We have nosed and enjoyed the aromas of our favorite (or at least a Bourbon we enjoy) Bourbon until our palate demands that we give it a taste of what the nose has promised.
Our experience is that the nose may have over or under promised the taste to come. Strange to say, but the nose is not a perfect prognosticator of taste, so be prepared.
As you took your time with the nosing, so must you also take your time with the sipping. NEVER gulp Bourbon if it is your intent to maximize taste. If you gulp, you will bypass the more sensitive parts of your mouth and only taste (or sense) alcohol and spice.
Our palate seems to have three parts.
Upfront is the sweet taster. If there is sweetness in the Bourbon you are sipping, it will appear on the tip of the tongue. Sweetness is a major component of the taste of Bourbon and derives primarily from the barrel (some say exclusively, but not Us).........give it a chance, if you drink Bourbon too quickly, you may miss the sweetness.
Mid-palate is the crossover point. The sweetness gives way (not completely in the best Bourbons) to the spice as the Bourbon asserts it Bourbonness in distinction to all other whiskies or spirits. Our opinion is that the mid-palate is where true complexity in Bourbon begins........does the sweetness work with the other emerging flavors......things like vanilla, maple, caramel, oak, spices both mild and sharp, fruits both dark and deep or cirtusy, nuts, leather, chocolate, grains like corn or wheat or rye, and Lord knows what else, individual drinkers find their own uniques flavors. No one knows Bourbon beyond his or her puny capacities! Bourbon is like a Box of Chocolate.........you never know what you are going to get!
The back of the mouth is where things leave their mark. Our belief is that a short finish means that someone listened more than they should have to the accountants and marketers who want production above everything. The finish is like the finale to a great symphony. It is of a piece with the whole effect of the sip of Bourbon and brings it to a complex conclusion. Ideally it should be a suming up of what went before. If the Bourbon was sweet and rich, there should be some remnents in the finish. If it was spicy and fruity, they should be there in the finish. Our opinion is that if the Bourbon was soft in its sweetness and subtle in its spice it will be soft and subtle in its finish.
For Us, no taste experience exceeds that of our favorite Bourbons..........hungry as we get, no food satisfies our palate more than Bourbon (We will eat before We drink, of course, but only because it sustains our life and life demands sustanence before pleasure).
Bourbon drinking is an Art, treat it with proper respect and it will never disappoint you!
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas