Bourbon being bourbon, it tastes pretty great no matter how you drink it. But with a spirit this divine, there’s a world of pleasure to be savored when you take the time to do it right.
Here to tell us how to bring the most flavor out of bourbon is Lux Row Distillers ambassador and lead brand representative Philip Lux.
Let It Breathe
Although your impulse may be to grab a taste as soon as the bottle is open, Philip recommends giving the bourbon a few minutes before any sipping begins.
“Pour it into your glass and let it sit. Even five minutes is good,” he says. “Giving it a chance to get some air, letting it open up, will make it easier for those wonderful flavors of caramel and wood and sweetness to emerge.
“Then take little sips. Part your lips, and breathe in through your nose. Let it wander on your palate.”
The Right Glass
The vessel endorsed by whiskey aficionados everywhere is the Glencairn whiskey glass, made by Glencairn Crystal in Scotland. Its tulip shape is designed to enhance one’s appreciation for bourbon by concentrating the aromas and unraveling its complexities.
The Glencairn is what they use exclusively at Lux Row’s tasting room. But Philip also approves of a good old-fashioned whisky rocks glass, especially when you’re pouring bourbon over ice.
For a pure tasting experience, nothing surpasses sipping straight, at room temperature, without distractions to come between you and your bourbon. But water and ice can be used prudently to explore other flavor nuances.
Scientists have found that just a few drops of water can actually allow you to taste whiskey more readily. But just a few drops, Philip cautions.
“Just one to three droplets,” he says. “And we recommend it be purified water. It helps open up [the bourbon].”
Similarly, drinking whiskey on ice can help mute the “heat” that alcohol delivers and allow the spirit’s flavors to come through. But choose your ice wisely: Those oversized ice cubes currently in vogue are ideal because they cool the whiskey without watering it down.
Have a Bite
Food is a good (and delicious) way to help you detect flavors in bourbon. You can choose items such as chocolates and smoked nuts to help you identify similar flavors in your drink. Try Kopper’s chocolates, which we serve in the Lux Row Distillers tasting room. They pull out sweet, caramelized depths you didn’t even know existed in bourbon. You can thank us in person.