Welcome to a new tasting series on lower shelf bourbons. Bourbon & Banter contributor, Thomas Fondano, will be trying out and commenting on bourbons priced under $20. Knowing that not all sub-$20 bourbons will be great, Thomas will be adding a new category to our standard tasting notes – Straight, Old Fashioned or Manhattan – to see whether a classic cocktail improves on a straight tasting. We hope you enjoy this new series of reviews and hope you’ll help us shape future reviews by letting us know in the comments what sub-$20 bourbon you’d like us to review next.
Buffalo Trace makes a lot of different bourbons but they only have a few mash bills. Age and placement in the warehouses determine the rest. Their #1 mash bill is a low-rye bill (less than 10%) and makes some big names: Eagle Rare, George T. Stagg and Stagg Jr., Colonel E.H. Taylor, the eponymous Buffalo Trace, Old Charter and McAfee’s Benchmark. We’ll be looking at that last one for today’s review.
Benchmark Old No. 8 bourbon was created by Seagram’s in the late 1960s as a luxury brand and was originally named Benchmark Bourbon. It was produced at the Four Roses distillery when Seagram’s owned it. The brand name was purchased by Sazerac in 1992 and McAfee’s was added to the name in honor of the McAfee brothers who surveyed a site just north of Frankfort in the late 1700s. Continue Reading →