Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star Bourbon Photo

Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star Bourbon Review

In Bourbon Whiskey Reviews by Thomas Fondano6 Comments

Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star Bourbon Review Photo

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.


Last year I hosted a bourbon tasting for some friends. We tasted the entire high-rye Mash Bill #2 from Buffalo Trace which consists of Ancient Age, Elmer T. Lee, Blanton’s, Rock Hill Farms and Hancock’s President’s Reserve. The $10 Ancient Age was a surprise hit among this group of single barrel bourbons.

When I saw Ancient Ancient Age in a liquor store a month ago I was excited to give it a try. How would it compare to its younger, lower proof sibling? Let’s find out.

Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star Bourbon Review

Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star Bourbon PhotoBourbon Name:  Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star

Proof: 90

Age: 6 years

Year:  2014

How I Drank It:  Neat, in Glencairn whiskey glass.

My Nose Noticed:*  Honey | Cherry | Oak | Cedar

First Sip:  Corn | Rye | Toffee | Char | Ash

The Burn:**  More like The Burnt. Letting it roll around my mouth made me suddenly feel like I burned my entire tongue and deadened my taste buds.

Neat, Splash or Rocks:  A few drops of water sweetened the nose but seemed to dilute the better flavors and leave only the charred, ashy flavor. At this point I felt my palate wasn’t even up for trying this on the rocks. So the question became…

Straight, Old Fashioned or Manhattan: Old Fashioned. The sugar and bitters along with the slow dilution from some large ice tames the rough edges. (The Manhattan was a bust. My wife summed it up nicely,”This tastes like a Manhattan you get at a wedding.”)

Share With: People at the end of a party after all of the good stuff is gone.

Worth The Price:  I paid about $16 for this and was a little surprised at my disappointment. I definitely prefer the regular Ancient Age.

Bottle, Bar or Bust: For me it was mostly a bust, though I know this bourbon has its fans. I’d be surprised to find this in a bar, so bottle would be your best bet if you want to try it.




*I like to let my bourbon sit in the glass for at least 5 minutes before I start to smell it or have a drink. I personally find that it’s better to let some of the alcohol waft off before diving in. If I’m drinking bourbon on the rocks I skip the waiting and dive in both feet first.
**Some of you refer to this as the “finish” but let’s be honest. Don’t we all just want to know if it burns good?

Overall, I was pretty disappointed with this bottling. Maybe I got a bad bottle? If you’ve had Ancient Ancient Age 10 Star, let us know how your experience compared. Also, let us know in the comments what under $20 bourbon you’d like us to try next.





Thomas Fondano has been drinking bourbon and trying every bottling he can get his hands on since last century. While he enjoys all types of whiskeys, bourbon remains his go-to whenever he says, “I need a drink.” He lives with his wife and two children in Portland, Oregon where he makes cocktails every day at 5pm. Read Thomas' full profile.

About the Author

Thomas Fondano

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Thomas Fondano has been drinking bourbon and trying every bottling he can get his hands on since last century. While he enjoys all types of whiskeys, bourbon remains his go-to whenever he says, “I need a drink.” He lives with his wife and two children in Portland, Oregon where he makes cocktails every day at 5pm. Read Thomas' full profile.

  • Duane Zaputil says:

    Hello, Any one on here remember what the real Ancient age tasted like ? My Grandfather drank nothing but Ancient age from the 40s until he passed away in the 90s . Let me tell I grew up drinking it too when I came of age . For some reason the changed the recipe sometime around 1999 or 2000 . I remember buying a bottle one day and something was wrong . Something had changed . I had to quit drinking it and switched to JD. Over the years I would buy a bottle and try it again only to pour it out . Well about two months ago I was visiting an old friend . He said you left of bottle of Ancient age here about 15 years ago and I still have it . Well I said lets have a drink . So we poured a couple and O my God it was the Original good stuff ! Tears started running down my check as memories of my grandfather and that whisky he would give me a sip of once in awhile when I was a young one .Its was so good ! I said lets run down to the liquor store and buy a new bottle . We came back and make two drinks . The new stuff was nasty . I was right they had changed the recipe. When they made the good stuff everyone of my friends back in the 80s and 90s that I introduced it to would switch for JD and start drinking Ancient Age .Its was that good . So does anyone know how we can get them to start making it the old way again ? I would pay JD price for it . I would love to see them bring it back in the cool glass bottles they used to make it in too . They used to be narrow at the bottom and wide at the top . With a ribbon award at the top . I remember you could get 6 year old or 8 year old stuff . It was awesome . I think now with whisky drinking on the rise now would be a could time to remarket it bring it up to the original recipe and make it the award winning higher scale glass bottle whisky it used to be . I would be willing to bring what’s left in that old bottle to Kentucky if that’s what’s needed to figure out what was different . Not sue who to get in touch with about it ? Update I sent that old bottle to Buffalo Trace . They tested and agreed it was different from the stuff they make now. But said they weren’t interested in bringing it back to a top shelf whiskey . I can’t believe this considering I have seen good unopened pre 1999 bottles of Ancient Age selling upwards of $ 180.00 if you can still find one . Its that good !

    • Mike says:

      My hunch, and this is just a hunch, is that AA back then was most likely similar to the Blanton’s we know of today. Wither it was because Elmer T. Lee was around or it was housed (or at least partially) in Warehouse H (same as Blanton). Blanton’s wasn’t produced until 84 and it wasn’t near as popular as today. So something tells me the marketing dept put the original juice in a nicer horsey bottle, made it single barrel, and priced it as a premium bourbon. Thus losing those honey barrels in the AA original blend…again just total speculation, but it wouldn’t surprise me. I’ve taste tested both AAA10 vs Blanton’s and it’s very close. Blanton’s has more depth, more rounded and smooth, but the flavor profile is still there. I’m willing to bet I pour AAA10 into a Blanton’s bottle and few would question it unless tested side by side.

  • LOUIS HEALAN says:

    It should be noted that “opened” bottles of spirits degrade over time…just like wines.
    It is difficult to believe a 15yo bottle would still please the tastes of one’s youth.

  • Dennis Fitton says:

    How can I get a bottle of Ancient Ancient Age?

  • Norman Latva says:

    I have blinded the AAA vs Blanton’s the last 2 nights and I have to say it is too close to call. For the price and availability AAA for the win!


    Family loves it but so hard to find in Medina Ohio and they won’t order it for us!