Had the chance to taste this very nice bourbon recently, and was impressed enough to hunt down and score my own bottle. I paid $21.00 for my bottle, which is a steal. But on average the bourbon is available for $35 – $38.
It is made by the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Frankfort, KY and is a single barrel bourbon that is still considered a small-batch, although it doesn’t carry any of the info such as barrel number, bottling date, etc. The bottle is tall and elegant and simple, like a very classy woman. Also like a classy woman, she is so much more than she appears.
The color is a beautiful, rich bronzy topaz that is almost reddish. When the cork comes out there is almost a floral fragrance. My first date with Eagle Rare was a rushed shot glass bolted down between courses at work. On this night I pulled down a heavy tumbler and splashed a generous three or four ounces into the glass. The bourbon had very nice legs when swirled, and an initial nose of grain, tobacco, leather, and cardamom. The first taste was almost like a very sophisticated sherry, with additional charcoal, oak, vanilla, pepper, toasted grain, and traces of overripe fruit (flavorful, not spoiled). Swallowing was surprising easy for a 90 proof bourbon. It went down very smoothly and carried warmth vs. stinging heat. The flavors turned dry and spicy, making me think of beef jerky and dried persimmons and very old canvas (I dunno, that’s just what came to mind). After a few seconds there was a follow-up burn, but very gentle, with an oily, honey’ed, roasted almond taste that lingered in a very pleasant way with just a little bit of bitter acidity. So smooth was she I was able to sip the whole 3 or 4 ounces in under 30 minutes watching GOT on HBO.
The following Sunday I knocked out menus, schedules, payroll, grocery orders and prep sheets with a balloon glass of Eagle Rare on the rocks next to me. The cold and the water diffused some of the earthier flavors and maintained the sweet and spicy tastes. Later I paired it with Coke, Ginger Ale, orange juice, and composed into an Old Fashion. All were good, but this is a complex bourbon that really deserves to be enjoyed on its own. Over about two weeks I drained the bottle and even S., who is not a bourbon/whiskey fan at all, thought it was very smooth, flavorful, and lady-like.
I was actually a little jealous of sharing my bourbon with a food recipe, but I did use around 1/4 cup to make a bourbon-butter-cream sauce to go over white pepper seared scallops and red onion linguini pasta. I reduced the bourbon with a mash of roasted shallots and garlic, added some heavy cream and let reduce more, then swirled in some butter and emulsified, then finished with lemon zest and tarragon. I tossed this with the caramelized red onion pasta I made, sprinkled with flakes of shaved Asiago cheese and topped with grilled asparagus and orange juice-marinated sea scallops that had been crusted with white pepper and seared. The flavors were great, but I felt like the sophisticated elements of the bourbon got lost in the competition for flavors. I think this would be a good bourbon to blend with white chocolate and make truffles with, crusted in toasted peanuts.