Thursday, February 14, 2019

Old Ezra 7 Year Barrel Strength Kentucky Straight Bourbon

- $35
- 117 Proof
- 7 Years
- Kentucky

Old Ezra has been on the shelves for quite a long time now, without very much fanfare at all. At most, all I had heard was that their 7 year, 101 proof bourbon is a "solid pour," something I've heard said about many otherwise sub-par bourbons. So, I've never given it a whole lot of thought. However, seemingly out of nowhere, Luxco released a barrel strength bourbon, and suddenly there was this Old Ezra product out there that became a must-have.

In this case, I'm sure price had played a significant role. After all, how many other barrel proof bourbons at this age (or younger for that matter) can you find on the shelves for $35-40?  With that price and with reviewers consistently giving it high marks, I had to track it down. Best of all, that didn't prove to be a very difficult task, merely involving walking into my local store and asking for it.

The nose came across as a mix of vanilla, cloves and cinnamon. It had that spicy baking aroma that reminds me of Christmas time. Complementing the vanilla and cinnamon was this unsweetened apple note that really put the exclamation point on it.  It smelled rich and sweet, but also had that balance of oak to temper that sweetness. Most noticeably, however, was how pungent was. These aromas weren't merely "there," but are strong and up front. The alcohol was strong as well, giving a nice burn, but that seemed to fade away pretty quickly.

Right up front I was hit with a heavy dose of cinnamon which sat on the tip of my tongue. Slowly, however, other notes seemed to overcome that cinnamon note. I got a nice, sweet maple syrup note, along with a bright cherry. Those flavors blended into a delicious combination. This bourbon had a nice, oily texture to it, that allowed the flavors to stick around for quite a while and kind of meld together.

On the back end, I got a lot of brown sugar and sweet cinnamon, like red hots candies. That was balanced, however, by a mild vanilla bean flavor. I also still got that cherry note, although on the back end it reminded me more of cooked cherries. That cooked cherry note lingered for a long time on the finish, which is quite frankly what I think made me decide that I love this bourbon.

The only minor quibble was on the finish, though, where I got a slight tannic bitterness that, along with the heat from the high proof, seemed to distract from all the other good flavors that were going on.

I recently had a discussion with a good friend of mine about my reviews, and he was of hte mind that reviews should be done in a vacuum, with no consideration of price. While I understand his viewpoint, this is one of those bottles that reminds me why I take price into consideration when I'm giving my grade. Because, if this were a $55 bottle, like Booker's or Stagg Jr., it would probably be right on par, perhaps even receiving a slightly lower grade. But at the $35-40 range, this is an incredible bourbon for the price, one worth stocking up on.

Grade: B+/A-

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