The first bourbon I reviewed for this blog was Ancient Age by the Buffalo Trace Distillery; and this second review will be of another Buffalo Trace expression in the same price segment. Seeing as I’ve already mentioned some distillery background in the Ancient Age post, I won’t repeat it in this review. So if you’re interested in a bit of history, hop on over to the AA review and I’ll kick back for a few minutes until you’re ready to continue.
All done? Okay, let’s move on then. This expression is probably more popular among regular bourbon drinkers than Ancient Age (though still less popular than the golden calf that is Buffalo Trace) however it is still both cheap and accessible. Much like Jack Daniels, Benchmark is often (perhaps even primarily) drank with a mixer, though it is perfectly drinkable alone. One of the most popular cocktails to use it in is Old Fashioned, which according to Wikipedia may be the oldest cocktail in the world. I’ve had a go at making one myself recently, using a recipe that I found on Dadshouseblog.com:
Drop a sugar cube in an old-fashioned glass (lowball glass)
Add a few dashes of bitter alcohol (like Angustora)
Add a shot of soda water
Muddle the sugar and bitter alcohol together (you can use the backside of a spoon)
Add an ice cube or two
Add 2 shots of bourbon
Garnish with a bit of orange peel, lemon peel, and a maraschino cherry
I initially made it exactly after the recipe and was quite pleased with the result, though I’ve since taken to reducing the amount of bitter alcohol and instead add some finely grated orange and lemon zest, probably about ½ – 1 teaspoon of each, which I’ve found gives it a nicer, more natural, flavor. I’ve also tried using 1½ teaspoons of Demerara sugar instead of the sugar cube, which the Mrs. preferred.
Neat, I detected hints of caramel, fruit (apple, cherries), cigar, a hint of mint and a faint whisper of vanilla. The palate presents a medium body with a touch of leather, tobacco and dried fruit. For the purpose of this review I also decided to re-test Ancient Age in order to determine which is better value (seeing as they are virtually the same price), and must say that I do prefer Benchmark, and would in fact recommend purchasing one – if not for its qualities when had neat, then for how well it goes in an old fashioned.
Eye: A medium amber.
Nose: Caramel, apple, cherries, cigar, mint and a faint whisper of vanilla.
Palate: Medium body, touch of leather, tobacco and dried fruit.
Want to buy this whiskey? Available in: UK & World (click)