The 5 Best Ways to Drink Bourbon (Pros and Cons) for Beginners

Written by Mark Pringle |

There are many ways to drink bourbon, and there may be no one way that is “the best,” considering everyone has a personal preference. With that in mind, what are the standard and most popular ways to drink bourbon, and what are the pros and cons of each method? Let's find out how to drink bourbon and the five best ways.

5. On the Rocks (with Ice)

On the Rocks


If you cannot tolerate bourbon at its bottled proof, drinking it on the rocks will help you. Drinking bourbon like this is an excellent way for beginners to introduce themselves to bourbon. Drinking bourbon on the rocks will lessen the burn generally associated with whiskey served at room temperature with no ice or additives.


Drinking bourbon with ice will invariably water down the flavor and the proof of the bourbon. It will also make the bourbon cold. This will cause the bourbon to be less flavorful. Additionally, if you are a bourbon enthusiast, you cannot evaluate bourbon effectively when drinking it on the rocks.

4. Cold (with whiskey stones)

Whiskey Cooling Stones


Many whiskey drinkers prefer to drink their spirits cold. Using whiskey stones gives you the benefit of this personal preference while not diluting the flavor of the bourbon.


The full flavor of bourbon is released at room temperature. Anytime you make whiskey cold, it will negatively impact the taste.

3. Drop of Water (Room Temperature)

Drop of Water


Adding a drop of water to your whiskey can unleash flavors you would otherwise not notice. If you are a bourbon enthusiast, you should enhance your tasting experience by identifying the various notes a drop of water releases.


There are no drawbacks to adding a drop of water, even if you are a whiskey purist.

2. Neat

Neat Bourbon


Drinking bourbon neat means experiencing it at room temperature, straight, with no ice or water and no additives.  You are getting the full flavor of the bourbon as desired by the distillery. Remember that if you are not drinking a barrel strength or cask-strength bourbon, the distillery has already watered down the whiskey. Cask-strength or barrel-strength bourbons inherently have a higher concentration of flavor. When bourbon enthusiasts grade or rate a bourbon’s tasting experience, it is always graded neat.


Drinking bourbon neat may be difficult if you are new to the whiskey-tasting experience. Many people cannot handle the “burn” of a bourbon that is not watered down

1. In Cocktails



Cocktails are much more universally enjoyed than the other ways listed. They can be designed to your taste which makes them the perfect drink. There are no good or bad cocktails; there are only cocktails that meet your preferences, so they will be good.


There are no drawbacks to cocktails. With hundreds of different cocktail varieties, you only need to find the mixed drink you enjoy.

Author: Mark Pringle
Smell IS taste. I am just a guy who has been hit with the bourbon bug and who has come to the conclusion that life is too short to drink average tasting bourbons. Go Gators!
My External Website (External Website Opens in New Window)


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