Thursday, February 23, 2012

Dusty Thursday: Eagle Rare 101

Today for Dusty Thursday I get to sample one of the whiskeys that was on my holiday wish list. Thanks to the generous reader who helped me out.

According to Chuck Cowdery, the Eagle Rare 101 brand was established in 1975 to compete with Wild Turkey 101 in the bird-themed bourbon category. It was a Seagram's brand, distilled at the Old Prentice Distillery in Lawrenceburg, Kentucky (now Four Roses). In 1989, Buffalo Trace purchased the brand and began making it at their Frankfort distillery. It was discontinued in 2005 in favor of the current Eagle Rare offerings: a 10 year old single barrel and a 17 year old for the Antique Collection, though both come in at lower proofs than the 101. The bottle I'm sampling today is from the Buffalo Trace era of Eagle Rare 101 which we know from the Frankfort address on the label.


Eagle Rare 101, (Buffalo Trace) 10 years old, 50.5% abv

The nose is full of butterscotch with a bit of maple syrup. On the palate the first taste is sweet with some very sophisticated Cognac-like notes, then spice box and some nice brine. The finish is full of spice, almost hoppy at times reminding me a little of Charbay's hopped whiskey.

This is really an amazingly flavor-packed, complex bourbon. I like the current Eagle Rare, but this version is just above and beyond it in terms of complexity. Next time you see a Buffalo Trace rep at a whiskey show, give them a good talking to for discontinuing this fine bourbon.

10 comments:

Jason Beatty said...

I have not tried this era (hint, hint). I have tried two different early 80s Old Prentice pours and they were WAY more complex.

Jason Beatty said...

This early 80s pour was better than a newly opened Old Crow 10 Year pour from the chess piece, and also the 16 Year A. H. Hirsch I had at Bourbons Bistro last month. Tip your bartender and ask him to pull something from the basement!

David D said...

I hope people appreciate your blog. I learned a few things here today! Now, on to read tasting notes and fall asleep

Jean said...

Hi Sku last fall I was in one of my favorite shops & the owner showed me a bottle of 101. He was obviously trying to get me to drop an offer. However, he had so many other great bourbons I didn't go for it nor did I want to pay an arm & a leg. I'm sure there are more where that came from when I find a few spare Franklins. It wasn't here in LA, or CA, though. Thanks for your generosity, Jean

Pat in OKC said...

About 6 weeks ago, I received an unopened bottle of ER101 from an employee at my company. She said her parents bought it at least 18 years ago, but never had the urge to try it. Bottled by Old Prentice. I estimate was distilled in 1983 or 1984. She gave it to me gratis, as she heard I was a whiskey fan. I am already a fan of ER10, so this will be fun; have not yet opened it.

Jason Beatty said...

Jean: find me some, PLEASE! I'm getting bored and need something to mix up the rotation.

Anonymous said...

Sku, would a 5.5% ABV boost of the current ER range's bottling strength elevate ER10/ER17 to a level of complexity similar to ER101? Or might there have been other factors previously (ER101), such as grain/malt, source of grain/malt, mashbill, distillation, entry proof, barrel/char type, warehouse, etc.?

Jason Beatty said...

The warehouses for Old Apprentice days, multi-story, and in a relative different climate area than the ones at Buffalo Trace. Keep in mind that the barrels at Buffalo Trace are currently aging through the winter because of the climate control they have. There could be all sorts of other factors that I doubt SKU would know.

Greg said...

Another great dusty example. I currently have a bottle that was distilled '72 and bottled '82. Probably one of the best ER101 expressions I've had. Too bad BT dropped the 101 expression.

sku said...

Anon, as Jason notes, there are many factors which could have accounted for the difference. There isn't that much public information about the old Eagle Rare 101, either the Old Prentice of BT versions. I don't even know if they were the same mashbill as the current version, and the yeast almost certainly changed in the transition from Old Prentice to BT.

Still, elevating abv, in my estimation, almost always a positive thing. Rarely have I tasted a whisky and said to myself, I wish they had bottled this at a lower proof.