Old Crow is one of the most storied brands of American whiskey. It was allegedly the favorite whiskey of General and President Ulysses Grant. It was eventually acquired by National Distillers which then sold the brand to Beam. At the time Crow had been a competitor to Beam's standard white label bourbon. Beam closed the Old Crow Distillery and then relegated the distinguished brand to the bottom shelf where it remains today.
Today, we will taste a National Distiller era Old Crow. The bottom of the bottle indicates "84" which gives us a 1984 date. It is a 375 ml bottle at 80 proof with no other abv listed. There is no government warning but there is a UPC code.
Old Crow, 80 proof (40% abv), 4 years old.
The nose on this is very nice with with some very light banana, lots of caramel candy and even some white wine notes. The palate has a nice balance of sweet (again caramel, bananas and wine) and some spicier notes that emerge late palate. The finish blends all of this together in a sweet caramel-banana milkshake.
This is a surprisingly nice bourbon. I wasn't expecting that much from an 80 proofer that used to compete with Beam White Label, but it has some great flavor notes and some nice nuance.
One thing I've though about with these dusty tastings is how these dusties measure up to today's whiskeys. We have an amazing wealth of great bourbon today and it seems likely that the specialty bourbon we have available to us today, (the Buffalo Trace Antiques, Van Winkles, Four Roses Single Barrels, etc.), is some of the best bourbon ever, but I wonder if the general quality of bourbon was better twenty or thirty years ago. There may not have been a super-premium category in 1984, but this bourbon knocks the socks off of the bottom shelf 80 proofers of today. Perhaps the price of all of the great bourbon we can drink today is that there are also more people are actually drinking mediocre bourbon. For my part, I'll take an 80 proof old time Old Crow any day.