My company has a few ‘extracurricular’ clubs that meet or connect regularly.  We have a photography group that produces some amazing work; an outdoor adventure club that plans hikes and weekend trips; and a Game of Thrones board game group that plays the game after-hours while listening to the Gregorian Chant (I’m not joking). But I knew the whiskey club would be the most excited for National Bourbon Day on June 14.

I’m no stranger to wine tastings, one of my favorite things to do in the Bay area.  I wanted to draw upon my experience sipping, observing and enjoying different flavors and apply it to bourbon (another adult interest of mine) to create a DIY bourbon tasting for my office on this glorious holiday.

Supplies Needed

2 oz. plastic shot glasses: $5.48 (or more depending on guest count)

Measured bottle pourers: $17.99

Star stickers: $5.70

6 bottles of bourbon (I list mine below): about $170

Tasting notes and mats (free printable below)

Optional: limes, oranges, nuts, chocolate, cheese & meat for pairing


Introducing Jess, your personal bourbon tasting professional.


I began by choosing six bourbons from KY Bourbon’s site, which provides awesome tasting notes.  When creating the tasting note sheets for my event, I knew I wanted to have a place for people to input their own notes, but be able to use a “cheat sheet” so they could walk away from the tasting feeling like they learned something.  It also helped me look and sound super informed.

The bottles averaged $20-$30, and one bottle of each bourbon was more than enough for about 20 participants.

I laid out platters of cheese, meat and crackers for tasters to cleanse their palates in between sips.  Cups of water also help, and can be used to cut the taste of the bourbon slightly, which gives a different, softer taste.


Bourbon Day tasting mat and note sheet.


I designed two sheets that I laid out at each tasting station: a mat with numbered placements for each shot glass that included notes on how to taste, as well as tasting sheets people could fill in with the “cheat sheet” on the opposite side.

The measured pourers make it easy to not over-fill glasses; they will only pour out one ounce of liquid at a time.  It also cuts down on mess!


A tasting in action.


To add an interactive element, I laid out sheets of star stickers for each person to stick on their favorite bourbon, creating an identifiable “fan favorite” among the bunch.  To my surprise, participants used this on the tasting notes sheet, where I had created star shapes for people to fill in with their rating of each bourbon.  Although this was not how I had planned to use the stickers, it was a happy accident that resulted in colorful sheets of notes that evoked memories of arts and crafts class in middle school (kind of funny when paired with the fact that we were drinking alcohol).


A colorful bourbon tasting sheet in process!


Participants tasting the different bourbons and taking notes.


Taking bourbon tasting notes.


The results were great – people walked away with a more refined knowledge about different types of bourbon, and surprisingly, the cheapest bottle was one of the fan favorites!  We’ll definitely be having more tastings in the future…when is National Wine Day, by the way?


Our beautiful bourbons.

Free Printables

Click to Enlarge.

sBourbonTastingMat_JessMakesFun BourbonTastingNotes_JessMakesFun