What Makes a Bourbon? Tips For Ordering Your Perfect Glass of Whiskey

What Makes a Bourbon? Tips For Ordering Your Perfect Glass of Whiskey

If you are looking to change up your normal cocktail routine and give a glass of bourbon a try for the first time, then you may be surprised to find how many different considerations there are when it comes to ordering a glass of this whiskey. If you are going to enjoy a quality bourbon, then you want to make sure that you are doing it right so you can get the full experience.

The good news is, ordering whiskey like a pro doesn’t have to be as intimidating as it seems. In fact, here are a few tips on how to order and enjoy bourbon the right way.

Know What You are Ordering

If you are relatively new to the world of whiskeys, then you may not know the difference between a bourbon and between other types of whiskey on the menu. That is alright. While they do have some differences, it can be easy to mix up these different types of dark liquor.

The first step in drinking bourbon like a pro is knowing what it is it that you are ordering. Bourbon is an American whiskey, like Rye or Tennessee Whiskey. In fact, Tennessee Whiskey is just straight Bourbon that happens to be made in Tennessee (meaning Jack Daniel’s, George Dickel, Collier and Mckeel and Benjamin Prichard). In general a Bourbon type of whiskey is made mostly from corn (at least 51% corn) and is sweeter than your average whiskey. For example, Maker’s Mark is a popular form of bourbon.

Bourbon Neat or on the rocks

“Neat” or “On the Rocks”

If you have ever seen someone order a glass of whiskey before, chances are you have heard them use words like “neat” or “on the rocks.” So, what is the difference?

Most whiskey connoisseurs will claim the best way to order a glass of bourbon is “neat.” This means it is served in a snifter glass at room temperature. This glass is tulip-shaped and specifically designed to help you enjoy the aroma of the whiskey while you drink it. When you hold your bourbon in this shape of glass, the heat of your hands will actually slightly warm the whiskey and allow it to bring out more flavors.

When someone orders whiskey “on the rocks” it means it is served over ice. Typically, whiskey is only served over a few large cubes or a large whiskey block of ice. When you order whiskey on the rocks, it should be served in an old-fashioned glass. When people order whiskey this way or whiskey and water they likely think it helps bring out the flavor of the whiskey. However, some would argue that water or melted ice can dilute the intended flavor of the whiskey.

Tasting Your Glass of Bourbon

When you receive your glass of bourbon, whether it is “neat” or “on the rocks” it is time to give it a try. However, before you start sipping it down, you need to stop and smell it. It sounds strange, but it is part of the process. Don’t inhale too much or too fast just gently smell your glass to start to get a feel for the aroma and the flavors. Once you have done this, start slowly and casually sipping your whiskey.

Bourbon is not meant to be chugged or shot like a shooter, it is meant to be slowly enjoyed.

Once you have enjoyed your first glass of bourbon it’s time to try another on the menu. The more bourbons you try, the more you will start to recognize the subtle differences in these whiskeys until you find a particular style or brand of bourbon that delights your pallet and becomes your new favorite.