The Best Way to Taste Bourbon, According to an Expert

Most of us have a vague idea of how to properly taste wine. See, sniff, swirl, sip. But it’s the bourbon category that’s capturing our boozy imagination. It’s becoming increasingly broad and inventive, with an array of aging methods, cask finishes, and more. Which left us wondering: Is there a right way to imbibe the stuff? Is it poor form to drink premium bourbon on the rocks? What, exactly, is the best way to taste bourbon?

To find out, we sent Senior Editor Sal Vaglica to belly up to the proverbial bar with Trey Zoeller, founder of Jefferson’s Bourbon, a Kentucky-based distillery celebrating its 20th anniversary.

The main takeaway: However you enjoy drinking bourbon is the right way to drink bourbon—an ice cube, a splash of water, or neat. (It’s been said that if you like your Pappy Van Winkle with Coke, do it—but your friends at Men’s Journal strongly discourage it.)

So grab a bottle of your favorite brown elixir—Sal and Trey are drinking Jefferson’s Oceans, which we do encourage—and feel free to follow along at home.