The most important thing about drinking whiskey is to remember that everybody’s senses are different and every whiskey reaches everybody differently. Drink what you like, but do it with class and respect. Don’t go guzzling a whiskey that has spent at least 4 years preparing itself in a barrel just for you. It’s disrespectful to the whiskey and everyone involved with the process.
First, notice the color of the whiskey. For the most part, color is not a huge factor in whiskey because there are a lot of factors that go in to color, and they are not near as important as smell and taste. Generally speaking, a darker bourbon will indicate that it either spent a long time in the barrels, or the bourbon was bottled right out of the barrels without being diluted or filtered.
Second, give the whiskey a good smell. Smell it a few times, and try to not to disturb the whiskey too much because it will make it harder to smell through the alcohol. Notes to look for in bourbon are usually something sweet mixed with something oaky. The exact nature of these notes varies greatly, as does how each drinker describes them. Bourbon whiskey has a distinct and potent smell that often fills a room with the pure delight of the natural gifts of the American heartland.
Third, give the whiskey a good taste; take a good swig and “chew” it around in your mouth so as to get the full effect. After a few seconds, swallow it over the center of your tongue to get the full effect of the finish (which is my favorite aspect of most bourbons). Many bourbons have a similar taste to the way they smell, but this also varies greatly between whiskeys.
Overall, what matters about a whiskey is whether or not you like it, and whether or not you can afford it. Our goal will be to provide the gateway for people to learn to love great spirits without going crazy on cash.