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Mar 22, 2011 07:59 PM

how do you sip bourbons?

What is the right way to sip boubon, How much do you take in and where and how long do you hold it in your mouth to get all the characteristics out of bourbon?

I am new to whiskey strait and want to get a few of the better types out there and try them strait. The one thing I am learning is there is a bit of burn on back of mouth when sipping. This is new to me for my whiskey has always been in the form of a old fashion sweet. Is the burn part of the tasting or is that just something that the best bourbons dont have as mush. Thanks for your help fro m a whiskey newbe.

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  1. Are you smelling it first. Always smell before you sip. See what aromas you notice. Spend some time on it. Remember, most of taste is actually smelling.

    Then take a very small sip. Bourbon is at least 40% alcohol (and some are much higher) so if you're not used to it, you will feel a burn. That's why you take a small sip, and don't hold it in your mouth. Just take a small sip, let it run over your tongue and swallow. If you hold it, you will increase the burn. After you swallow, see what you taste, then exhale through your nose and see what you pick up. That's the finish.

    If you feel like it burns, then add some water to get it to a comfortable level for you. As I said, Bourbon is high in alcohol, but it shouldn't be painful. Add the amount of water that is comfortable for you. As you continue to experience it, you will get used to the heat.

    Instructional video:

    4 Replies
    1. re: sku

      Something I read a while back said to "chew" while tasting to help force air through the nasal passages, and that seems to work well for me.

      1. re: ncyankee101

        I've read mixed takes on the "chewing" technique. Great tip that I picked up from the BarSmarts Online training: Take a small sip, swallow, then close your mouth and gently breathe out of your nose while pushing your tongue up. This forces the residual vapors to pass over the nerves in your nose on their way out, and lets you experience the various tastes without trying to push air out through your nose while there is liquid in your mouth. Works very well in my experience so far.

        1. re: davis_sq_pro

          To add to that. Don't focus too much on the first sip. Use that as a way to cleanse and prepare yourself. It isn't until the second and third sips that your palate opens up to the spirit and you can really get the flavors and aromas.

          DSP, you should take the BarSmarts Advanced/Live. I think it is coming around again to your area soon.

      2. re: sku

        Also, if you use a small bourbon glass or brandy glass, you gotta remember to keep your pinky finger raised for extra points.

      3. Sorry, but this reminded me of a line from Bogie in one of my favorite films, "The Big Sleep"

        General Sternwood: How do you like your brandy, sir?
        Philip Marlowe: In a glass.

        for more: