We’ve all got one: That ultra-opinionated friend who’s sure that their way of drinking bourbon is the best way.
Well, we’re going to let you in on a little secret. There is no single best way to drink bourbon.
You really want to know the secret to drinking bourbon the “right” way? Here it is: Drink it exactly the way you like it. Drink it neat. Drink it over a mountain of ice. Drink it mixed with freshly squeezed citrus juice or a slushie from the corner store. Drink it from a china teacup, or from that commemorative glass from your college friends’ bachelor party. If you’re enjoying it, you’re doing it right.
Still, it’s nice to have some options. Read on for a few of our favorite ways to drink bourbon at Mash & Grape.
Before we get started, let’s do a quick recap. What’s bourbon? It’s an American whiskey style that must be distilled from at least 51% corn. Bourbon ages in new, charred oak casks. Bourbon doesn’t have a minimum age, but straight bourbon must be aged at least two years.
There’s no better way to appreciate the specific nuances of a great bourbon whiskey than a neat pour. Instead of a standard shot glass, you’ll want to reach for something tulip-shaped. A wider base and narrow neck help to capture the aroma of the bourbon. A Glencairn glass works well, but so does a small wine glass.
Traditionally, bourbon neat is served at room temperature. That said, bourbon generally tastes best at a relatively cool room temperature of around 60-65 degrees, so if your room is especially warm, feel free to put that bottle in the fridge for a few minutes to cool it down a bit.
Some of our favorite bourbons to enjoy neat are Barrell Bourbon’s Batch 032, Sonoma Distilling Company Cherrywood Smoked Bourbon, and Milam & Greene Single Barrel Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Ignore the scolds; bourbon tastes great with ice. Ice cubes can soften the heat and spice of a high-strength bourbon while also bringing out new flavors through the power of dilution.
As the ice in your bourbon on the rocks melts, it will slowly alter the ratio of ethanol to water in your spirit. That can actually trigger new chemical reactions in your glass, revealing hidden flavor profiles.
If you like to add ice, reach for higher-proof bourbons like that won’t taste watered down over a cube or two. Some current favorites are Black Button Distilling Cask Strength Straight Bourbon Whiskey, Smoke Wagon Uncut Bourbon Whiskey, or Kings County Distillery Barrel Strength Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
In a Cocktail
Is there anything better than a frosty mint julep on a warm spring day? Maybe winning it big with a perfect Trifecta bet at the Kentucky Derby–but let’s be real, the first is far more achievable.
There are so many great bourbon cocktails, from old-school standbys like the Mint Julep and the Old Fashioned, to modern classics like the Paper Plane. All are worth time and space in your after-work rotation.
When you’re making cocktails, you don’t need to reach for the most expensive bourbon in your collection, but you do want something with enough oomph to stand up to all those other flavors. We like Old Forester Bourbon 100 Proof, Knob Creek Small Batch, or James E. Pepper 1776 Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
Thirsty for more? Visit our website to see our entire inventory of bourbons. Order online, and have them shipped directly to your door. Or, join our Bourbon Explorer’s Club and sit back and relax while we do the work. Every month, you’ll get a new bottle of something exciting. Cheers!