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Bourbon Tasting Events

Bourbon Tasting Guide

Enjoy the Bourbon Experience.

Hosting a bourbon tasting event is a perfect way to entertain good company while learning more about one of the United State’s most treasured whiskeys. Bourbon is an important part of Kentucky’s heritage, as it is well ingrained into the history of the Bluegrass state.

Whether you or your party guests are bourbon enthusiasts or novice drinkers in the world of whiskey, a bourbon tasting event is a wonderful way to learn more. Enjoy our bourbon tasting event tips, and use your new knowledge to create a bourbon experience that can’t even be found on the Kentucky bourbon trail, whiskey bar, or an old distillery tour.

Our comprehensive bourbon tasting guide will teach you how to host bourbon tastings that compare and outmatch bourbon tours from the finest of tasting rooms like Heaven Hill Distillery and other tours on West Main Street and Louisville Street.

Types of Tasting Events

Before hosting a tasting event, you’ll want to decide if the tasting will be a blind bourbon experience. Keeping the names of various Kentucky bourbon trail bourbons hidden and off of the table during the tasting party will remove any chance of personal bias that comes from each individual taster. An open tasting is best for Kentucky bourbon trail enthusiasts that wish to be informed as they pick their favorite bourbon from different bourbon distilleries. That being said, you may wish to print a list of flavor notes for individual bourbons that can be found on the bourbon trail, and hold that for the end to share with the entire group. Comparing your notes to an expert’s palate is an easy way to get started in the bourbon trail tasting game.

Next, you’ll need to choose a type of tasting that your guest will use to tour the different bourbons. There are a few different ways bourbon tastings are held including:

  • General tasting flight experience. A general tasting flight assesses a group of different bourbons that all contain a wide variety of different flavor profiles from different distilleries.
  • Horizontal tasting flight experience. Horizontal tasting flights pit bourbons of similar quality against one another, but are produced from completely different distilleries.
  • Vertical tasting flight experience. Vertical tasting flights compare different bourbons that are produced and aged from the exact same distillery.

 

Selecting the Bourbon

If you’re not sure which bourbons to choose for your different types of tastings, we comprised examples of bourbons that can be used as a reference down below. Of course, there are many different types of bourbons, so feel free to add or change up the selection.

 

Vertical Tasting Flight: New Riff

New Riff – Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

  • 100 Proof
  • Nose: Butterscotch rounding into fresh oak, with hints of vanilla and rye spice.
  • Taste: Broad, fulsome mouthfeel, leading to a sweeter vanilla accent, before a gathering of rye spices (clove, cinnamon, mint, dark berry) into the finish.
  • Finish: Long, rye-led finish, with brambly red-black fruits amid white pepper and clove.

New Riff – Single Barrel Bourbon

  • 110 Proof
  • Nose: Butterscotch rounding into fresh oak, with hints of vanilla and rye spice.
  • Taste: Broad, fulsome mouthfeel, leading to a sweeter vanilla accent, before a gathering of rye spices (clove, cinnamon, mint, dark berry) into the finish.
  • Finish: Long, rye-led finish, with brambly red-black fruits amid white pepper and clove.

 

Horizontal Tasting Flight: Sweet Bourbons

New Riff’s Single Barrel Bourbon Whiskey

  • 110 proof
  • Aroma: Butterscotch rounding into fresh oak, with hints of vanilla and rye spice.
  • Taste: Broad, fulsome mouthfeel, leading to a sweeter vanilla accent, before a gathering of rye spices (clove, cinnamon, mint, dark berry) into the finish.
  • Finish: Long, rye-led finish, with brambly red-black fruits amid white pepper and clove.

New Riff’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey made with Malted Oat & Chocolate Malt

  • 100 proof
  • Nose: Forward and well-oaked, emergent dark cocoa; water adds a mélange of dry cocoa notes and a unique spicy quality.
  • Palate Entry: Lovely dryness with a sweeter inner core, surprisingly delicate, and the dry cocoa jousts with oak and that unusual spice

 

General Tasting Flight:

New Riff’s Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

  • 100 proof
  • Nose: Butterscotch rounding into fresh oak, with hints of vanilla and rye spice.
  • Taste: Broad, fulsome mouthfeel, leading to a sweeter vanilla accent, before a gathering of rye spices (clove, cinnamon, mint, dark berry) into the finish.
  • Finish: Long, rye-led finish, with brambly red-black fruits amid white pepper and clove.

New Riff’s Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey

  • 100 proof
  • Nose: Spicy and detailed, showing mint, black pepper, and vanilla with hints of orange and oak.
  • Taste: Cinnamon spice, vanilla and sweet toffee moving into a bold mouth feel with rich Rye spice, caramel and toasted oak. Complex flavors drink older than four-year-old.
  • Finish: Bold Rye spice with vanilla buttercream and lingering brown sugar, plus a mineral-grassy Rye tone that fades slowly.

 

Supplies

Below is a list of supplies you’ll need to provide for your bourbon tasting tour:

  • Bourbon. Pour an ounce of each bourbon into every taster’s glass. You’ll only need about a finger width of bourbon in the glass for a beginning taste.
  • Tulip shaped glassware. This rounded glass best showcases the bourbon flavors and color when the glass sits on your bar.
  • Water cups. Water should be used to cleanse the pallet and add a few drops to a glass as a way to loosen the flavors.
  • Ice bucket. Drop an ice cube into each tasting glass after the round of bourbon that is at the temperature of the tasting room to see if the bourbon opens up in flavor.
  • Tasting Note Paper. Note paper helps your tasters keep track of their thoughts and opinions on each bourbon they try. Remind them to take tasting notes home with them to keep track of which bourbons they enjoyed.

 

How to Taste

To be a great bourbon taster, your guests should follow this reference guide on tasting bourbons.

  • Take a look. Study the color. Lighter colors represent a shorter aging, while darker colors are indicative of a longer barreling and aging process. 
  • Swirl the glass and sniff. Swish the bourbon around to aerate any lingering aromas. Bourbon needs a little air to open up flavors. Breathe in through your mouth to smell the complexities of every flavor.
  • Take a sip. Take a sip from the glass and coat the inside of your mouth. This way, the bourbon can hit different parts of your tongue to pick up different flavor profiles.
  • Swallow. When swallowing, lookout for the smoothness and finish. Are any flavors left behind?
  • Add ice. Adding a little ice to your mix may loosen the bite, lending to more flavors that are released.

 

Bourbon Tasting

When hosting a bourbon tasting, the most important part is to enjoy the bourbon experience with your guests. Have fun planning, and always get yourself a glass to join in on the fun with others. Next time you plan on doing a distillery tour, consider hosting a tasting first! Be sure to visit New Riff Distilling for additional information and guidance on hosting home bourbon tastings, and stop by for a distillery tour or a drink at our whiskey bar.

New Riff Distilling 2021. All rights reserved.

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