Thursday, January 26, 2012

Dusty Thursday: Old Crow

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.


Jason Beatty said...

I had a vintage Old Crow from the just last weekend in an unopened chess piece. This whiskey was amazing considering it had a low cost point back then. It is not that whiskey was better but more rather the process of selecting the barrels was different for the average bottles. So, in sense, the whiskey tastes better because the "batch" was better back then. The thing is that the superior barrels from the middle of the warehouse, outer section of riks, in today's whiskey is taken out of the average bottles.

Greg said...

Nice review of the Old Crow. I have a number of bottles from ND including the one Jason referenced from the chess piece; 1969 bottled and 10 years old. Too bad the current version is low shelf swill.

sku said...

I've seen those chess pieces before. Didn't realize they were 10 yo though. Very nice.

Jason Beatty said...

At the same time I had an Eagle Rare 101 from a decanter at Bourbons Bistro that was 50 years old and it was worthy enough to be on your Christmas list.

Anonymous said...

Does anybody know how much is one bottle worth today of this Old Crow Whiskey?

I have bought 5 bottles on garage sale, and I just want to know what the value of one bottle would be?

Mine has 78 on the bottom, does it mean that it is 1978 year? Still with US Internal revenue seal. Looks old and vintage. I tasted one of the bottles and it smells and tastes very good.

Thank you for the help?

sku said...

Martin, 78 does indicate a likely date of 1978. These are nice to drink, but there's not much of a collector's market for them. I would drink and enjoy.