In my local bourbon group, Houston Bourbon Society, I have run 5 group blind tastings. Each time it has included between 18 to 21 whiskies with 15 tasters. Why 15? Because a 750ml bottle breaks down neatly into 15 samples of 50ml each. Each taster paid the actual cost for the samples. Most of the bottles were obtained at a store for normal SRP. I sometimes included a dusty bottle from my bunker. Each tasting had a loose theme as described below. Beyond the theme, the tastings were completely blind, meaning the tasters had no clue which bottles were included the lot. The tasters picked up the samples and turned in notes on a few each week until it was completed.
The graphs below show the averages, the median, and the ranges. Thanks to Sergo Garcia for putting these together. Of note, after the second blind, I changed my scoring scale. I had used a 0 to 100 point scale, but realistically folks scored in the 60 -100 range. I decided, after consulting with a NASA scientist, that a 0 to 5 scale with 2.5 representing an average whiskey was a better system.
Blind 1 was themed Only Bourbon.
Blind 2 was themed as Any American Whiskey.
Blind 3 was themed as ‘If it’s not Straight, You must Abate’
Blind 4 was themed as ‘The best of Gulf Coast Barrel picks’ with only local area barrel picks included.
Blind 5 was themed as ‘This Isn’t Fair’ as I included some finished whiskies as well as some finished whiskies I made myself. Yes, you can do this at home without overpaying some NDP for young whiskey with additives. See my blog post on this – https://tater-talk.com/2019/03/19/make-your-own-finished-bourbon-at-home-in-the-bottle/. Note that all American finished whiskies are class type 641, whiskey specialties, and as such are allowed to add up to 2.5% by volume HCFBM, Harmless Coloring/Flavoring/Blending Material, with no disclosure required. So making these at home with bitters or other elements is no different than what can be done commercially.
If you have not tasted completely blind, I will ensure you it can be a very humbling experience. My experience has shown that price does not equate to quality. In none of these blinds did the most expensive whiskey finish on top. Drink what you like and be careful of what you pay for.
Link to view/download graphs – https://photos.app.goo.gl/eBSxUWKo1CacEX4MA