Ezra Brooks is a brand that was created in the 1960s as an imitation of Jack Daniel Black Label. It has passed through several hands over the years and is now part of MGP, with their recent purchase of Luxco and their distilleries and brands. This bottle is a single barrel, private selection bottle from Westport Whiskey & Wine. Being a private selection barrel, the flavor will vary from other private selections made by other liquor stores or bars. However, there should be many of the same flavors as those found in this selection, just in different proportions. Your bottle may have more fruit and less spice but still has the fruit and spice found in this selection.
Ezra Brooks Distiller’s Collection
Age: 4 Years Old – Made 6/7/2016
- Mike: Cornbread dough, ripe apple, vanilla, and oak. It improves as the whiskey opens up.
- Matt: Ripe apple, baking spices – nutmeg, oak and leather.
- Mike: Cornbread dough, apples, allspice, vanilla and oak. Tasted with a dried cranberry and there is more baking spice – cinnamon and nutmeg. Tasted with a pecan and there is more apple fruit and the spice becomes a white pepper spice.
- Matt: A hint of apple with nutmeg and ginger. Tasted with a dried cranberry the spices become nutmeg, cinnamon and a little black pepper. Tasted with a pecan a ripe red delicious apple flavor comes out with some pepper, ginger and nutmeg.
- Mike: Long with oak and spice. The dried cranberry makes the finish spicier with lots of black pepper and oak. The pecan brings some lingering apple sweetness with white pepper and oak.
- Matt: Long and dry with buttery oak and spice. The dried cranberry gave the finish a black pepper and oak finish. The pecan gave the finish notes of ginger and oak.
I would pair this Bourbon with a cigar that has a lot of baking spice notes in the smoke like a Rocky Patel “Winter” cigar. The spice in the smoke should complement the spice in the Bourbon without overpowering the other flavors in the whiskey.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller
February 3, 2021 at 3:30 pm
I think I must be missing something. Who are Mike and Matt?
February 3, 2021 at 10:36 pm
Matt is my very talented nephew. We have been tasting together for a few years and have been doing YouTube videos for almost a year now. I decided to add him to the Wednesday tastings.
February 4, 2021 at 4:00 am
Thanks! I don’t check out much online video, so needed a primer.
February 4, 2021 at 6:54 pm
We are making tasting videos for fun since we can’t get out to visit distilleries. I should have my second shot within a couple of weeks, but Matt is way down the list as a 40 year old healthy man, so expect many more videos on YouTube.
February 4, 2021 at 11:20 pm
Good ol’ Ezra Brooks has long been one of those “secret favorites”, like Old Forester and 10-year-old Ancient Ancient Age, enjoyed by those “in the know”. And while the less-informed were content to imagine themselves dropping in on good ol’ Ezra at the little ramshackle Kentucky distillery illustrated on the back label, many of the rest of us were happily (and lengthily) discussing our guesses as to where it really came from. Although a common suggestion has always been Heaven Hill (some less-astute writers seem to attribute ALL sourced bourbon as HH’s) the fact that the brand was originally owned and bottled by Medley in Owensboro hints that it might have been either their own juice or perhaps Glenmore’s (the two distilleries were very closely tied, via distiller Charlie Medley), or maybe a combination, as barrels of bourbon were far more of an exchangeable commodity in those days. Which may be how the Hoffman distillery in Lawrenceburg (KY, not IN) became involved, as bottler, not source. But bottlers are more than just a hired bottling line; that bourbon would have been stored in their warehouses and it’s not impossible to imagine (although he never confirmed this to me) that some of those barrels, not included in the sale of the E.B. brand itself to St. Louis’ David Sherman, remained sitting there when Julian Van Winkle bought the Hoffman distillery and renamed it Commonwealth. Whether any of that found its way into the original Pappy Van Winkle 20 & 23 is highly speculative, but the timing fits. And then there’s Ezra B, the 107-proof 15-year version that was clearly not from the same source as regular Old Ezra. And while David Sherman may have indeed sourced their version of square-bottle EB from Heaven Hill, Ezra B shared its squat-shaped bottle (and possibly its source) with several Willett brands sold mostly in Japan at the time. The Kulsveens were tightly connected with Van Winkle’s Hoffman bottling plant at the time and it’s not hard to imagine that they might have shared some of the same sources. Thus, bourbon labeled “Ezra Brooks” may have actually had different (and perhaps even multiple) sources in those heady days when bourbon was just on the brink of exploding again (and with the Japanese demand for “More Years!” making over-aged barrels that were once liabilities into prime assets).
MGP produces some really fabulous bourbon, and even Heaven Hill is much less “same ol’ same ol'” than it was twenty years ago, but I doubt that this four-year-old version would be useful except as cocktail whiskey. ESPECIALLY as a single barrel. I think the original Ezra Brooks’ strength lie in the fact that it was (probably) a vatting of barrels from different sources, some of them far older than what was listed on the label.