Have you guys checked out the website Bourbon of the Day?
If you’re a bourbon drinker – or would like to be – you absolutely have to check it out. Demetrius from Bourbon of the Day wrote The Mantitlement Guide to Bourbon for all us readers here at Mantitlement. It was definitely informative to me, I think it will be to you guys too.
Read on with a glass of bourbon in hand…
This is the dawning of the age of the bourbon drinker. For decades ‘America’s Spirit’ was considered low-brow at best, but with a renewed interest in classic cocktails and spirits, bourbon has taken its place among the finest aged spirits in the world. If you have yet to convert to the house of bourbon, this guide will get you on your way.
What Is Bourbon
‘Bourbon’ whiskey has a very specific legal definition that separates it from all other spirits. Bourbon must be aged for no less than 2 years in brand new, charred white oak barrels. This aging method imparts distinct oak, caramel, earth, and smoke flavors to the whiskey while giving bourbon its rich amber color.
Bourbon must be made from no less than 51% corn, with the other grains being comprised of wheat, rye, rice, or barley. Changing up the grain mix changes up the texture and flavor of the finished product – whiskeys made with higher rye contents tend to be spicier, while whiskeys made with wheat tend to be smoother. With corn as its primary ingredient, most bourbons will have a sweetness that isn’t found in other whiskeys.
When these grains are mashed together, yeast is added to the mix to convert sugars naturally found in the grain into alcohol. Yeast provides bourbon with floral or fruit flavors, adding another dimension to the spirit’s flavor. Master Distillers spend decades mixing and matching grain combinations, yeast strains, and aging periods to find the perfect bourbon whiskey formula.
Bourbon Drinking Versus Bourbon Tasting
The difference between a bourbon “drinker” and a bourbon “taster” is an important distinction that should be made. You could choke down any old swill, but bourbon deserves to be properly tasted. Here’s how to do it, minus the snobbery.
Do the Kentucky Chew
Different parts of your tongue registers taste in different ways. To truly taste the different flavors that go into a bourbon, take a sip and roll it around on your tongue so that a little lands in each of the tongues regions (this, ladies and gents, is the Kentucky Chew).
Check Out That Body
If you are familiar with wine lingo, you have heard the term “structure” used to describe the interplay of different elements within the wine. Just like wine, different bourbons have different bodies (also known as weights, levels of viscosity, or texture). Think of the difference between heavy cream, whole milk, and nonfat milk – they all have a type of slipperiness and fluidity to them. Same with bourbons.
Some bourbons are thick and heavy, sitting on your palate like syrup. Other bourbons are very light bodied and almost evaporate on your tongue.
Enjoy the Finish
A good bourbon carries a long, pleasant, flavorful finish that can be as enjoyable as the drink itself. Sit back, smile, and enjoy it while you pass the time with people that dont kill your buzz.
Other Bourbon Essentials
A question I frequently receive as a bourbon bartender is “How can I get the same bourbon experience at home as I get at cocktail bars?” Its simple! You can enjoy your whiskey, serve up guests, and accentuate your tasting experience like a pro with the following three essentials.‘Magic’ Ice Molds
Using a single large sphere of ice will last longer your my whiskey every time – The ice itself melts much more slowly than regular ice cubes, chills your drink to the perfect temperature, and one sphere is good for three drinks. If you would like to make whiskey ice balls at home, we recommend Tovolo Sphere Mold. This specialty ice mold is made of flexible silicon that makes it easy to remove your spheres, and produces perfect circles every time. There are also lots of awesome things you can do with this mold besides make ice. Get creative!
Bourbon Tasting Glasses
Now let me say, Im no bourbon snob. By the end of Happy Hour, you could probably serve me an old Mason jar and I would be just fine. But any civilized and respectable adult should have at least a few nice bourbon tasting glasses.
Bourbon tasting glasses aren’t just pretty additions to your cabinet – they are designed to concentrate and release the complex aromas of the bourbon with a deep enough “bowl” to allow you to swirl it around
while looking pretentious. 60% of your sense of taste comes from your nose, so for better tasting bourbon, use better glassware. My personal favorite is the Glencairn Scotch and Whisky Glass.
If you want to add a little flavor to your whiskey (or if you have a bad bottle that you cant get rid of), a few dashes of bitters is the way to go. Classic cocktails used bitters as a key ingredient ( in fact, the very definition of the word “cocktail” was defined in 1806 as a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters), so having some on hand gives you the opportunity to try your hand at your own cocktails.
Starting out, are only three names in bitters you need to know. They are:
- Peychaud’s Bitters – Can be found in any gourmet grocery store
- Angostura Aromatic Bitters – Currently the most common brand of bitters, and can be found behind most bars, and in a growing number of liquor stores.
- Fee Brothers Bitters – Fee Brothers produces more than 70 bitters blends, including whiskey barrel aged bitters and cherry (!)
So that’s it! You should be just as proficient at tasting bourbon as the most experienced of us out there. For bourbon reviews, cocktail recipes, free giveaways, and information on how you can enjoy the #BourbonLife, click here to subscribe to Bourbon of the Day! Cheers!
So, better informed after reading The Mantitlement Guide to Bourbon? Me too. And also a little thirsty…