Welcome to another installment of Whiskey You Can Drink, wherein I drink whiskey and tell you about it. Today we take another trip to the bottom shelf, and run headlong into a bottle of Benchmark, which is something of a little brother to Buffalo Trace, and tips the scales at 80 proof. I paid TWELVE DOLLARS for this bottle at regular price, which is why you can drink it.
Benchmark’s mash bill is a bit of a mystery. It is thought to have less than 10% rye, which is plausible since it has very little heat or spice. But it costs TWELVE FUCKING DOLLARS, so what do you expect? Its big brothers, Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare, particularly the latter, are becoming increasingly hard to find thanks to a bourbon resurgence of sorts. If you can find a bottle of Eagle Rare for less than $40, send it to me.
What’s it smell like? On the nose, I get……………………..
“Lemmy, it’s a fucking TWELVE DOLLAR bottle of bourbon for fuck’s sake, quit with the bullshit.”
Ahem. Right. I detect exactly two dark cherries. With some cinnamon of course, because it’s bourbon (Did I mention that it’s a TWELVE DOLLAR bourbon?). Underlying that is a distinct scent of cookie dough ice cream. If that sounds oddly specific, I’m puzzled by it too, because it’s a TWELVE………………….well, you get the picture. Anyhow……………….
What’s it taste like? Remember that bubblegum that came in a pack of baseball cards? Chew one of those up, then do a shot of bourbon. You didn’t really just do that, did you? Gross. Because that shit hasn’t been in a pack of baseball cards for like 40 years. There is also a good deal of cinnamon, maybe some anise. A bit of bell pepper of whatever color, and probably some vanilla if you’re looking for it. Power of suggestion and all. The tastes and smells are all more subdued than those of Buffalo Trace.
Let’s compare this head-to-head with my favorite bottom shelf bourbon, Evan Williams. Well, first it would’ve helped if I hadn’t poured the Evan Williams into a dusty glass. I’ll be right back.
Okay, let’s do this. No, wait. Still there. So apparently the EW tastes a little dustier than the Benchmark. However, it’s also warmer, and the Benchmark seems thinner, probably owing to the EW being 86 proof.
Should you buy it? The Benchmark, I mean. You’re already buying the Evan Williams (you’re welcome). Don’t let me tell you what to do with your money, but this is a perfectly serviceable bourbon for TWELVE FUCKING DOLLARS. Mix it with something and save the good stuff for another night, or switch over to this after you’re too buzzed to care whether your bourbon smells like Petite Malaysian Blood Oranges and muddled saffron (I have no idea if those are things, but you get the point).
Will I buy it again? Depends. If I walk into a store looking for a bottom shelf bourbon and they don’t have Evan Williams, then sure.