
This told me that the colour of a whisky affects how it's received with a huge impact
Last year I was on a holiday on Crete. Local customs is that you get served a Raki after a dinner. This is like a cheap Grappa. One day we visited an olive oil farm http://www.paraschakis.gr/index_en.html
Old Raki Still
They had a Raki which I found a lot more pleasant than the usually stuff I was served before during the holiday. I bought a wee bottle. Last week I served some of this blind at a whisky tasting as first go. People thought it was whisky newmake!
Oh, I gotta show you the view from that olive oil farm :
Paps of Crete!
After the Raki I served the Mekong Whisky. This is never received positive, but I noted that when I served this blind the negativeness was less!
I observed the same pattern when a very very good whisky is served blind. The positiveness is much higher when accompanied by a label.
1. Mekong Whisky
The nose is sligthly chemical , a bit like a weak solvent, not really unplesant, but no way whisky like..well rumours said this is made on 95% molasses and 5% rice with added spices, so this is really not a whisky. I have a hard time reading the label so the details is up to you to read yourself. The taste is like a very mild bitter, highly diluted becherovka comes into mind. A weak woody finish with a not-very-nice sweet touch. Nothing exciting about this, but I wouldn't describe it as flawed either. Greatest thing about this is the short finish.
It will not get a very high rating thou