Are you planning to try bourbon for the first time? Or have you tried bourbon before but find yourself wanting to have a fresh, new experience with it? Would you like to sample a bourbon you’ve never had before, or are you interested in buying the right type of bourbon for someone you know? If any of this sounds like you, then you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’ll give you a quick rundown of everything you need to know about how to choose the right bourbon for yourself or for someone you know. Read through these tips and you’ll be prepared the next time you go shopping for your favorite spirit.
Choose the style of bourbon you want to try first.
There are several different bourbon styles out there. Each one offers something different and unique that you may want to sample. If you’re unable to try before you buy, be sure to do some research on each label and style you’re considering. This way, you’ll be sure to get a bourbon that will cater to your specific tastes. Keep the following in mind when trying to make the right call:
• Small batch bourbon is usually limited edition. These bourbons are often made in fewer than 100 barrels, although there’s no set rule stating this has to be true for a bourbon to be called small batch. These bourbons also include blends from several remnants of small batches—although the label will specify if the bourbon you’re considering is blended or not.
• Single barrel: These bourbons are made entirely in one barrel. Different types of single barrel bourbon will taste different, and even those from the same distillery in different years will also taste different.
• Barrel proof: This type of bourbon has no water added to it—meaning that it is the same proof it was when it was in the barrel. Some of these are well over 100 proof and should be used carefully.
• Craft bourbon: Like craft beer, this type of bourbon is made by small distilleries and usually caters only to a local crowd. These bourbons are very hit-or-miss, but often well worth checking out.
• Rye bourbon: This type of bourbon has more rye content than anything else. It has a much stronger and more powerful flavor and may not be for newcomers.
• Wheat bourbon: This type of bourbon, on the other hand, is great for newcomers. It’s lighter and sweeter than other styles.
Decide whether or not it’s important to try Kentucky bourbon.
Only a bourbon that is made in Kentucky can be called a Kentucky bourbon. This is often considered the height of a true American bourbon, but some fans of this liquor prefer to go with other styles instead. If you’re planning to try bourbon for the first time, a Kentucky bourbon may be right for you. These are often some of the most newcomer-friendly styles of bourbon out there. However, keep in mind that there are several variations that fall under the Kentucky bourbon definition, too, so you might want to shop around to find the one that’s right for you.
It’s important to note that Tennessee bourbon is not the same as Kentucky bourbon. Tennessee bourbon is filtered through maple charcoal for a unique flavor. Tennessee whiskey—like Jack Daniels—is not the same thing as bourbon, although they are similar.
If you’re trying bourbon for the first time, it is recommended to stick to American bourbons before branching out and trying more unique European ones in most instances.
Think about how you’ll be using your bourbon.
If you’re going to be drinking your bourbon straight or on the rocks, you should choose a higher-quality drink with more attention paid to the flavors imparted by the barrel-aging process. On the other hand, if you’re going to be using your bourbon in a cocktail, you may be able to get away with getting something a little bit cheaper, like a blended bourbon. In the end, the way you’re planning to use the bourbon will make a big difference in which type you want to purchase and what flavors you’re looking for as well.
Consider whether or not a recognizable label or specific age matters to you.
Finally, think about the recognizable bourbon labels out there. Wild Turkey, Jim Beam, and some of the other more well-known labels are a great place to start for beginners, but many bourbon fans find they prefer drinks that come from lesser-known labels. If you’re interested in trying craft bourbons or just buying from smaller but still widespread distilleries, don’t hesitate to do so. You may find something you love or even discover the next big trend in the world of bourbon drinking and enjoyment when you let yourself branch out and try something off the beaten path.
Of course, there’s nothing wrong with sticking to the common labels, either. These are tried-and-true bourbons that have been around a long time and aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Some of these labels also offer their own small batch, blends, and more.
Finally, think about the age of your bourbon. Bourbon should be aged for at least four years to give it the best flavor and color from the barrel. The longer it stays in the barrel, of course, the more flavor it will gain and the darker color it will become. Look around for bourbons of different ages to find the one that suits your preferences the most, but remember that older bourbons will tend to cost more.
Now that you’ve learned a little bit about how to buy bourbon, it’s time to pick the type or style that sounds right for you and give it a try. Remember that you may need to sample a few styles before you find the perfect bourbon for your needs, but that there are enough variations out there to please everyone’s palates. Take your time considering different bourbon styles and you’re sure to find the perfect addition to your liquor cabinet in no time.