Eagle Rare 10 Year Single Barrel
Eagle Rare 10 Year Single Barrel is produced by the Buffalo Trace Distillery located in Frankfurt, Kentucky. Eagle Rare was introduced to the market in 1975 at 101 proof and was then distilled by Seagrams. The Sazerac Company acquired Eagle Rare from Seagrams in 1989 and moved production over to the George T. Stagg distillery. The 101 proof ER was discontinued in 2005 and was then reintroduced as a 10 year, single barrel bourbon. In 1999 the George T. Stagg distillery was renamed the Buffalo Trace Distillery.
In early 2014 Buffalo Trace quietly removed the "Single Barrel" statement from the label and moved the "Aged 10 Years" statement from the front of the bottle to the back. When questioned about this label change, Mark Brown (CEO) confirmed that BT has no intention of changing the age statement on ER. Then why change the label in the first place? Many believe this is the practice of slowly, and deliberately removing the age statement in such a way to not make the change obvious. We are seeing this same tactic now with Elijah Craig 12 being relabeled as "Elijah Craig Small Batch" and the age statement migrating to the back label.
Now, why remove the "Single Barrel" statement? Mark Brown attributes this to a new bottling line that was installed around the same time in early 2014. Supposedly the pipe that feeds the liquid from the barrel to the bottling line was so long that it was allowing different barrels to intermingle between barrel dumps. So therefore BT could no longer legally label ER as a Single Barrel Bourbon. I would rather BT just come out and say that they are changing the product for consistency, marketing, etc.
***Disclaimer - It is very rare that I encounter an ER10 SB on the shelves anymore. Most shops will only have the ER10 with the new label on the shelves.
Cost: $30 before Tax in South Carolina (750 ml)
Age: 10 Years
Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery, Frankfurt Kentucky
Mashbill: Allegedly BT Mashbill #1. I cannot confirm the Corn/Rye/Barley percentages. However, a lot of folks in the bourbon community believe the Rye percentage to be less than 10%.
Pour: 1.5 oz neat in a Canadian Glencairn
Nose: Starts with Candy corn and Smarties. After getting past the candy there are golden raisins, stone-fruit, honeysuckle and vanilla.
Palate: Creamy, light to medium mouthfeel. Creamed corn, honey crisp apples, asian pears, caramel and a dash of cinnamon.
Finish: Medium fade with a light burn. Muted baking spices, sweet corn and stone fruit.
The bottle that this review was generated from was picked up just over a year ago today (4 days to be precise). The first round of tasting notes were recorded a few weeks after purchase and honestly I just wasn't that blown away. Exactly one year later I recorded a second set of tasting notes (included in this review) and finished the bottle. After comparing the two sets of notes it would seem that nearly 11.5 months apart there are a lot of similarities. The stone fruit, pear, apple, golden raison, and honey notes are all there. Some minor differences in the nose, palate, and finish but nothing major. My ability to describe what was being sensed and pick apart the subtle nuances has definitely improved. So why not just go with the first set of tasting notes for the review? What changed?
In my initial tasting notes I wrote this bourbon off simply b/c the flavor profile was not at the time, what I was looking for or wanting in my glass. I wanted brash, bold, high proof bourbons with loads of caramel, vanilla, and spices. This bourbon has a more delicate and fruity flavor that persists throughout the entire tasting experience. So because this bottle didn't represent my opinion or good bourbon at the time, I relegated it to the back of the cabinet and moved on. Again, what changed?
Sometimes it can be hard to see the forest for the trees. Just because a bourbon doesn't appeal to my exact mood or palate doesn't mean it isn't a good bourbon. It takes time and many, many tastings to see that there are a range of flavors, aromas and profiles that make up the wide spectrum that represents Bourbon.
I can't in good conscience recommend the current version of Eagle Rare as I have not done a side by side comparison between the old single barrel label and current label. If the single barrel were still on the shelves I would say:
"This is a great Bourbon for anyone that might want a break from the current Barrel Proof/Cask Strength craze or even for someone who is just starting out. The reasonable price, wide availability and flavor profile make this a solid mid shelf Bourbon."
In retrospect I wish I had grabbed a few more of the single barrels before BT moved to their "new bottling line" and changed the label. Hindsight is 20/20.
- Mark @ Entry Proof