Hosting an at home bourbon tasting party is so much fun and a great way to find your favorite bourbon without spending a ton of money! It’s also such a fun way to get friends together!
We decided to do an at home bourbon tasting party one night after looking for events that hosted them. Since 2020, it’s been easier to just do things at home — and if you’re up for it — this is such a fun thing to try with friends!
The whole tasting took about an hour and then we also had dinner. I’d say 15-20 minutes was taken with each whiskey, but as the host you can tailor the event to your preferences too!
How do you host a bourbon tasting party?
Hosting an at home bourbon tasting party is easier than you might think! You’ll want to choose your bourbons, decide on glassware and food, hand out paper or a tasting card, and provide some water or bucket to use between samples.
For our bourbon tasting, we kept things easy. We chose 3 entry level bourbons to try and knew what we were drinking each time because we didn’t have an affiliation to any of the brands. You could do a blind tasting and reveal the results after as well or bring in an expert for an educational tasting party.
5 Steps to Hosting Your Own Bourbon Tasting at Home
1. Choose Your Bourbon
You’ll want to decide on a theme like Tennessee whiskeys, traditional bourbon made with rye, or bourbons of the same age or proof. We recommend only comparing 3 at a time so your tongue doesn’t get burned — where it can’t distinguish the different flavors as well.
Here are a few ideas:
- Taste Similar Varieties:
- Choose bourbons with wheat or rye
- Bourbons from the same state or region
- Multiple bourbons from the same distiller
- Taste the same bourbon brand but in another year
- Choose bourbons with the same proof but different distilleries
- Taste Differing Bourbons:
- Choose different states or regions for each sample
- Compare single barrels from different distillers
- Use various proofs or ages
- Rare tastings
- Compare rare or limited release bourbons, or compare them to the corresponding regular-release bourbons.
- Compare different kinds of whiskeys
- All bourbon is whiskey, but there are different types like scotch or rye vs wheat whiskey.
Popular Wheat Bourbons
- Maker’s Mark
- Larceny Bourbon
- Redemption Wheated Bourbon
- Rebel Yell Kentucky Straight Bourbon
- Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond
- Old Grand-Dad Bonded
- Basil Hayden’s Bourbon
- Four Roses
- Bulleit Bourbon
- Old Forester
- Woodford Reserve Bourbon
Bourbons with a Variety of Corn, Rye and Wheat
Our Entry Level Bourbon Tasting
2. Choose the Bourbon Glasses
If you want to do a true tasting, you’ll want to have Bourbon glasses for each person and each sample. For our tasting of 3 whiskeys and 3 people, we needed 9 glasses. We used Glencairn Whisky Glasses.
You can always use a solo cup or another type of glass, but a “true taster” would want the proper glass. So it just depends on your group of friends getting together. You may also want a measuring utensil to make sure everyone has exactly 1.5 ounces of each sample. With that said, you can also free pour if you and your guests are looking for a laid-back vibe!
You may also want water & a bucket.
You may want to use distilled water (or iron-free water) to “splash the bourbon” or open it up — the equivalent of swirling a glass of wine in our non-expert opinion. To “open it up”, you’ll just need a tiny drop in each glass if you decide to do it. We used a straw to add it in.
Your guests may also like a sip between tastings as well, and they may also choose to spit each sample after tasting it — thus, the need for the bucket.
3. Choose your Bourbon Tasting Menu
You may be wondering, “What food goes with bourbon tasting?”
We like to serve corn chips, saltines, cheeses, chocolate, dried fruit, fries, nuts, country ham, sausage, or similar salted meats, and olives at a bourbon tasting party. You may also choose to do a full meal like chicken and waffles, bacon cheeseburgers, and chocolate cupcakes.
4. Provide Tasting Notes and Pencils
Part of the fun of a bourbon tasting is noting what you like or dislike about each one! Your tasting sheet can be simple — a few ideas to include on the tasting notes would be:
Whatever you include, you’ll want to let your guests know before starting the tasting and give them time to write down their thoughts between each sample.
5. Keep it Safe
Of course, you want to keep your at-home bourbon tasting party safe! Everyone should be over 21 years old and needs to be responsible. As the host, you need to make sure no one is drinking and driving. Consider doing the tasting at the beginning of the night and then showing a movie or watching a sports game after.
Also, make sure sure your guests have designated drivers or call an Uber or Lyft to go home if they’re not 100% sober when they want to leave.
Let us know how your Bourbon Tasting Party went by tagging us on Instagram!
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