There are lots of experts out that the will explain to you how to drink bourbon. Many will tell you there’s only one way and that’s neat, or with a splash of water, or never add ice or heaven forbid, never ever add ginger ale. If you add ginger ale the bourbon police will come knocking on your door to take away your Bourbon Card! Well, folks here’s a refreshing uncut tale from one of the industries well known master distiller’s that addresses the true way to enjoy bourbon.
Jim Beam 7th generation Master Distiller Fred Noe takes us on a colorful and entertaining video journey on how to drink bourbon the proper way. In today’s politically correct world, listening to Fred will take you back 20+ years to a time when people spoke their mind. If Fred has something to say, he’s going to say it in his own proud hillbilly way.
In the video, Fred explains how his dad, Booker Noe taught him long ago how to truly enjoy a bourbon and he’s been sharing the gospel ever since.
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How to Drink Bourbon in Four Easy Steps
Step 1: Look at the Color
The lighter the color, the lighter the bourbon will be in flavor. As the bourbon gets deeper and darker in color the flavor get’s more complex. When bourbon gets cut to bottling strength with demineralized water it dilutes the color, flavor and the strength.
Step 2: Smell the Nose or the Aroma
When you put your nose into the glass to smell the bourbon, you want to part your lips or open your mouth then smell. If you don’t open your mouth the alcohol will go up your nose and you won’t really smell the bourbon.
Open your damn mouth. ~ Booker Noe, Master Distiller
Step 3: The Tasting – The Kentucky Chew
As Fred points out, this is the fun part of the entire process! You want to put the bourbon in your mouth and roll it around your entire mouth to get all the flavors. Different parts of your mouth pick up different flavors and you don’t want to miss any of them. As the bourbon is rolling around in your mouth, you want to chew on it. Fred explains that a whiskey writer coined the phrase, “The Kentucky Chew.” And the Kentucky Chew was born.
Booker had a unique way of tasting bourbon. Where he put it in his mouth and rolled it all around and chewed on it. And a whiskey writer at one time coined the term, “The Kentucky Chew” on the way my Dad tasted his bourbon. And the reason he did that is different parts of your mouth pick up different flavors. So he wanted to work that whiskey all around and chew on it.
~ Fred Noe, Jim Beam Master Distiller
Step 4: Assess the Finish
After you drink the bourbon, you want to assess the flavor it leaves behind, that’s the finish.
What is The Kentucky Hug?
One other step in the process that Fred often mentions is The Kentucky Hug. It’s a term he learned from his father 6th Generation Jim Beam Master Distiller Booker Noe. It’s really pretty simple, it’s that warm feeling you get in your throat and upper body when you take that first sip of Kentucky Bourbon.
After visually assessing the color of the bourbon, then nosing the bourbon, the next part and undoubtedly the best part, is actually tasting the bourbon. You press the glass up to your lips, tilt the bourbon into your mouth, swish it around your mouth (The Kentucky Chew) and start to assess the complex flavors then swallow it. As the amber spirits travels down your throat and into your stomach your body begins to feel a warm sensation, that my friends is ‘The Kentucky Hug’.
What’s the Proper Way to Drink Bourbon?
Drink it any damn way you want. If you want to put ice in it, go for it. You know my Mom drinks her bourbon with ginger ale and I never saw Booker give her *#!t for doing it. If you want to add a little Ginger Ale, water, cocktails. I don’t like rules on it.
~ Fred Noe, Jim Beam Master Distiller
Thanks for telling it like it is Fred!