The Meaning Behind the Term ‘Chewing Bourbon’

The Meaning Behind the Term 'Chewing Bourbon'

For individuals navigating the intricate and aromatic landscape of whiskey connoisseurship, the phrase ‘chewing bourbon’ might appear unusual and, to those not familiar with the vernacular, somewhat perplexing. Connoisseurs of whiskey, on the other hand, recognise that this term does not pertain to actual chewing but rather denotes a sensory experience that is both deep and significant. It’s a process that beckons those sipping on their golden nectar to slow down, be present, and truly savour the complexity within their glass.

The Science of ‘Chewing’ Spirits

When we take a ‘chew’ of bourbon, we’re doing more than simply drinking. Our olfactory and gustatory senses are called to attention. Savouring a spirit like bourbon, by taking a modest sip and letting it linger in the mouth, effectively coating the tongue, enhances stimulation of the taste buds and allows the full flavour profile to unfold. This approach, similar to the tasting techniques used for fine wines or premium coffees, is a purposeful action designed to identify the complex flavours embedded within the spirit.

The Art of a Good ‘Chew’

Not every bourbon is primed for chewing. Selecting the appropriate bottle requires one that presents a balance of sweetness, spice, and a harmonious finish. Connoisseurs often recommend opting for higher proof bourbons for such tastings, as these typically possess a greater concentration of oils, contributing to a richer and more full-bodied mouthfeel. Mash bills with a higher proportion of corn might also be recommended, as they bring forth a certain smoothness and sweetness. Swirl straight bourbon and watch how it transforms the experience.

The Sensory Symphony

Tasting bourbon is an engaging sensory experience. Initially, the aroma captivates the senses, setting the stage for the ensuing flavour profile. Like a fine meal enjoyed in slow bites, each element of the bourbon’s constitution dances across the taste buds โ€” caramel and vanilla lending sweetness, charred oak offering depth, and the sometimes biting, sometimes soothing warmth of the alcohol content harmonising it all.

The finish, the lingering whisper of the whiskey upon the palate, often reveals its final secrets. This could be a lasting sweetness, a flutter of pepper, a resonating warmth โ€” whatever it may be, the finish is the last word in the tale the bourbon tells.

Navigating the Bourbon Trail with ‘Chew’ Intact

For those new to the field, exploring the nuances of ‘chewing’ bourbon can seem as intimidating as entering a ballroom dance without knowledge of the steps. However, with an adventurous spirit and a readiness to learn, beginners too can gracefully navigate through the rich experience of bourbon tasting.

Choosing the right bottle plays a vital role. Experts advise starting with a bourbon that’s known for its approachability, one that’s beginner-friendly, with clear notes that are easily distinguishable. Establishing a relationship with your local whiskey shop or a whiskey society can also provide valuable guidance.

The next piece of advice is to breathe and take it slow. Each chew of the bourbon is a page turned in the story it tells, and rushing through it would be similar to speed-reading a classic novel โ€” technically experienced, yet void of the true essence.

All in all, ‘chewing bourbon’ is not merely a quirky term but a call to an experience that’s part science, part art, and wholly gratifying. It transforms a simple act of imbibing into a ceremonial communion with a spirit that carries with it centuries of tradition and craft. And that, fellow whiskey pilgrims, is a sip worth taking.


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