America’s homegrown whiskey has become one of the vital well-liked pours around. And with so many bottles flooding the market, the backbar has turned into a crowded panorama, one that would easily overwhelm the average drinker.
So we found a spirit guide. Beau Williams, the owner of Kansas City’s Julep, lauded for having one of the country’s most excellent bourbon picks, shares his rules for picking, sipping and mixing America’s favorite spirit.
Read the Label
Step one is to discover ways to decode bourbon labels, says Williams. “Bourbon is a very broad class,” he says. “It’s vital to know what the wording means.” For instance, he always looks for the phrase straight bourbon.
“Straight is what you want to look for initially once 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, although he’s quick to note that you simply won’t always discover it. And particularly if it’s from a newer producer, that always means that bourbon is on the youthful side. By law, straight bourbon must be aged for no less than two years.
Seek Out Value
“If you happen to’re spending more than $40, you’re probably doing it wrong,” says Williams. In fact, should 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 one hundred and one (“wonderful juice at a reasonable worth level,”) and bottlings from Four Roses and Heaven Hill (brands from the latter embrace Henry McKenna, Evan Williams and J.T.S. Brown, amongst others).
Skip the Shot Glass
While the flavors of bourbon may be quite totally 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 expertise,” says Williams. “You need a glass that allows you to capture the aroma—caramel-y, nutty, etc.—to get you excited and cue up the remainder of your senses.”
A shot glass won’t enhance this experience, he says, however a glass with a broad base and tapered top “to seize aromas and funnel them upwards” will do the trick. In lieu of a Glencairn, he typically uses Old Fashioned or rocks glasses with an identical, slightly tapered shape.
Do not Be Afraid of Dilution
“Water is your friend, and don’t be afraid of it,” says Williams. “Individuals think there’s only one way to drink bourbon, and that’s wrongheaded. Water shouldn’t be a dealbreaker whatsoever.” The current development for uncut, unfiltered, barrel-energy whiskeys signifies that most bourbons truly 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.” Nonetheless, he’s wary of small, watery items of ice that dilute a spirit too quickly. “I prefer to take my time, and I need a similar expertise from when I start to once I finish. Strong ice isn’t a bad idea.” For residence use, he recommends silicone molds to freeze sizable chunks that chill effectively however soften slowly.
Strive an Old Fashioned
“An Old Fashioned can really turn people on to how wonderful a bourbon experience can be without drinking it on its own. Ice, a little bit of sugar and bitters can help bridge the flavor profiles, make it more palatable.” The goal, he says, is to accentuate the flavors of bourbon somewhat than mask them, and “the classic Old Fashioned does that wonderfully.”
“There’s no wrong way to consume bourbon,” says Williams. The only mistake is “not enjoying it while you’re doing it.
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