Despite what Ron Swanson says, there is a right way to drink whiskey. Especially if it’s a quality bourbon like Maker’s Mark, Knob Creek, or Four Roses. 

I know you may be used to mixing Jack and cokes with plastic-bottled whiskey that wafts like rubbing alcohol, because getting drunk is getting drunk, but according to whiskey experts like Jane Bowie, the Master of Maturation at Maker’s Mark Distillery, here is the ‘historically’ correct, gentlemanly way to drink whiskey. 

It’s called “The Kentucky Chew,” and it’s a fancy way of getting the glorious amber spirit into your mouth and belly. 

Obviously called “Kentucky Chew,” because bourbon is made almost completely in Kentucky. For bros still crushing Smirnoff Ice, bourbon is an all-American whiskey and must be made here in the U.S. of A. Ninety-five percent of bourbon comes from the Bluegrass State. 

“I first heard the term “The Kentucky Chew,” was from Fred Noe, the great-grandson of Jim Beam and current Master Distiller there,” Bowie tells Rooster. 

Get a glass of whiskey and follow Bowie’s directions:

  1. Pour a good whiskey into a glass. Maker’s Mark is created to sit on the front of your palate and taste sweeter rather than more bitter, so it’s a great whiskey to start your adventure into manhood. 
  2. Don’t put the liquor in your mouth. Start by sniffing or “nosing the whiskey,” Bowie says. “You nose the whisky by putting your nose in the glass, but with your mouth open. This allows the whisky to waft up through the nose and out through the mouth, so that you can almost taste as you smell. If you don’t open your mouth, you won’t get all the aromas, and may just smell alcohol.”
  3. “Take a small sip and roll it around the tongue – don’t cheat a single taste bud,” Bowie says. “This does two things: First, it acclimates your nerves to the alcohol. Bourbon by law has to be at least 80 proof, so we are talking about stronger stuff. Second, as the whisky heats up it releases and allows alcohol to get out of the way, so you can actually taste the FLAVOR of the whisky.” 

This is why taking shots is largely a dumbass idea because you don’t taste any of the flavor and yet all the alcohol… but shots have their place in life, we get it.  

  1. Take your time. Everyone knows how to drink whiskey, but not many know how to taste it. Bowie compares this to eating food. “When I’m in a hurry and I’m eating fast, I don’t stop to enjoy the taste and flavors of my meal.”
  2. Swallow the whiskey and there won’t be much of a burn except some heat on the tongue. 
  3. Repeat X10. 

Ok, so why should we do The Kentucky Chew?


“It allows you to really dive into all those wonderful and complex flavors the distiller worked so hard to create, and helps us appreciate the time and patience that went into the delicate art of maturation,” Bowie says, “Sipping and letting it breathe, it will change and unlock new and interesting flavors.”


But if you prefer your Smirnoff Ice, by all means.