Barrel #091 selected by Bourbon County & Fred’s Liquor (2019)
MASH BILL – Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #1
PROOF – 90
AGE – 10 years
DISTILLERY – Buffalo Trace
PRICE – $20 for 375ml / $37 for 750ml
BUY AGAIN? – Already did!
My first experience of Eagle Rare was also a store pick, from 2016. I found it too Cherry Coke for my tastes. I picked up a bottle of the standard Eagle Rare around the same time, and it was also too Cherry Coke for me. So I thought I was done with Eagle Rare.
Since then, my tastes have continued to evolve. I’ve been very happy with the various store picks I’ve picked up from Bourbon County, a San Francisco store that often partners with another San Francisco shop, Fred’s Liquor, to procure single barrel picks of various bourbons. I picked up a 375ml bottle of their 2019 Eagle Rare pick to give the brand a second go. It won me over and I went back a week later to pick up a regular 750ml bottle. Here are the notes in brief at the uncorking of the 375ml:
COLOR – a very “bourbon” medium orange-copper
NOSE – dusty, cherry, some dark chocolate dust or shavings, a dash of fresh ground black pepper, very recognizably Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #1
TASTE – thin velvety texture, chocolate taking the lead with the cherries following, an underlying oakiness
FINISH – cherry and chocolate come into balance and linger nicely together, with the oak backing them up at first and then stepping forward as they fade, the pepperiness now very soft and fine
OVERALL – a really nice daily sipper, easygoing and tasty
Well. This was not the Cherry Coke I remembered. Gone were the cheap saccharine cherries and fizzy cola texture. The longer I nosed it, the sweeter the cherries became. But they never crossed over into cloying spectacle. The cherry aspects also remained very pleasing with time and air in the glass, reminding me of what I enjoy about the much more aggressive Stagg Jr., another Buffalo Trace mash bill #1 variation.
The taste then lets the chocolate flavors lead the cherry aspects by the hand along a smooth oak plank. A lovely balance is struck here between the chocolate, cherry, and oak flavors. It’s all a bit watery at 90 proof. But it’s very easy sipping. For challenges, I’d pour a shot of the barrel-proofed Stagg Jr. But if I want a more easygoing take on the Buffalo Trace mash bill #1 experience, this Bourbon County / Fred’s Liquor Eagle Rare pick delivers.
The finish leaves behind a nicely balanced memory of the tasting experience, allowing the various flavors to linger gently but discernibly. They won’t distract you from whatever else you’re up to. But they don’t just fade out, either.
I poured a sample of Stagg Jr. Batch #11 afterwards. It indeed came across as a more forceful rendition of this Eagle Rare pick, offering a clue into what a barrel proof Eagle Rare might be.
Another lesson here is how one’s own tastes can evolve over time. Then there’s how the single barrel phenomenon provides variables within the same product. The possibilities within any bourbon are literally as varied as the weather.
Pick up an Eagle Rare store pick if you can. They’re very affordable, especially for 10-year single barrel bourbons in today’s ridiculous whiskey-buying climate. This nicely aged Buffalo Trace product provides pleasures that are easy without stooping to simplicity. I prefer Stagg Jr., despite its younger age, due to the oomph of its undiluted proof. Eagle Rare 10-Year at barrel proof? I’d be there in a second.
Perhaps Buffalo Trace Distillery will indulge us at some point with an Eagle Rare barrel proof. Until then, exceptional store picks like this make the wait easy.