Bourbon tasting like wine is an art. The following steps will help you to taste bourbon like a pro.
“I recommend trying as many bourbons as you can,” says Assistant Master Distiller at Woodford Reserve, Elizabeth McCall, which sounds like a delight, but to appreciate the bourbon is going to take a bit more than just pouring another drink.
If you’re someone who has never experienced a tasting with one of the Pro’s, its daunting to even think about how it’s done, but Elisabeth shares her recommended ways to best appreciate the art of distilling bourbon:
- Taste bourbon neat, in a tulip-shaped tasting glass that concentrates the aroma at the rim.
- With your lips slightly parted, smell the bourbon and rate the aroma, identifying specific notes.
- Take a sip, but don’t gulp it. Take a mouthful and move the liquid around your mouth before swallowing. Consider the flavors and the ‘mouth feel’ (is it creamy and smooth or does it have a bite?) – for example, there are more than 200 detectable flavors in Woodford Reserve – 212 to be exact.
- Wait to appreciate the lingering ‘finish’. Bourbon will leave a short, medium, or long finish, which could be described as smooth or mellow, through to crisp, dry, spicy, or with a burn. It may even give you a warm sensation after you’ve swallowed it. This is fondly known as the ‘Kentucky Hug’.