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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

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