Tasting and drinking bourbon are different from each other. If you desire to get intoxicated, go ahead and gulp that spirit until the very last drop. But if you want to fully experience the flavor notes of oak, vanilla, and caramel, you need to know the proper way on how to taste bourbon.
Bourbon tasting is done through the “Kentucky Chew'' process. First, observe the color and set your nose over into the glass. With your lips slightly parted, breathe in the aroma. The final step is to sip the bourbon. Make sure to chew on the liquor to get the most flavors.
If you’re just plain curious or planning to visit a bourbon distillery soon, read on to find out the right way to taste bourbon whiskey.
How to Taste Bourbon
Whiskey distillers and connoisseurs use the “Kentucky Chew” as their guide for correct bourbon tasting. They coined the term since the production of bourbon primarily takes place in the state of Kentucky.
According to Jane Bowie, the Master of Maturation at Maker’s Mark Distillery, this process of tasting whiskey is historically a gentlemanly way of appreciating the liquor.
“It allows you to really dive into all those wonderful and complex flavors the distiller worked so hard to create, and helps us appreciate the time and patience that went into the delicate art of maturation. Sipping and letting it breathe, it will change and unlock new and interesting flavors,” Bowie said in an interview with Rooster.
Get a glass of whiskey and try for yourself the correct way on how to taste bourbon.
- Step 1: Pour your favorite bourbon into the whiskey glass.
- Step 2: Observe the color of the liquor. The lighter its hue, the lighter the taste will be.
Step 3: Sniff the whiskey by placing your nose slightly inside the glass—angle it in a way that you can fully appreciate the aroma.
Do not close your mouth when doing this step. Instead, breathe in with your lips slightly parted. If your mouth is closed, you won’t get to enjoy the nuances of the aroma.
Step 4: Take a small sip and center it into your middle palate, but do not swallow it immediately. You need to roll or chew it around your tongue and mouth to taste the several layers of flavor.
Once you’ve done this, swallow the bourbon. You can also smack your lips a few times after you have swallowed to enjoy its finish.
- Step 5: Repeat all the steps until your glass is empty.
What to Consider in Bourbon Tasting
Here are some essential things you should be aware of before tasting bourbon:
The type of whiskey glass you use plays a crucial role in getting the most out of your liquor. Official whiskey tasting glass is called Glencairn, which has a round and wide base that makes swirling easier and effective. Moreover, the narrow neck allows the aroma and flavor to gather under the edge.
If you don’t have this type of glass, working with the Tulip is just fine. The only thing to remember is to taste bourbon with a glass that has a tapered mouth for the aroma to be fully appreciated.
The bourbon’s color signifies how long it has been aged or preserved. The darker the color, the older the spirit is. If it is light in shade, it hasn’t aged that long and may have a lighter taste.
One of the key things that play a vital role in bourbon tasting is the sense of smell. It is suggested to swirl the spirit and wait for a few seconds before inhaling the aroma. Remember not to stick your nose deep into the glass, and just let the smell rise up and into your nose.
Most people would probably gulp the bourbon as they believe that the flavors are better tasted this way, but this is not the case. You should take small sips and let the liquor roll in your tongue and mouth.
You may tend to identify the flavors that you will encounter, but do not be too stern. Just let the tasting notes get into you naturally.
The finish is the subtle flavors that you can taste after you swallow the bourbon. If it lingers in your mouth, it has a long finish. But if it doesn’t stay for quite a while, it has a short finish.
Bourbon tasting allows you to take an in-depth look into the various complex flavor profiles and aroma that you cannot experience when you drink it straight up. The best way to truly appreciate this spirit is by knowing how to taste it correctly.
Now that you have more profound knowledge and understanding of how to taste bourbon, you are on your way to being a whiskey connoisseur.
Did you enjoy these tips on bourbon tasting? Share with us your thoughts in the comment section.