Bottled-in-Bond whiskey is a growing category. It has regained some of the respect it had in the first half of the twentieth century. The established distilleries are beginning to give their bonded whiskeys more support and in the case of the Benchmark brand, Buffalo Trace Distillery has recently released a bonded version of the brand.
Benchmark is not an extremely old brand. It was created by Seagam in 1968 as they tried to re-enter the American straight whiskey market. They created Eagle Rare 101 to compete with Wild Turkey and Benchmark to compete with Maker’s Mark. Buffalo Trace now owns these trademarks and has had some success with the Benchmark brand as an affordable, easy to find expression of their whiskey. It has been so successful that they have expanded the number of expressions of the brand with several new expressions. Besides the standard expression, they now have a single barrel, a barrel proof, a small batch and bonded expressions. All of the releases are very affordable. They are all in the $20 to $30 range here in Louisville. There is no age statement on the bonded version but it is probably a four year old Bourbon. With sales tax, it cost me $21 and some change. This is well worth every penny. Matt and I tasted this Bourbon and here are our notes.
Age: No Age Statement
- Mike: Vanilla and apricots with some baking spices and oak.
- Matt: Caramel with floral and herbal notes upfront with nutmeg and oak in the background.
- Mike: Vanilla with a little berry fruitiness – raspberry and maybe strawberry, baking spices – cinnamon and nutmeg with some sweet oak wood. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the vanilla and spice are stronger and it brings out a creamy mouth-feel. Tasted with a pecan and the raspberry and oak are enhanced.
- Matt: Caramel and cherries with tobacco and oak. The dried cranberry brought out a note of dark chocolate. The pecan brought out chocolate and ripe apple notes.
- Mike: Medium long with oak and baking spices. The dried cranberry added a lingering note of vanilla to the finish. The pecan added more oak with lingering fruit notes.
- Matt: Medium long finish with oak and tobacco. The dried cranberry added some spice to the finish. The pecan made the finish dry with oak, tobacco and leather.
I would pair this Bourbon with a cigar with lots of vanilla and earthy tobacco notes in the smoke. A Rocky Patel Decades is the cigar that I would reach for with a drink of Benchmark Bottled-in-Bond.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller