Don't Forget To Smell Bourbon First For A Better Tasting Experience

Enjoying a good bourbon is way more than simply throwing it down the hatch. Bourbon is an art form all on its own. Just like understanding a larger-than-life painting in an art gallery where you need to step back to gain its full perspective, bourbon requires a moment of your time to fully appreciate it.

If you're just now learning to appreciate bourbon, you may remember when you thought, "If you've tasted one bourbon, you've tasted them all." Do you remember the bourbon that changed your mind? It most likely had a nose on it that was unforgettable. Perhaps, it was sweet notes of corn and molasses. Or, maybe it was spicy and smoky.

Bourbon Inspector notes that there are actually seven steps to properly tasting bourbon. The third step is something called "nosing the glass." So, before you get to a sort of rinse-and-repeat style of tasting, don't forget how important smelling bourbon is to the experience.

Nosing the bourbon

The best way to taste bourbon, especially if you've never tasted it before, is to have it in its purest form: neat. But before you ever take your first sip, get your nose in there. Like, really in the glass. Gently inhale through your nose, while keeping your mouth slightly open to explore the bourbon's nuanced aromas.

Coopers' Craft master distiller Chris Morris explains, "Our ability to taste is actually heavily dependent upon the sense of smell. Plus by nosing a sample first we don't initially expose our product attribute perception to the impact of alcohol that results from tasting and therefore can perceive more complexity."

Take the nose on Coopers' Craft Barrel Reserve 100 Proof, for example. The Bourbon Culture picked up notes of brown sugar, banana, and pecan bread, along with a smidge of raisins. That was even before the bourbon ever hit their lips. Because our sense of smell accounts for roughly 80% of what we taste, the nose stands to be a good reason why Morris suggests the uptick in such complexities.

Some of the other seven steps to experiencing bourbon in its fullest expression include the Kentucky chew (swishing the bourbon in your mouth) and paying attention to how the bourbon finishes on your palate. But whatever your bourbon of choice is, the nose knows. Always start by smelling the pour.