Bourbon is a popular American whiskey known for its rich flavor and smooth character. If you’re starting to drink bourbon, here are some simple facts and hints to remember.

  1. Understand What Bourbon Is:
    • Bourbon is a type of whiskey originating from the United States, with most of it produced in Kentucky.
    • By law, bourbon must be made from at least 51% corn, distilled to no more than 160 proof (80% alcohol by volume), and aged in new, charred oak barrels. It cannot contain any additives, except water, to adjust proof.
  2. Choose Your Bourbon:
    • Many bourbon brands and varieties are available, ranging from affordable options to premium selections. As a beginner, start with a well-regarded and reasonably-priced bourbon.
    • Some popular bourbon brands include Maker’s Mark, Buffalo Trace, Woodford Reserve, and Evan Williams.
    • Don’t go crazy buying expensive bourbons. Find out what you like and then go from there.
  3. Know How to Taste Bourbon:
    • Tasting bourbon involves using your senses to appreciate its aroma, flavor, and overall character.
    • Pour a small amount (around 1-2 ounces) of bourbon into a clean glass with a narrow opening, such as a Glencairn glass or a tumbler.
    • Observe the color: Bourbon ranges from pale gold to deep amber, depending on age and barrel influence.
    • Swirl the glass gently to release the aroma. Take a moment to inhale the scent, noting any hints of caramel, vanilla, oak, or spices.
  4. Sip Bourbon Slowly:
    • Take a small sip and let it coat your palate. Don’t rush the experience.
    • Note the initial flavors and how they evolve as you sip. Look for sweetness, spiciness, fruitiness, or other flavors.
    • Bourbon often has a warm and lingering finish that can be quite enjoyable.
  5. Add Water or Ice (Optional):
    • Some prefer adding a few drops of water or a single ice cube to their bourbon. This can slightly dilute the alcohol and open up different flavor profiles.
    • It’s a matter of personal preference; experiment to find what you enjoy best.
  6. Explore Different Bourbons:
    • As you become more familiar with bourbon, try different brands and expressions to discover your preferences.
    • Bourbons vary significantly in flavor, some sweeter and others more robust or spicy.
  7. Enjoy Bourbon Responsibly:
    • Bourbon has alcohol content, so drinking responsibly and in moderation is important.
    • Don’t drink and drive, and be mindful of your limits.
  8. Learn the Terminology:
    • Familiarize yourself with bourbon-related terminology such as mash bill (grain recipe), proof (alcohol content), and distillation (the process of making whiskey).
  9. Join a Bourbon Community:
    • Consider joining a bourbon enthusiast group like or forums where you can exchange knowledge and recommendations with fellow bourbon lovers.
  10. Have Fun:
  • Enjoy the experience of exploring the world of bourbon. It’s a journey of discovery and appreciation of this classic American spirit.

Tasting bourbon is a personal experience, and there are no right or wrong ways to enjoy it. Find what suits your palate and savor the flavors and aromas of bourbon.

I hope this helps in carving your path to enjoying bourbon.

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The Bourbon Flight Staff | + posts