I’ve featured whiskey on the blog off and on as a spin-off to the In the Woods barrel aged beers feature, but I’ve been getting a little more seriously into whiskey lately, and thought it would be fun to do some tasting style reviews of whiskies. I haven’t had a lot to write about lately, with the pandemic, most of my normal topics have disappeared. I haven’t brewed since January, or judged a competition since February. Competitions, festivals and conferences have all been cancelled and I haven’t even been travelling that much to visit new breweries. At least tasting whiskey is something I can do from the safety of my own house.
I’ll use a 5 star rating system, similar to my beer reviews and Untappd. A lot of online rankings I see (such as Reddit) use a 10 star, but I don’t think I need to differentiate that much. Also, most people’s #1 is “Drain pour”. I’ve only poured out a partial bottle of liquor once, so that’s unlikely to happen again. I’ll at least mix it with coke or something to get rid of it. So my scale will be:
1 Star – Mix with something to get rid of it.
2 Star – Solid mixer, great for quick mixes like Coke, 7up, Orange juice etc.
3 Star – Good enough to drink on it’s own. Possibly good for “fancy” cocktails, like an Old Fashioned or Manhattan.
4 Star – Fantastic on it’s own. Could make into a high end cocktail, but not needed.
5 star – Blows you away. Don’t mix with anything. Life changing on it’s own.
Might as well start with the bottle that’s in the cabinet right now. Nothing fancy, but it’s a good enough place to start.
McAfee’s Benchmark Old No 8:
Style: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
Produced by: Buffalo Trace
Origin: Kentucky, USA
Proof: 80 (40% ABV)
Age: At least 36 months (per label)
Price: $11.95 USD (Oregon, USA)
Aroma: Light Brown Sugar, heavy fusel alcohols, burns the nose.
Flavor: Heavy Brown sugar, light maple, very light smoke, very hot in the mouth. Long finish, lingers.
Tasted with an ice cube:
Aroma: Heavy maple sweetness, light caramel/brown sugar, very light smoke/char.
Flavor: Light brown sugar, light maple, long finish. Very light smoke. Very light cinnamon/rye spice very late in the finish.
Verdict: 2 stars (almost 3). Very solid bourbon for it’s price. In my opinion, it’s head and shoulders above others in that range like Evan Williams White Label, Old Crow, etc. Hence, the almost 3 star. I probably wouldn’t use it to make an Old Fashioned (although, I’ll likely try it before the bottle is empty) but it’s great on ice or mixed with coke. I picked it because I’m a big fan of the Buffalo Trace portfolio and this doesn’t disappoint.
Recommendation: Great for mixing with coke or 7UP (7 and 7 style). Remarkably high quality for a $12 bottle of bourbon.