Again in historical instances — say, the Nineteen Fifties — the reply to “How do you drink bourbon?” was straightforward. You’d pour a big tumbler of the stuff and knock it again with a few fast gulps. Otherwise you’d go to a bar and say “Bourbon, make it a double,” after which knock it again with a few fast gulps. They had been easier instances. However not essentially higher.
Bourbon, and distilled spirits on the whole, had been drunk, positive, however they weren’t actually tasted. These days, we higher perceive that one of the best bourbons aren’t only a automobile to get us bombed (though it does that very nicely too). There’s an entire lot of artistry and craftsmanship to consider, a large and sophisticated palette of flavors and aromas. The large query these days is, how will we tease out all of the magic that bourbon has to supply? With bourbon as with life, it could look like the extra solutions you get, the extra questions pop up. However we’re gonna give it a shot anyway.
What’s the perfect glass for consuming bourbon?
There are in all probability as many solutions as there are glasses. However we’ll stick to 2 of the preferred kinds of glass. A squat Previous Common/rocks glass feels nice within the hand and has a bit little bit of weight to it, so it feels substantial. And it’s fairly exhausting to tip over, which will be useful relying on the place you’re consuming it. However to get extra of the bourbon’s aromatics, and a extra concentrated taste because of this, a Glencairn glass, with its large bowl and slim opening, is a perfect vessel. In a nutshell, a rocks glass is a stable choice for events or social conditions, whereas a Glencairn glass is nice for a critical tasting session. However no matter glass you employ, be certain that it’s clear.
How do you nostril a bourbon?
Only for the document, nosing is smelling. And there are proper and incorrect methods to odor it. Resembling, don’t stick your nostril within the glass and take an enormous whiff — the alcohol will singe your nostril hairs, particularly should you’re nosing a high-proof or cask-strength bourbon (see: our listing of one of the best sipping bourbons). For a extra detailed primer on the way to do it, listed here are some suggestions from Dan McKee, grasp distiller of Michter’s: “I personally like to depart my mouth barely open whereas inhaling via my nostril. I then move the decrease rim of the glass underneath my nostril from proper to left. Then I’ll nostril the center and prime rim of the glass. Repeat as usually as you prefer to. In doing so, it will enable for various fragrant experiences.” In the event you don’t need to use that a lot priceless consuming time on the aromas, simply bear in mind to maintain your mouth open a bit. That’s key.
What’s a greater method to style a bourbon — neat or with water?
In the event you all the time drink bourbon with Coke or in a highball or an Previous Common and would by no means dream of having fun with it neat, then be at liberty to go for what you recognize. But it surely’s all the time value attempting a bourbon unadulterated, not less than for a sip or two. Frank Caiafa, creator of The Waldorf-Astoria Bar Guide and Spirits Portfolio Director of Banville Wine Retailers, says, “I style the whole lot, it doesn’t matter what the proof is, straight with no water, simply to get the true traits and to style the intention of the distiller, to see what they need in there.” That stated, distillers themselves will style their bourbons very watered down, so the alcohol doesn’t get in the best way of the flavour. So there’s nothing incorrect with including a couple of drops or extra to your bourbon. Particularly with higher-proof expressions, chances are you’ll want a little bit of water to tamp down the alcoholic warmth and let the flavors come via extra clearly. As Caiafa says, “I really feel that should you purchase a 750 ml bottle of cask energy bourbon, you’re actually shopping for a liter.” In different phrases, don’t attempt to be macho — consider cask-strength as “you get to resolve how a lot water so as to add.”
OK, we’ve lined water. How about ice?
With ice, you’re not solely including dilution, however you’re additionally altering the temperature of the bourbon, which is able to have an effect on the aromatics and the flavors you get from it. You additionally get a drink that’s continuously altering and evolving because the ice melts. As Caiafa places it, “In the event you put ice in straight away, the primary sip is a calming glass of straight-up whiskey. The second sip is diluted, the third sip is possibly a bit extra palatable, and the fourth is a pleasant watered down cooling refreshing sip of chilly liquid that units you up for the following spherical.” With that in thoughts, keep in mind that the chilling and the dilution dulls down the flavour profile considerably. So with top-shelf bourbons, consuming them neat or with a bit water is preferable.
What’s a great go-to bourbon cocktail?
Per Michter’s Dan McKee: “If I’m making a cocktail at dwelling, I actually get pleasure from a easy whiskey bitter. I additionally like including a bit purple wine to the whiskey bitter to make a New York bitter. It’s a pleasant contact. After I’m having fun with cocktails created by the professionals, a pleasant Manhattan with a bit additional cherry juice is phenomenal.” Frank Caiafa prefers rye to bourbon in his Manhattan, however agrees on the whiskey bitter: “I believe the lemon and the bourbon pair nicely collectively. The sweetness of the bourbon and the bitter lemon are a great pairing.” He additionally likes the Creole Girl, which is equal components bourbon and Madeira plus a teaspoon of grenadine. And allow us to not neglect the Previous Common, one of many tastiest cocktails that’s additionally one of many best to make.
How about meals pairings? What goes finest with bourbon?
No spirit goes higher with beef than bourbon, whether or not you’re speaking steak, burgers or tartare. The sweetness of the bourbon pairs brilliantly with the savory umami notes of a pleasant minimize of beef. As McKee says, “A pleasant New York strip with a neat pour of bourbon is all the time an important expertise. Bourbon and thinly sliced aged hams additionally go very nicely collectively. For extra of a desert pairing that will appear odd, taking a chunk of milk chocolate and blue cheese collectively adopted by a sip of bourbon is a novel and pleasant expertise.”
Do you’ve got any cool secret bourbon hacks that I can use to impress my pals?
Right here’s McKee’s hack: “I don’t usually admit this, however I discover it fulfilling to eat a couple of espresso beans and observe it up with a sip of bourbon. The flavors from the espresso beans present a novel pairing with the wealthy caramels and vanillas supplied from the bourbon.” Frank Caiafa has a helpful and easy methodology for “rescuing” subpar bourbons and enhancing good ones: “Whether or not with water or neat, a coin-sized piece of orange peel expressed excessive of the bourbon [to release the oils in the peel] after which discarded brings an entire new degree of greatness to no matter bourbon you drink. Particularly if the whiskey means a bit assist.”
How a lot sipping and nosing and fussing do I must do earlier than I simply get right down to consuming?
For a few of us, there’s no such factor as getting too critical about our bourbon — we might spend hours fortunately nosing and sipping and writing down tasting notes. However we additionally perceive those that need to suppose much less and drink extra. And in that state of affairs, the three-sip rule is a reasonably good one. The primary sip is the “good day” sip — you’re coating the tongue, making the introduction to your style buds. The second sip is the “good to fulfill you” sip — maintain the bourbon on the tongue for a short while, lay that base, get extra of the flavors and aromatics and acclimate your self to the alcohol. And the third sip is when all of it comes collectively and also you’re actually totally tasting your bourbon, getting the subtleties, the much less noticeable secondary flavors, all that good things. Heaven is aware of you too can nostril and style and furrow your forehead from the primary sip till the glass is empty. That may be enjoyable, trustworthy! However three sips is a reasonably good benchmark.
The Secret to Nice Cocktails? Discover Out in The Spill.