Monday, April 3, 2023

Eagle Rare 17 Year Kentucky Straight Bourbon - 2020

- $120
- 101 Proof
- 17 Years
- Kentucky

This is one of those bottles that I felt luck to have been able to obtain. It is Eagle Rare, after all, that really opened my eyes to the bourbon world. Having started my whiskey journey in the Scotch world, it wasn't until a local liquor store clerk suggested that I give Eagle Rare a try that I really started trying out and learning about bourbon.

Eagle Rare is still one of my favorite under $50 bottles, and it's always one of the top three whenever I'm asked for that recommendation. This bottle, of course, takes that up a notch or four. It obviously ups the age from 10 years to 17 years, which is no small jump. But, it also punches up the proof from 90 proof  101 proof.  It's a much older and stronger Eagle Rare, and I couldn't wait to try it. Although I opened this bottle immediately when I got it, I held onto the last three or so pours for a really long time, simply not wanting it to be gone. But, all good things must come to an end, so finally the other night I shared the last few pours with good friends and called it a day.

The age on this bourbon was immediately noticeable on the nose. I got healthy oak notes right up front, but there was also a soft sweetness to it as well. I got notes of caramel and dark chocolate, reminding me a bit of a turtle bar. It even had some rich walnut notes to it.  It smelled decadent and delicious, very much like something you'd get from a good chocolatier, even if the nose wasn't all that pungent. 

As to the flavor, right up front I got a sweet but smooth caramel note, like that good, soft caramel used in Godiva chocolates--sweet, rich, smooth and creamy. It also had an oak note tagging along, but, given the prominent oak note on the nose, it was surprisingly nowhere near as oak-forward on the palate. Rather, it seemed to add a sort of a light roastiness, kind of like a coffee note but without the bitterness. Perhaps like a coffee ice cream?

The wood influence was certainly there, but it was almost a sweet wood note, if that makes sense. Kind of like almond or pecan or even hazelnut, where it has that soft sweetness to it, along with the nutty, earthy note and even a touch of bitterness.  But the caramel was always the backbone to everything, always bringing it back to the traditional bourbon notes.

It wasn't until the finish that the cinnamon spice finally kicked in. This was the one thing I felt was missing, but on the finish it came through along with an amaretto liqueur note, to add just a bit of that tanginess hitting the sides of my tongue and lingering in the back of my throat. There was also a healthy amount of vanilla that seemed to linger, which really didn't show up anywhere other than on the finish.

I'm so happy I got to try this bottle. It didn't necessarily blow me away like I had hoped it would, but it is certainly still a fantastic bottle.  And it does the trick as an older, punchier Eagle Rare. I have no regrets over finally finishing off those last few pours.

Grade: A-

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