When I worked at United Distillers, one of my favorite products in the Glenmore portfolio was the Ezra Brooks 101. Glenmore had acquired the Medley Distillery and the brand just a few years before they were acquired by United Distillers. United Distillers kept the brand only a couple of years before selling it in a large brand sale to Heaven Hill and what is now Luxco. Luxco ended up with the brand and still bottles it today.
Ezra Brooks is a totally fictional person. The brand was created in the 1950s when Bourbon sales were declining but a certain Tennessee whiskey distillery was selling everything it made. The Hoffman Distillery created the name, with a square bottle and a black label that touted that the whiskey was “charcoal filtered”. The fact that the charcoal filtration was a handful of activated charcoal thrown into the bottling tank and agitated and not the sugar maple charcoal filtration before barreling was never mentioned. Of course Hoffman got sued but won their case. The Ezra Brooks brand grew from there. 21 Brands purchased the Hoffman distillery and brand in 1965. The Ezra Brooks brand was sold to Medley Distillery in 1976. Glenmore purchased Medley in 1988 and United Distillers purchased Glenmore in 1991.
Old Ezra 101
Age: 7 years
Nose: Caramel, pears with a little oak and fine leather.
Taste: Caramel. Lots of oak tannins, a hint of fruit and lots of pepper spice. When tasted with a dried cranberry the pear fruit is enhanced and the spices transmute from pepper to sweeter baking spices of cinnamon and ginger. When tasted with a pecan a note of cherries comes forward and the pepper spice becomes more like oak tannins.
Finish: Long, dry and peppery. The cranberry turns the pepper into a dry oak finish while the pecan actually shortens the finish and makes it a little sweeter.
I decided to pair this Bourbon with “The Tabernacle” cigar. I find it has a full bodied smoke with rich tobacco, vanilla and cedar spice. The smoke makes the Bourbon less tannic with cherry fruit and only a pleasant hint of oak. The Bourbon brings out more vanilla and adds a hint of coffee to the smoke. A fine pairing for a summer morning on the porch.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller