I have a new job: Spirits Reviewer for Wine Enthusiast magazine. Yes, that’s right: someone is actually paying me to drink booze and mouth off about my opinions! And my first review column, on Bourbon, is running in the September issue of the magazine. You can pick up a copy at the newsstand, or view it in digital format on Zinio.
Like a lot of people, I’m an experiential learner. In other words, sure, I might learn by reading, but I tend to learn a helluva lot more from experiencing something first-hand.
So it’s safe to say that in the course of sampling 20+ bottles of Bourbon, I learned a thing or two. Or to be more precise, I learned five things about Bourbon, which I’m happy to share with you, below. I’ll try to keep updating this blog with bullets about new spirits as the other columns come out.
5 things I’ve learned about…Bourbon
1. Aged = good. 18-year-old Bourbon is a beautiful thing.
2. The Kentucky stuff is best, by a wide margin. After sampling these bold babies, anything else seems flaccid by comparison.
3. It smells deliciously, delectably sweet. Caramel, toffee, butterscotch, vanilla. That’s from the barrel aging. Yum. The deep brown color is from the barrel too.
4. …But it sure won’t taste sweet. Bourbon is STRONG booze. That’s why it’s best over ice (cools the burn and dilutes as it melts) or mixed in a cocktail (to offset the hooch).
5. The aftertaste (“the finish”) is when you get to taste the caramel & vanilla you smelled in the aroma. This might seem obvious to some, but to be honest, I always thought the concept of a “finish” in a drink was a lot of pretentious hooey made up by snooty wine drinkers. But try a couple of Bourbons, and you’ll learn quickly that the “finish” is tremendously important with this spirit, and impossible to miss.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on Bourbon too. There’s always something new to learn!