America’s homegrown whiskey has develop into probably the most standard pours around. And with so many bottles flooding the market, the backbar has turned right into a crowded panorama, one that could simply overwhelm the common drinker.
So we discovered a spirit guide. Beau Williams, the owner of Kansas City’s Julep, lauded for having one of many country’s most outstanding bourbon picks, shares his rules for picking, sipping and mixing America’s favorite spirit.
Read the Label
The 1st step is to learn how to decode bourbon labels, says Williams. “Bourbon is a very broad class,” he says. “It’s essential to know what the wording means.” For example, he always looks for the phrase straight bourbon.
“Straight is what you wish to look for in the beginning whenever you’re searching the cabinets,” he says. “It means they’re not adding anything to or adulterating the product, so that you’re getting the real deal.”
He additionally recommends looking for the age statement on the label, though he’s quick to note that you just won’t always discover it. And particularly if it’s from a newer producer, that usually signifies that bourbon is on the younger side. By law, straight bourbon have to be aged for at the very least two years.
Seek Out Worth
“Should you’re spending more than $40, you’re probably doing it fallacious,” says Williams. In fact, in case you’re a collector looking for further-aged Pappy Van Winkle, expect to pay a premium. However for these just starting out, affordable bourbons abound. Williams recommends Wild Turkey 101 (“wonderful juice at a reasonable value point,”) and bottlings from 4 Roses and Heaven Hill (manufacturers from the latter include Henry McKenna, Evan Williams and J.T.S. Brown, among others).
Skip the Shot Glass
While the flavors of bourbon may be quite different from Scotch whisky, Williams recommends sipping a neat pour from a Glencairn glass, a curved vessel typically reserved for scotch. “Aroma is a huge part of your bourbon experience,” says Williams. “You need a glass that permits you to capture the aroma—caramel-y, nutty, etc.—to get you excited and cue up the rest of your senses.”
A shot glass won’t enhance this experience, he says, however a glass with a broad base and tapered top “to capture aromas and funnel them upwards” will do the trick. In lieu of a Glencairn, he typically makes use of Old Fashioned or rocks glasses with an analogous, slightly tapered shape.
Don’t Be Afraid of Dilution
“Water is your friend, and don’t be afraid of it,” says Williams. “Folks think there’s only one way to drink bourbon, and that’s wrongheaded. Water is not a dealbreaker whatsoever.” The present pattern for uncut, unfiltered, barrel-power whiskeys signifies that most bourbons actually benefit from some dilution, he says. “It takes off the heat and spice notes and lets the sweetness shine through.”
Upgrade Your Ice
“Bourbon has big, bold flavors,” says Williams. “A little bit of ice and water won’t kill the thing.” However, he’s wary of small, watery pieces of ice that dilute a spirit too quickly. “I prefer to take my time, and I need a comparable experience from when I start to when I finish. Stable ice is never a bad idea.” For residence use, he recommends silicone molds to freeze sizable chunks that chill successfully but melt slowly.
Attempt an Old Fashioned
“An Old Fashioned can really turn people on to how wonderful a bourbon expertise may be without drinking it on its own. Ice, a little bit of sugar and bitters might help bridge the flavor profiles, make it more palatable.” The goal, he says, is to accentuate the flavors of bourbon slightly than mask them, and “the classic Old Fashioned does that wonderfully.”
“There’s no mistaken way to eat bourbon,” says Williams. The only mistake is “not enjoying it while you’re doing it.
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