“Whiskey Credit Score.” It’s a concept a buddy and I came up with to describe what you’d be willing to drop on a new bottle you knew nothing about, purely based on the distillery. For example, for me Rare Perfection has a very low WCS. I don’t care if you claim to have sourced your juice from Willett. Don’t believe you. Don’t care. On the other hand, Bardstown has a very high Whiskey Credit Score with me. They could finish their magic juice in horse dung barrels, and I’d still probably buy one to crack and one more to save for later. Similarly, Buffalo Trace has a horse-dung- tolerant WCS. So there’s the scene. Enter Benchmark, stage bottom shelf. Out of thin air, one day my local liquor store had 5 new Buffalo Trace products on display that I had never seen. Thankfully, they were all under $20, because I just sold my last barrel of horse-dung to Bardstown for $100, and I had not a penny more. The question was not “which one will I choose,” but “how do you describe the choice using python?” def choice(benchmarks, my_shelf, wallet): —for bottle in benchmarks: ——my_shelf.append(bottle) ——wallet = wallet - 20 —return home_a_happy_man So here’s the Benchmarks: Benchmark 8 (80 proof) Benchmark Top Floor (86 proof) Benchmark Small Batch (90 proof) Benchmark Single Barrel (95 proof) Benchmark Bonded (100 proof) Benchmark Full Proof (125 proof) These are all made using Buffalo Trace mashbill #1, which is BT’s low-rye mashbill. People that are smarter than me think it’s about 10% rye, 5% malted barley, and 85% corn. They think this, but I don’t think anyone outside of BT actually knows. I wanted to do a true mashbill #1 round robin, so I threw in: Buffalo Trace (90 proof) EH Taylor Small Batch (100 proof) Eagle Rare (90 proof) Stagg Jr. Batch 13 (132.3 proof) 10 mashbill #1 bourbons. 45 blind taste tests in glencairns. Only one can be the best. 10th place: Benchmark Small Batch 9th place: Benchmark 8 8th place: Benchmark Top Floor 7th place: Benchmark Bonded ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 6th out of 10: Benchmark Full Proof. This is the one that turned me on to the Benchmark line. If you’ve ever heard the phrase “poor man’s Stagg Jr.,” this is the guy they were talking about. And without even taking a taste, it’s worth praising the existence of a 125 proof bourbon for $17.59. Nose is sweet, sugary, desert-themed. There’s powdered sugar, honeysuckle, lemon zest, oatmeal, tart cherry, walnut. Really pleasant nose. Body hits hot, but not as hot as other drinks at this proof point, like high-proof Knob Creek, Bookers, or even Stagg Jr. It’s that sweetness that tones the heat down. There’s oatmeal, cinnamon, sugar, lemon, leather, praline, salt. I can get strawberry. The desert theme carries through here. The main takeaway for me is cinnamon oatmeal. The finish is lingering cinnamon, with hints of the sugar. This drink transitions pretty evenly from sweet to salty, and by the end it’s mostly spices and salt. I’m not a huge Stagg Jr. fan, but for those that are, this bottle could justify a road trip to my local liquor store, where it still sits for under $20. I don’t care where you live. At the price Stagg Jr. moves for these days, you could get a case of this and have a fill-in until the supply/demand curve with BT juice flips. Gas is cheap compared to Stagg Jr. I popped this guy into an old fashioned just now, and if you fit into that mid-section of the Venn Diagram for “folk who like high proof bourbon in old fashioneds” and “folk who like sweeter/juicier old fashioneds,” this is a no brainer for you. It’s delicious. The sweet notes interact with your sugars and cherries, and the salt/cinnamon notes interact with your bitters. It hits that sweet spot of quality/cost that makes it near-perfect as a mixer. 6th place is misleading. It lost only to the non-Benchmarks and Single Barrel, which I recognize was less about quality and more about proof for me. If you like high-proof bourbons, this is the Benchmark for you. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ I have 1 more Benchmark, so if you want to play along next time, feel free to skip the intro. However, I did just acquire a fresh barrel of horse-dung to peddle, so I may be able to afford some fresh material next time. ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Fun new discovery about mashbill #1: If this is “poor man’s Stagg Jr.” and Stagg Jr. is “poor man’s Stagg,” then by the transitive property this is “broke-as-hell man’s Stagg,” and I’m going to encourage us all to start referring to it that way.
17.59 USD per Bottle