And did you even know you could be? I didn’t, until I attended an eye- (and nose-) opening tasting workshop led by nosing expert Nancy Fraley and Monique Huston, national director of spirits with the Winebow Group. It was part of the annual Bourbon Women Sip-osium.
To find out, the next time you are nosing a bourbon, hold first one side of your nose closed and then the other, and see if the aroma is more prominent for either. (It may not be.) Interestingly, unlike the eyes, the nostrils are connected to the same side of the brain on which they are located.
Other nosing/tasting tips from the workshop:
To better gauge the mouth feel of a bourbon, press the whiskey against your front teeth with your tongue, which will better isolate oiliness, etc.
The reason that alcohol is the first thing that blasts your nose is that alcohol is lighter than the other compounds in the liquid. Monique offered this tip for tasting a high-proof bourbon: After swallowing, blow a puff of air out across your tongue, like whistling without sound. That will get rid of the alcohol and “leave the good stuff behind,” allowing you to better taste the other flavors.
Read more about Nancy Fraley and her company, Nosing Services, in my book, Barrel Strength Bourbon.