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Bourbon Tasting Party

posted at 2017-01-23 13:22:00

Bourbon is the perfect drink for a fun social gathering. Starting with the basics, bourbon is a type of American whiskey and is a barrel aged distilled spirit made primarily from corn. There is a distinct difference between whiskey and bourbon. In fact, my friends from Kentucky are very sensitive about the use of the name. (Don’t even think of using “whiskey” and “bourbon” interchangeably!) When I searched Kentucky bourbon online over 3 million results showed up, so I won't get too bogged down with the details here, but our friends at Old Limestone have a great explanation on their site.

But obviously, as a BARREL aged spirit, we love it. In this blog, we decided to focus our attention on how to properly hold a tasting party. You will discover that it definitely doesn’t have to be a boring educational seminar, but you can still learn something.

When throwing a bourbon tasting party, of course, the star of the party is the bourbon. Guests can choose a variety of bourbons or stick with a specific type but differing brands and ages.  It’s best to keep it simple: no more than 4 or 5 different types and save the strongest or smokiest until last.

If you’re hosting your first tasting party, you’ll be better off if you do a bit of research when selecting the bourbons and ask the stores’ sales associates a few questions when you’re making your final selections. Again, not to offend my Kentucky friends, but you could also go with distillers in your own home state. In my case, I wanted to check out Virginia distillers and found this site to be very helpful. I’m sure you can find similar sites for your area as well.

While it’s best to keep things informal, it’s still a good idea to include some tasting notes. Some important elements to consider should include the bourbon’s:

  • Appearance/color

  • Aroma

  • Taste

  • Finish

It’ll be fun to compare notes with each other throughout the party as well as useful when making bourbon purchases in the future. A great example of tasting notes is on the Kentucky Distillers’ Association website.

At this point, you’ve already selected your bourbon and have your tasting notes. Now, let's take a look at the supplies you’ll need for a successful party:

  • Measuring Utensil:  Ideally, everyone will start with small, equal amounts of each bourbon type (generally about 1.5 ounces of each bourbon).

  • Food Pairing:  Most experts suggest dried fruit or nuts to nibble between each taste. The food can bring out different flavors in the bourbons between sips. For example, it is suggested that dark chocolate brings out rich, new depths in bourbon.  

  • Glasses: Some experts suggest tulip shaped glasses so that you get all of the aroma from the bourbon. For this, Barrel-Art has made it simple with their Glencairn Glass, included with their Premium Bourbon Flight.  The Glencairn Glass is a revolutionary glass that really lets one savor the taste and complexity of fine bourbons. With the tapered mouth, you are able to really smell all of the nuances the bourbon has to offer. Any malt advocate will love this glass!  

Additionally, nothing completes a great party like a delicious meal. You can even plan a potluck with your guests to keep things simple. The most important thing is to have fun!

Last but not least, please drink responsibly. It is always recommended that guests arrange a safe ride home with a service like Uber or have a friend as a designated driver. 

We hope this blog was helpful and that it will encorage you to host your own tasting party. If you do, let us know how it goes and post your pictures on one of our Barrel-Art social media pages with the hashtag #barrelartbourbonparty.