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  • Writer's pictureJoseph Bourbon

Benchmark Bonded

As I perused one of my favorite stores, I saw this new addition to the Bottled-in-Bond space from Benchmark. I have a special spot in my heart for Bottled-in-Bond bourbons as their higher proof stand up well to a cocktail or ice. Would this be worth a couple dollars more than the bargain-shelf Benchmark or would it miss the mark?

Marking the Spot Benchmark is a bargain brand produced by Sazerac at the Buffalo Trace Distillery. Like many bourbon brands, this one draws on the lore of the legends of the early Kentucky pioneers. In 1773, James, George, and Robert McAfee headed westward to the frontier of, what was then, part of the Commonwealth of Virginia. Traveling along the river highways by canoe, they followed native trails that led them to a great buffalo crossing near what later became Frankfort, Kentucky, and later still, became the OFC Distillery, which later grew to become Buffalo Trace. The surveying marks the McAfee brothers left behind are referred to as benchmarks - hence the brand name. The original Benchmark brand was produced by Seagrams when they owned the Four Roses Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. The Tasting Benchmark Bonded comes in the same square decanter bottle as its younger sibling. As a Bottled-in-Bond product, it

  • Is the product of 1 distillation season, by a single distiller, at a single location

  • Has been aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least 4 years

  • Is bottled at 100 proof

  • Is labeled to identify the distillery where it was distilled (Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, KY DSP-KY-113)

Buffalo Trace shares little about the mash bill, though most feel this is the same low-rye (less than 10%) Mash Bill #1 shared with Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, Old Charter, and E.H. Taylor. Eye: Medium amber with numerous thin legs displayed when swirled in the Glencairn glass. Nose: Brown sugar and caramel apple, along with dried fruit and raisin. This is quite lovely. Palate: True to the nose, with brown sugar and caramel. While uncomplicated, this is sweet and smooth with classic bourbon flavors.

Finish: Medium with pepper spice, char, and vanilla. Overall: I found this at a favorite Kentucky Bluegrass store for around $19. While not its cousin E.H. Taylor, this is an affordable bourbon and is a nice addition to the value Bottled-in-Bond category. I found myself continuing to reach and pour "just a little more" as I continued my sampling, and is a great one to add to your everyday shelf in your collection. The 100-proof and four-year expression will make this a versatile bourbon to have on hand.

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