Citizen Reporter
2 minute read
13 Oct 2021
9:21 am

A simple guide to drinking bourbon the right way

Citizen Reporter

‘Kentucky Chew'? ‘Kentucky Hug?' We break down some of the terms involved in drinking bourbon the right way.

Simple guide to drink bourbon the right way. Picture: iStock

If you have a sense of adventure and curiosity about different types of spirits or ever wondered how to drink them correctly, an expert has given a guide on drinking bourbon.

Whiskey, cognac and rum are getting a new lease on life and there are certain basics people need to understand about bourbon, says Rowan Gibb, South Africa’s ambassador for bourbon drink, Woodford Reserve.

He says it may take some time for people to build their palate to appreciate the subtle nuances of bourbon. Simply put: all bourbon is whiskey but not all whiskey is bourbon.

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Gibb explains: “Firstly, for a whiskey to call itself bourbon, its mash bill [the mix of grains] must contain at least 51% corn, the rest is made of malted barley, rye or wheat and there are no additives like flavouring or colouring allowed, just pure water.”

And it has to be produced in the United States and must be aged in brand-new, charred white oak barrels and matured for more than two years.

The five sources of flavour are water, grain, fermentation, distillation and maturation, and there are suggested ways to drink bourbon.

How to drink Bourbon the right way:

  • Best serve neat: No water or ice whatsoever, otherwise known as straight. It can also be shaken or stirred with ice and then strained.
  • Use the right glass: The best way to bring out the richness of aromas and flavours is a tulip-shaped glass or whiskey tumbler. The combined form and function of the glass is to deliver the ultimate taste experience. In fact, any simple glass with a wide brim is ideal to “nose” the bourbon.
  • Drink it slowly: “Kentucky Chew” is a term used for letting the bourbon roll around your mouth, over your tongue and then smacking your lips. As you swallow, the bourbon will warm you up as it goes down – this is called the “Kentucky Hug”.
  • Add larger ice cubes, if its on the rocks: Adding larger cubes or ice spheres, which will melt slower instead of watering it down, will render some of the flavour.
  • Small dash of water if needed: The water will dilute the spirit and soften the punch of the alcohol. Gibb advises that adding a small dash of water will avoid diluting too much of the flavour.