Image of Eagle Rare and pour in Glencairn Glass

Kettle Corn Bourbon with a Bit-O-Honey – Eagle Rare First Impressions Review

Discovering Eagle RareImage of Eagle Rare and pour in Glencairn Glass

When you’re starting to get serious about bourbon, Eagle Rare seems to be one of the first ones that’s recommended. It’s the first suggestion in Reddit’s Bourbon Gift Guide. Jordan at Breaking Bourbon asserts that Eagle Rare “is definitely a bottle I’d recommend any bourbon lover keep in their home bar.” And with a price that’s usually a bit less than $40, there’s not a lot to lose.

Eagle Rare is a Buffalo Trace bottling of their popular low rye mash bill. This is the same liquor that ends up in Buffalo Trace Kentucky Straight Bourbon but aged at least 10 years. It might also be single barrel(ish). Or it might not. We don’t really know anymore.

Eagle Rare went through a somewhat confusing label change around early 2015. They moved the age statement from the front of the bottle to the back. This is definitely still a 10 year bourbon. What is less clear now is whether or not it’s a single barrel. When the distillery changed from hand bottling to an automated bottling line, they dropped the single barrel nomenclature because it was possible a bottle could get spirits from 2 barrels when the line switched over. However, there’s no verbiage on Buffalo Trace’s site about this. It really doesn’t matter to me. But purists may have a preference.

Buffalo Trace has been awfully hard to find in Chattanooga lately –much less one of their smaller-volume bottlings, a good friend found this one for me and picked it up. There are a few things to learn from this: A good friend encourages your best habits. A friend with whiskey is a good friend. Always tell your friends which whiskeys you’re looking for. Thanks, Luke!

Review

Appearance

Image of Eagle Rare pour in Glencairn GlassBurnished gold/bronze color with brilliant clarity and bright gold highlights. Turning the whiskey leaves a glass-coating syrupy texture with ropy legs.

There’s no other word for it –this bourbon is pretty. Damn pretty. I could just sit and look at it. This makes me question why they chose the black sticker label for the back of the bottle. The rest of the bottle is painted with sharp branding that screams premium booze. But the solid black label on the back really hides the beautiful appearance. To some, it might seem inconsequential. But we drink with our eyes first. Changing to an all-painted bottle seems like an obvious upgrade.

Nose

I get an immediate impression of kettle corn at The Chattanooga Market. You can smell it from blocks away and the aroma permeates the entire pavilion. It’s appetizing and distinct. A restrained vinous winey impression drifts in and quickly transitions to orange peel. Lots of caramelized sugar and hints of cinnamon continue. As the dram opens up, I get another heavy dose of nostalgia: Bit-O-Honey candy… my childhood favorite.

Flavor

There’s a lot more orange in the front of the taste than what appears in the nose. The corn comes through nicely right after. Then comes charred wood, though not distinctly oak. Caramel and toffee feature in the finish. Follow-up sips reveal popcorn –even toasted kernels. This bourbon really has kettle corn written all over it. Oak eventually comes through with some restrained black cherry and dark vanilla. There’s a nice sweetness in the middle that dries out quickly after the swallow. This leaves a finish that I find much too short. Sure, it makes you want to take the next sip but it’s an abrupt stop to the enjoyment of the flavor.

Mouthfeel

Pillowy and silky. It floats in the mouth rather than coating it. There’s a nice alcohol tingle but nothing aggressive. Finishes quickly with nothing left on the palate but a slight tingly astringency.

Overall ImpressionImage of Eagle Rare bottle

This is an interesting bourbon as it’s unusual for me to immediately get an impression of a distinct aroma. Kettle corn at the market and Bit-O-Honey make this bourbon smell like home –even if it was distilled and aged four hours away. There’s plenty of complexity in Eagle Rare. The only shortcoming is in the short finish. But overall, this is a new favorite that I can’t recommend enough at the $40 price point.

Score

91/100

Buy Eagle Rare

 

 

Brad Lumley on Email
Brad Lumley
Brad is a BJCP Certified Beer Judge-gone whisk(e)y aficionado. Between drams, he's a husband, father of two, and avid CrossFitter.

COMMENTS

Liliana Roman

Nice bottle looks good.

LeJayJ

I generally stay away from whiskies but I do, more often than not, make an exception for bourbon. For some reason, your basic rye whiskey seems to bring out the worst in me and I simply do not like the taste of scotch unless it is in a Rusty Nail, but bourbon with its suggestion of southern gentility, and a fuller and rounder flavor than rye, allows me to enjoy a high octane alcohol without overdoing it, savoring its full body and sweetness. So when I saw this post for a kettle corn bourbon, I had to read it to find out more about it. Kettle corn brings back fond memories of farmer’s markets back home, especially around Halloween when they would hand out bags of the stuff to trick or treaters. I think that this bourbon would be the ideal finishing touch to a late autumn evening, comfortably tucked close to the fireplace waiting for the winter’s first snow. The price isn’t unreasonable either and with the beautiful bottle, it would make a welcome gift at Thanksgiving or Christmas.

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