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Stogie Spirits: Eagle Rare Single Barrel Bourbon

3 Feb 2010

Since I wrote about it last March, Buffalo Trace has become my go-to sipping bourbon. It is complex, affordable, approachable, and downright delicious with notes of vanilla and honey. Highly recommended.

Eagle Rare Single Barrel BourbonSo, on my most recent trip to the liquor store, I decided to try my luck with another product of the Buffalo Trace distillery, which is located on the banks of the Kentucky River near Frankfort. My choices included Blanton’s, W.L. Weller, Old Charter, and Van Winkle—a lineup that has helped Buffalo Trace win more international awards since 1990 than any other North American operation, not to mention Whiskey Magazine’s “Distiller of the Year” award in 2005 and 2007.

Remembering some word-of-mouth praise, I decided on a bottle of Eagle Rare Single Barrel and purchased it for just under $25. This brand was introduced in 1975 as a 101-proof bourbon in the Seagram family of liquors. Then, in 1989, it was sold and moved to Buffalo Trace where the multi-barrel, more potent original recipe was re-blended in 2005.

Today, Eagle Rare is offered in two varieties: a 17-year-old “Antique Collection” that sells for upwards of $70 per bottle, and a standard 10-year-old. Both, according to the back of the bottle, honor a creature that symbolizes the “freedom, spirit, and independence of the individual.”

Sampling the 10 year variety, I find a golden bourbon that smells of sweet oak and leather as it is poured from its slender bottle. The aroma is soft yet bright with background notes of melon and banana. But first impressions can be misleading.

The taste, as you might have guessed, is decidedly more powerful than expected with a well-rounded profile of sweet corn, charred steak, and raisin. Oily then blazing, the finish of toast and nuts drags for what seems like days. Bourbon enthusiasts who can embrace black pepper flavors will be captivated while others may be scared off after the first sip.

While many will no doubt disagree, I happen to think Eagle Rare is a bit too powerful to sip on its own. Paired with a full-bodied cigar, however, it suits nicely. Good complements include the Illusione 2, PG Soirée Connoisseur, Patel Bros. Toro, and the Nestor Miranda Oscuro Ruky. Proceed with caution.

Patrick A

photo credit: Stogie Guys

15 Responses to “Stogie Spirits: Eagle Rare Single Barrel Bourbon”

  1. Regis Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 5:18 am #

    Great review.

  2. John Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 5:38 am #

    Eagle Rare is my favorite Bourbon. 🙂

  3. CWS Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 9:10 am #

    Eagle Rare is more important than water in my house. Can be easily sipped alone or with a little water. Perfect for cold winter nights.
    Got my father hooked on it as well. I swear it cured my cold too…

  4. kbomb Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 9:26 am #

    That’s a lot of ice in the cup in the photo. For me a bourbon on the rocks is 2, 3 or max 4 ice cubed.

  5. Brandon Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 9:49 am #

    There is nothing like the Van Winkle line. From the 10-12 year to the 15-23 "Pappy" Van Winkle – they cannot be beat!

  6. cj Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 10:02 am #

    I get the flavor I need from 1 cube only….and neat is still preferred. I love Blanton's, gonna try this one for sure!

  7. Patrick A Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 10:44 am #

    I’ve always liked my ice with bourbon, and this spicy libation merits a few extra cubes to even out its edges.

  8. furious Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 10:59 am #

    Yeah, I tend to agree with the others with regard to ice; less is definitely better for fine bourbon. My favorite is no longer made but I enjoy Four Roses Single Barrel on a regular basis.

  9. dmjones Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 11:34 am #

    I've never tried this one with any quantity of ice, but being as I have half a bottle sitting around doing nothing at the moment, I just might. Normally I prefer just about any fine spirit (bourbon, Scotch, rum) neat with just a couple drops of water.

  10. Patrick A Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 12:38 pm #

    Didn't mean to sound cranky. I'm not frustrated by the suggestion, and I realize I may be in the minority in that I often sip bourbon or rum with ice cubes instead of neat. I see them as a complement.

    But I understand your point. No, I'm not a fan of steak sauce. For me, though, I've found I enjoy most liquors with rocks because I appreciate the cooler temperature of the liquid and the modest addition of water as the cubes melt.

    I do make exceptions for exquisite bourbons or rums. But Eagle Rare doesn't fall into that category, in my opinion.

  11. Anthony Ferreira Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 5:32 pm #

    Top shelf choice! You guys are really rattling some cages this week. Patrick A., you seemed a little cranky with,Kbombs’, suggestion. Here’s another you won’t like. Why ruin a great libation by dilution? Would you smother a perfectly grilled steak with steak sauce? Do you grab the salt-n-pepper before tasting the entree? I prefer bourbon and whiskey neat with a ice water back. The ice water stimulates and opens the palate for a variety of taste sensations. Or, just slam one and chase it with a brewkah. Either way, enjoy!

  12. Dave Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 7:19 pm #

    I’m pretty sure the Scotch often add a bit of water to their whiskey. The idea is that you can better appreciate the complexity of the drink with less alcoholic heat. Admittedly, ice is different because it affects the liquid’s temperature, but adding water is not necessarily “ruining a great libation by dilution”–it can actually enhance the great libation.

  13. Anthony Ferreira Wednesday, February 3, 2010 at 10:40 pm #

    There was no intent ,on my part, to turn your forum into a pissing contest. We’ll just agree to disagree. Last time I checked Tennesseans make pretty good whiskey, and some drink there’s with Coca Cola. I like Coca Cola, but not with Old No. 7. What difference does it make? Voodoo like you do so well. Cheers!

  14. Derek Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 3:39 pm #

    I absolutely love Eagle Rare…glad you tried it!

  15. Dana Saturday, September 25, 2010 at 2:06 pm #

    I just found a bottle of Eagle Rare 101 proof, which has been in the back of a closet since I think the 70's. It's still in the wooden box and sealed with a price on top of $8.99.

    Any idea if this has any value now?