Man smelling glass of bourbon
Don't Swirl Your Bourbon If You're Trying To Taste It Like A Pro
Enjoying a glass of bourbon engages all the senses, not just taste. If you're swirling prior to sniffing, you're not experiencing the liquor's full, unadulterated bouquet.
Smelling bourbon before sipping is a practice called nosing. Contrary to common belief, bourbon should not be mixed vigorously or even swirled.
Bourbon has a higher ABV, making it more sensitive to air exposure. Because of this, swirling can cause excess aeration, making the alcohol vapors overpower the subtler aromas.
To experience bourbon's full bouquet, just tilt the glass or slowly rotate it to aerate. This allows you to gather clues about its character, complexity, and flavor profile.
For a richer nosing experience, smell it first with your mouth closed to gather the more nuanced scents, then smell again with a slightly open mouth for a broader range of aromas.