All bourbons are whiskeys, but not every whiskey is a bourbon. To make things more confusing, each bourbon has its own personality and flavor. That’s why people who love it enjoy tasting and collecting different types. When it comes to bourbon, you can’t judge a book by its cover—or, in this case, a bottle by its label. You’ve got to see, smell, taste, and feel each note to understand what makes certain bourbons rarer than others.
It’s in the Barrel
The term “notes” refers to the color, aroma, and taste of the bourbon, and even to the feel of it on your tongue. The notes in a bourbon appeal to our senses, and the barrels in which they age play a very important role in the formation of the notes. Bourbons are aged in barrels—often oak—and each barrel leaves its mark on the bourbon. More unique barrels give way to rarity in bourbon. Charred barrels and barrels that once held port wine or sherry are some types that make a bourbon rare.
Better With Age
Just like you, bourbon gets better with age. Sometimes what makes certain bourbons rarer than others is the fact that they’re aged for many years—sometimes decades—before being distilled into bottles for us to enjoy.
As we mentioned, tasting bourbon is all about the notes. The more unique and impressive the notes are, the rarer the bourbon. Let’s break down the different ways notes make a bourbon unique:
- Sight: The first one of our senses to meet a glass of bourbon is our sight. We see how it looks. Some bourbons have basic amber colors, while others have a deep richness to them. We also notice how the bourbon adheres to the glass as we swirl it.
- Aroma: Next, we smell the fabulous aroma. Our noses are windows to our taste buds. The smells tease us with what we’re about to taste. The fascinating thing about bourbon is its ability to give us the aromas of a couple notes and yet different notes when we taste.
- Taste: For most of us, this is the most important part of a tasting, and we want these notes to be top notch. A rare bourbon may surprise us with new notes we haven’t encountered before or notes so layered that we’re surprised as just one sip reveals each one.
- Feel: A rare and unique bourbon leaves a feeling in our mouths that we’ll notice is different from the feel of other bourbons. It may also leave a feel for a time after we’ve swallowed the bourbon. Common “feels” may be described as velvety, buttery, or smooth.
The most common notes found in many bourbons are butter, caramel, orange, cinnamon, vanilla, honey, butterscotch, dark fruits, pepper, tobacco, and even leather.
As you can see, bourbon is fascinating and layered, and each one is unique. When you’re collecting or tasting, keep an open mind and find out what you prefer in a bourbon.
When you’re seeking to buy rare bourbon online, trust VS Liquor to help you find what you need. We love bourbon as well, and we’re happy to discuss the topic with you. You can also browse our online store for convenient ordering and shipping.