Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon Review

Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon Review

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 →

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2014 Parker’s Heritage Collection Whiskey Review

Disclaimer: A sample of the 2014 Parker’s Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey was provided to us by Heaven Hill for this review. I appreciate their willingness to allow Bourbon & Banter to review the whiskey with no strings attached. Thank you.


Every year I look forward to learning what type of bourbon will be released as part of the Parker’s Heritage Collection (PHC) from Heaven Hill. So imagine my surprise when I learned that a bourbon wasn’t being released as part of PHC this year. Instead, they decided to release a wheat whiskey this year. I’m not going to lie to you that I was a bit concerned upon hearing the news. I’ve never been big on wheat whiskey, especially the Bernheim Wheat whiskey that’s on the market today. It’s a good product but not something that really appeals to my personal palate. So here’s hoping that this year’s release can convince me to reconsider the merits of wheat whiskey.

Continue Reading →

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Jimmy Russell: The Man Behind the Bourbon

The folks over at Wild Turkey created this video to celebrate Jimmy Russell and his 60 years of making bourbon at Wild Turkey. It’s a terrific tribute to the “Buddha of Bourbon”.

Here’s a few words from the release that accompanied the video:

It is with great excitement that I share with you a new documentary that celebrates the illustrious career of one of the most revered figures in the Bourbon industry – Wild Turkey Master Distiller Jimmy Russell.  Jimmy has been making Bourbon at Wild Turkey’s distillery in Lawrenceburg, KY for an incredible 60 years, and has made numerous contributions to the Bourbon industry that have earned him a place in the Bourbon Hall of Fame™ and lead him to be one of only six people in the 134-year history of the Kentucky Distillers’ Association to be given a lifetime honorary membership.

Jimmy has made more friends than he can count as he has traveled the world, from New York to Japan, spreading the gospel of Wild Turkey Bourbon. Many of these friends, including Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear and Fred Noe, Jim Beam’s grandson, are amongst the people who enthusiastically stepped up for this documentary to share their fond memories of Jimmy and give praise to the man known as the “Buddha of Bourbon” and the “Master Distiller’s Master Distiller.”

Hope you enjoy the video!


PS – I was personally pretty excited to see my bald head appear in 3 or 4 scenes of the video. They shot some of the footage while I was attending Jimmy’s 60th anniversary celebration a few months ago.


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St. Louis Bourbon Academy 2014

St. Louis Bourbon Academy 2014

Bourbon Heritage Month keeps getting better and better. We’re pleased to announce that the Filson Bourbon Academy is returning to St. Louis on October 11th. Bourbon Hall of Fame member, Mike Veach, will once again be our host and will personally be responsible for boosting your bourbon IQ at least 160%.

This year we’ve partnered with Glen Echo Country Club to host the event and we’re looking forward spending the day learning about bourbon with other like-minded folks from the St. Louis area. Here’s all the details you need to know.

Filson Bourbon Academy with author & historian Michael Veach

Saturday, October 11th, 11-5pm at Glen Echo Country Club, St. Louis

The Filson Bourbon Academy  answers every question you ever had about the native spirit of the United States, but were afraid to ask.

  • “Was there any one person that invented Bourbon?”
  • “Why did rye whiskey fall out of favor until recently?”
  • “Where did Bourbon REALLY get it’s name?”
  • “How did whiskey end up aging in wood?”
  • “What makes an American whiskey a Bourbon?”
  • “What whiskeys were still being made during Prohibition?”

Come enhance your appreciation of Bourbon and increase your knowledge of Kentucky whiskey products at the Filson Bourbon Academy. This class is supported by the Kentucky Distillers Association, Bourbon & Banter and Glen Echo Country Club.

This six hour course will consist of lectures & stories pertaining to the history of Bourbon in Kentucky, as well as Bourbon tastings.

Topics to be addressed include:

  • “Farmer Distillers and the Birth of Bourbon”
  • “Bourbon and the Industrial Revolution”
  • “The Early 20th Century and Prohibition”
  • “Post-Prohibition and the Modern Era of Bourbon”

St. Louis Bourbon Academy 2014Join Michael Veach, former archivist for the legendary Stitzel-Weller Distillery and the Filson Historical Society in Louisville, KY , a recent inductee into the Bourbon Hall of Fame and author of the new bestselling book “Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey: An American Heritage” as he answers any & all questions about the true American spirit, in a condensed 6-hour version of his 4-week long Filson Bourbon Academy on the History of American Whiskey on Saturday, November 11th, from 11 AM-5 PM at Glen Echo Country Club – 3401 Lucas-Hunt Road, Normandy, MO 63121.

Tuition is $125 and all proceeds go to benefit the non-for-profit Filson Historical Society. This price includes lunch for each participant.

All attendees completing the course will be certified as a member of the Filson Bourbon Academy and made honorary members of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail.

Attendance is extremely limited so sign-up quickly. (Only 50 seats available)

You must be at least 21 years of age to enroll.

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