Once upon a time bourbon was that stuff your dad drank after a long, hard day. But in the past few years we’ve all gone a bit spirit crazed. Bourbon production jumped more than 70 percent between 2009 and 2013 according to the Kentucky Distillers’ Association. Whiskey producers attempting to appeal to a wider audience are creating products with sweeter notes that tame its natural bite. And it seems like everyone from your dad to your younger brother has become an expert on how the type of barrels affect the taste. It’s time to get in on the trend and impress your friends and family. Host a bespoke spirit tasting to show off your spirit knowledge. Bourbon optional. I turned to Ori Geshury, Director of Education at the Aqua Vitae Institute, and Paul Zahn, beverage and event host, to get their rules for doing it right.
Stick to a Theme
Don’t overdo it. A DIY spirit tasting works best when sticking to a spirit theme. Pick gin, tequila, whiskey, cognac or rum.
“This will allow you to get a full understanding of a category and save costs,” Geshury said.
How Much To Buy
After you’ve settled on the spirit pick six or seven different types in the same category.
“If you want to get even more inventive with a spirit like tequila, pair it with chocolate and fruit,” Zahn said. “There are subtle fruit notes in blanco, reposado and anejo that are quite different.”
You’ll want to show-off a little. Read up on what makes a spirit different and discover some of the history. Geshury suggests finding out if the type of barrel makes a difference in the taste, how long it is aged and if the barrels are reused from batch to batch.
Hosting your own spirit tasting is all about having fun.
“I would recommend letting everyone have the choice to play with the ingredients and make classic drinks: an old fashioned or daiquiri,” Geshury said. “Get a plate of different fruits and let people be their own bartenders and/or make fools out of themselves while they try to emulate cocktails.”
And everyone likes a gift.
“A great parting gift for your party goers is buying some of these mini bottles and putting them in a gift bag,” Zahn said.