When Hosting A Bourbon Tasting Party, Skip The Perfume And Candles

With so many amazing bourbons and whiskeys available on the market, hosting a tasting party is a fun way to learn which is your favorite and what spirit is perfect in your go-to cocktail recipes. The key to a good tasting is detecting the nose, or subtle aroma characteristics, of a spirit, and to do that, the first step is to minimize any scents in the environment. Scented candles, perfumes, and other strong smells mask the true flavors you are hoping to detect, making them unwelcome party guests.

Although it may be surprising to think that scents in the room can change the perception of taste, some scientists say that 70% or more of something's flavor is driven by how it smells (per The Washington Post). That's because taste is not only experienced on your tongue, but also through aromas detected in the nose. When there are competing scents in the room, the subtle and delicate fragrances in your bourbon glass get muddled.

Your nose knows good flavor

The key to distinguishing all the various aromas that make up the delicious flavors in your glass is to sip the spirit while drawing air through your mouth and nose. Your tongue and nose can then detect all of the flavor compounds. Bourbons will have caramel and vanilla notes, but depending on the distillery and aging techniques, there could be wood, fruit, spice, or even floral scents that contribute to the complex overall taste. It's easy to see how extra scents from candles and perfumes could overwhelm these distinguishing smells, preventing you from experiencing it properly.

Swirling your bourbon tasting samples in a glass that has a narrow top, like classic Glencairn glasses, will also help release the fragrances you are seeking. Have some water on hand for sipping between each bourbon sample to clear your palate, but also to drip into the bourbon which helps to release the scent into the air and decrease the alcohol burn on your tongue. Follow your nose — all the delicious bourbon flavors are there in your glass waiting to be discovered!