Want to find the best Bourbon?
Bourbon lovers spend hundreds of dollars each year to bring their favorite drink home. You can save some money and enjoy a better-quality whiskey if you learn to distinguish the differences between different bourbons.
Many bourbon connoisseurs claim to have a “nose” for bourbon. Their advanced scents can tell the different nectars apart just by smelling them. If you have a more average sense of smell, you can learn to pick up the different scents by comparing notes.
Read our guide to learn how to identify the best bourbons from some of the worst.
What Is Bourbon?
Bourbon whiskey is a type of American whiskey that is made from a blend of different rye, wheat, and corn. The exact recipe for bourbon whiskey is a closely guarded secret, but we do know that it must be at least 51% corn and aged a minimum of two years.
The 5 Different Types of Bourbon
There are five different types of bourbon, each with its own unique Bourbon Flavor Profiles.
Wheat bourbon is made with a higher percentage of wheat, resulting in a softer flavor.
Rye bourbon is made with a higher percentage of rye, giving it a signature spicy flavor.
Single barrel bourbon is made from a single barrel, giving it more robust flavors.
Barrel-proof bourbon is the strongest option, as it is not diluted with water before bottling.
Smell the Bourbon
When you’re ready to begin your bourbon tasting, you’ll want to pour a small amount of bourbon into your glass. You’ll want to swirl the bourbon around in your glass to release the aromas.
Take a deep breath in and see if you can identify any of the following scents: caramel, vanilla, honey, oak, or tobacco.
If you can smell any of these scents, then you know your bourbon has a great taste.
To Know How Bourbon Tastes Take a Small Sip
There are four key flavor components you want to look for in your bourbon: sweetness, spice, oak, and vanilla. You want to find a balance of these flavors, and the best way to do that is to take a small sip and let the bourbon sit on your tongue for a bit before you swallow.
If you can taste any of these flavors, then you know your bourbon has a great taste. The last step is to take a small sip of water and see if the bourbon’s flavor changes. If the flavor becomes more intense, then you know your bourbon has a great taste.
Understand the Color
When you taste bourbon, pay attention to the color. The darker the bourbon, the longer it has been aged and the more flavors it will have. This means that the flavor will be more complex.
If you prefer a lighter flavor, look for a bourbon that is less than five years old.
Spit the Bourbon Out
The best way to know if your bourbon has a great taste is to spit it out after taking a small sip. Yes, you read that correctly.
This allows you to savor the flavor and get a feel for the body of the bourbon. The downside to this is that you will not be able to drink as much of the bourbon, but it is worth it to get the full flavor.
Pay Attention to the Aftertaste
One important factor in bourbon tasting is the aftertaste. Pay attention to the aftertaste of the bourbon and see if it lingers on your palate. A great-tasting bourbon will have a long-lasting aftertaste that will leave you wanting more. By paying attention to the aftertaste, you can be sure that you’re bourbon tasting experience will be a great one.
Bourbon Flavor Profiles
Bourbon tasting is all about finding the right flavors for your palate. There are four main flavor profiles that you should look for when tasting bourbon: woody, caramelly, fruity, and spicy.
Woody flavors come from the oak barrel that the bourbon was aged in and give the bourbon a nice, smooth flavor.
Caramelly flavors come from the caramel that is used to sweeten the bourbon. Fruity flavors come from the fruits that are used to flavor the bourbon, such as cherries or oranges.
Spicy flavors come from the spices that are used to flavor the bourbon, such as cinnamon or nutmeg. When you find a bourbon that has all of these flavors, you know you have found a great bourbon.
What Makes Bourbon Taste Great?
So, what makes bourbon taste great? The high corn content gives bourbon its sweetness, while the rye provides the characteristic “spicy” flavor. The wheat gives the bourbon a softer, more “rounded” flavor.
The different proportions of these grains will give each bourbon its own unique taste. In addition to the different types of grain, bourbon is also aged in charred oak barrels. This aging process contributes to the bourbon’s flavor, color, and aroma.
How to Pick a Good Bourbon
If you’re looking for a great-tasting bourbon, look for one that is made with high-quality ingredients and has a smooth, mellow flavor. A great way to taste bourbon is to pour a small amount into a glass and then hold it up to your nose.
You should be able to smell the sweetness of the corn and the oakiness of the barrel. When you take a sip, you should notice the smoothness of the bourbon and the sweetness of the corn.
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