Welcome to your quick start guide to tasting bourbon and whiskey. This post shares the basics to get you started on your bourbon journey. How do you start? By tasting more bourbon!

The best way to learn about and grow your bourbon knowledge is to taste thoughtfully and intentionally, taking your time to evaluate the aromas, flavors and experience of each whiskey. Bourbon Women love sipping bourbon, but we know how much time and effort goes into each bottle and we don’t want to rush things.

If you’ve been drinking bourbon for a while, you know how to taste bourbon already, but consider this link a reminder to continue to practice tasting and enjoy training your palate.


A Couple of Pointers for Bourbon Newbies

  1. Sip, don’t shoot. Bourbon drinkers are notorious for taking their time with small sips of a great bourbon to make sure they don’t miss a thing.
  2. Call it a tasting of bourbon, not a shot. We’re here to savor, not drink it all at once.
  3. If you’re used to wine tastings and have a good palate for that, start with a lower proof bourbon rather than jumping into cask strengths if your palate isn’t used to it.
  4. Have water to dilute the bourbon if you need to. Many master tasters prefer to tasted at 30% ABV or lower.
  5. Let your mind wander and make associations with memories when you sip. Aromas are highly evocative of memories, and following the associations through a memory will help you determine what it reminds you of.
  6. If you can’t get a smell out of your nose, sniff your own skin to reset your nose.

Choosing the Right Glassware for a Bourbon Tasting

Just like picking the perfect outfit, selecting the right glass is key. The Glencairn glass, with its tulip shape, is your go-to for concentrating those intriguing aromas. And remember, consistency in your glass choice is vital to developing your nose and palate.

Setting the Scene

Create your own whiskey sanctuary! Opt for a quiet, odor-neutral space with soft lighting and a comfortable temperature. Keep water and a bourbon flavor wheel handy to enhance your tasting experience.

The Four Pillars of Bourbon Evaluation

  1. Aroma: It’s all about the nose. Swirl, sniff, and let the aromas tell their story.
  2. Appearance: Observe the color and texture. It’s like deciphering the whiskey’s history.
  3. Flavor: The main event! Let each sip dance on your tongue and reveal its secrets.
  4. Finish: Savor the lingering flavors and impressions.

Tasting Like a Pro

  • Nosing: Like tuning an instrument, it sets the stage for the flavors.
  • Sipping: Start small and let each sip reveal a symphony of tastes.
  • Describing: Paint a picture with your words. Is it spicy like cinnamon or sweet like caramel? What’s it feel like in your mouth?

Observations in Whiskey Tasting

Your nose and palate are your guides. Identify aromas and flavors like a pro, and notice how aging and barrels influence the character of your bourbon. Describe flavors and aromas from general to specific. Go from citrus, to orange, to dried peel. Or from sweet to caramel, to creme brulee.

Your Whiskey Tasting Journal

Document your bourbon journey like an explorer. Note your impressions, favorites, and reflections. Revisit bourbons from time to time to see how your perceptions have grown.

Embrace the Journey

Every bottle is a new chapter in this flavorful story. Stay curious, open, and trust your instincts. Stay curious, open to new experiences, and trust your instincts. The world of whiskey is rich and diverse, offering endless opportunities for discovery.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This