Kentucky Straight Bourbon
$20 US Retail
Flavors are pronounced and fun. The finish is well-balanced.
The nose is a bit hot. Overall, the flavors are a bit thin.
Even if this bourbon sounds unfamiliar to you, you’ve probably seen it on the shelf at many liquor stores (if you look low enough). This bourbon has a long history dating back to the 1940’s, and is currently contract distilled by Buffalo Trace for Age International, the former owners of the Buffalo Trace Distillery who sold everything to Sazerac in the early 90’s except for the rights to the bourbon brands that use what we now call Buffalo Trace’s “mash bill #2” This means that for all essential purposes, Ancient Age (and for that matter, Blantons, Rock Hill Farms, and Elmer T Lee) is a Buffalo Trace product. But at some distant corporate level, its not. For a more thorough and eloquent explanation of these things, check out Chuck Cowdery’s write up about them.
Don’t get this confused with the standard Ancient Age, which is younger whiskey bottled at 80 proof. Both AA and AAA can be found throughout the U.S. and AAA will typically run you $15-20.
- Distilled and aged by Buffalo Trace using the high-rye mash bill #2.
- Approximately 6 years old. The previous 10 year age statement was dropped for the new “10 Star” label.
- Bottled at 45% ABV (90 proof)
Nose: A touch of ethanol hits you before the aroma opens up into honey, faint caramel and oak. There are some sweet corn and warm baked sugar cookies to round things out.
Palate: A blast of raisins, light caramel, and sweet oak rush over your taste buds. There is some corn and honey that fills out the body, with a bit of spicy clove underneath.
Finish: Candied fruits and caramel, creamy notes of oak vanillins, and a sweetness that I typically find more in wheated whiskeys. The finish is well balanced and light but not lacking in flavors.
Buying Recommendation: Worth buying a pour. I’m very impressed with the overall body of the drink. It’s light for me but the flavors are pronounced and fun. If I was going to knock it I would say it’s not that complex and its too thin as far as bourbons go. The low price tag and solid flavors are the biggest perk of this drink. It competes admirably at the 20$ range but just doesn’t have the depth to make it much more than an above average pour at a nice cheap price.
At WBSE we use a true 100 point scale for scoring to allow whiskeys to further differentiate themselves (as opposed to a letter grade scale where 90% of whiskeys fall between 78-92). This allows you to more easily compare scores between different whiskeys. Here is how the scale breaks down:
1-49: Varying degrees of bad
60-69: Better than average
90+: Truly Exceptional
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