Benchmark Full Proof Bourbon (125 Proof)
Bourbon — Kentucky, USA
Tasted August 23, 2021
Whiffs of corn, vanilla, cinnamon, honey and possibly sweet, brown tobacco come out of the glass. It’s a nice golden orange color. And while none of that sounds crazy or unusual, get this - a Buffalo Trace product at 124 proof for <$20. This is an anomaly. It honestly lacks about as much VFM as possible into grams of ethyl alcohol, and actual flavor, for anything short of everclear. That alone is an accomplishment. But is it any good? That is sadly not the question people will ask because as @Milliardo pointed out this is some cousin, twice removed from George T Stagg. Never mind that this likely 4 years old instead of 17. It does however have some of the “Mexican fried ice cream” notes that I attribute to the elusive Stagg Jr though. Hot and thin but tasty. The oak is young and splintery hot aside the proof. There is plenty of vanilla, cherry, red hot candies, bit of honey, nuts and again a faint sweet tobacco note to go around. The finish is instant fire in the throat and chest with muted vanilla, cinnamon, cayenne and oak in that order and does lay several minutes. This is not GTS, Jr, Bookers, ECBP or JDBP but it is pretty attractive for proof hounds. I can’t think of a single thing this flavor packed at this price point that will so instantly destroy your GI tract. Well done Benchmark, we’ll done. Instant re-buy? Possibly. For the proof and age it honestly is on par with say a Hubers Starlight 4 grain - but that runs around $40-50. Ok, at $20 I’m absolutely sold. Eat tour heart out WT 101. Except that I can have you any time, anywhere and this is still a bit elusive. This could be less brash, more balanced, more interesting but hell - it’s probably worth at least $24.99 on the secondary.