Old Ezra Barrel Strength Bourbon Review
A tremendous value in today's market, but not as flavorful as some of the more expensive barrel proof options.
Type: Bourbon whiskey
Distillery: undisclosed, distilled and aged in Kentucky
Proof: 117 proof
Age: 7 years
Retail: I paid $49.99
Medium amber. The color fits well with the copper and bronze label detail, but looks a little lighter in a glass than it does in the bottle.
Caramel, vanilla and oak present themselves first. There's a hint of a tart fruit note, but nothing unexpected beyond that. It's not as aggressive as I expected for a barrel proof bourbon.
My first thought is that it's hotter than I expected based on the nose. It's not overwhelming, but I wasn't expecting this kick. The classic bourbon notes of vanilla and oak come through. There's a dry, leathery flavor going on that isn't my favorite, but a couple drops of water help ease that off a bit and bring forward a sweeter side with honey and caramel.
Medium to long with more oak and even a little sweet corn making an appearance.
It took me a long time to find this bottle, so by the time I got my hands on one, I'd already seen what a lot of high-profile whiskey drinkers think of this stuff. Perhaps that boosted my expectations a bit too much, but I was hoping for more with this bourbon. Don't get me wrong, it's good and I'll have no problem finishing this bottle, but I just couldn't find anything special going on that could take this from good to great. On the flip side, as a $40-$50, age-stated, barrel-proof bourbon, it's a tremendous value in today's market. I've had a lot of bourbon at nearly twice this price that wasn't as good as this. It's a great value option in the barrel proof world, so that earns it some points, but this one won't be knocking Elijah Craig Barrel Proof or some of my other full-strength favorites off my shelf.
This is a general guide of what I consider each score range
4.75 - 5.00: Phenomenal. Hard to imagine anything better. Acquire at any cost
4.25 - 4.50: Excellent. I'll camp out to get a bottle if necessary
3.75 - 4.00: Great stuff. I'll buy backups if not too expensive
3.25 - 3.50: Good stuff. Try to keep one on the bar, but don't spend too much
2.75 - 3.00: Not bad. I don't regret the purchase, but may not buy another
2.25 - 2.50: Sub-par. I regret the purchase. Reserved for mixed drinks.
1.75 - 2.00: Bad. I'll struggle to finish the bottle. May not want it in cocktails.
0.00 - 1.50: Drain-pour. Something seems wrong with it. Get it away