Ezra Brooks 99
One of the newest members of the Kentucky Bourbon Trail is Lux Row Distillers in Bardstown, Kentucky. We’ve sampled some of their affordable products before, including Rebel, David Nicholson 1843 Reserve, and Ezra Brooks 7-Year Barrel Strength. Ezra Brooks 99, introduced in January 2021, is the latest extension of the brand.
Long a Sourcer, Now a Producer
The Ezra Brooks brand was created by Frank Silverman in 1957 and was bottled at the Hoffman Distilling Company, in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky. As bourbon's darkest days unfolded, Hoffman Distilling shuttered in the 1970s. The Ezra Brooks brand was purchased in 1993 by Luxco out of St. Louis, Missouri.
Luxco traces its beginnings to the late 1950s when Paul Lux and David Sherman began sourcing product and, in turn, bottling and selling the finished product. Today, you can still find them private-labeling many "store brands" of bourbon and whiskey. In 2018, Luxco continued its evolution by opening its own distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. Complete with a 43-foot copper still, operations are capable of producing 3 million gallons of spirits annually.
The bourbons from Lux Row carry two distinct mash bills. Ezra Brooks and David Nicholson Reserve shared a blend of 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley. The wheated mash bill is used in David Nicholson 1843 and Rebel, and is a blend of 68% corn, 20% wheat, and 12% malted barley. Ezra Brooks 99 does not carry an age statement; the finished product is bottled at 99 proof.
Eye: Bright amber
Nose: Honey and orange marmalade. Lighter notes of toffee chews and even a little milk chocolate. Quite delicious.
Palate: Nose may be better than the palate here. Some vanilla and oak followed by spice, followed by some tannin on the back side. The mouthfeel is thin. Overall smooth without the burn I'd expect from a higher proof.
Finish: Medium with oak and spice, with grassy notes on the end.
Overall: I had a little higher expectations from this higher-proof sibling of regular Ezra Brooks. For a higher-proof bourbon, it was smooth and easy drinking. At $25 MSRP, this is a versatile and capable bourbon neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail able to hold its own thanks to the higher proof). That said, it does face serious competition at this price point, including some of my favorites, such as Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond, Wild Turkey 101, and Four Roses Tan Label.