Friday, November 5, 2010

Review: Eagle Rare Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

A relative of mine who lives in Texas once said that for Americans, Thanksgiving is bigger than Christmas.  That's saying a lot!  Families travel long distances to be together to give thanks to God for their many blessings.  The food is traditionally turkey with homemade stuffing, mashed potatoes, cooked carrots, turnip, squash, cranberry sauce and ohh that gravy!  My Mother makes the best gravy!  In Canada, Thanksgiving occurs earlier (2nd Monday in October) than south of the border (4th Thursday of November).  It is an important holiday, but I can't describe it as 'bigger than Christmas' (no disrespect intended to my American readers).

Whiskey Food Pairing - Bourbon & Thanksgiving Dinner
To my mind, bourbon is the ideal type of whiskey to compliment a Thanksgiving dinner.  While I usually enjoy my spirits neat, during this important holiday, I like it with ice or as an integral part of a cocktail.  Bourbon's rye spice, pronounced cinammon toast flavor profile compliments the turkey in cranberry sauce, as well as mashed potatoes covered in gravy made from scratch. 

On such an social occasion, don't drink your bourbon neat.  Focus on your family and the conversation.  The drink is to be a pleasant part of the background.  Bourbon with ice works well in this regard.

Eagle Rare Single Barrel Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
This particular bourbon is aged 10 years which is a great deal of time for type of spirit.  Unlike scotch, bourbon requires less aging to reach its peak flavor profile.  Eagle Rare is produced by the same people who brought you Buffalo Trace.  Accordingly, your expectations are likely to be high.  Your expectations will be rewarded.  The following tasting note is based on a neat serving, but that's only for dessert with pumkin pie.  Not during the meal!  With the meal have it with some ice or in a Stone Fence Cocktail.

Nose (undiluted)
Lightly scented oak and vanilla.

Palate (undiluted)
Fantastically smooth (for a bourbon), yet interesting ride of concentrated sweet rye, vanilla and charred American oak.  Layers of spiced rye delicately unfolds upon the palate. 

Finish (undiluted)
Charred oak, ginger and cleansing, fresh Kentucky spring water.

Nose (with ice)
Mostly mutes all of the aromas deteced when neat.

Palate (with ice)
The trouble with ice is you tend to drink quick because if you take too long the spirit will be diluted too much.  Tasted a minute after the ice has made its presence known, you will enjoy complex oak, layered rye and nutmeg.  Yeah, nutmeg.  Ice just makes it so gentle.  When I first started drinking whisky it was always with ice and then I started drinking it neat and regarded ice as evil.  Now, I am coming full circle and realizing that dogmatic views (ice is always bad) are unhealthy and it's all about enjoyment.  I enjoy Eagle Rare with ice.  Purists will pooh, pooh me, but so what?  A man has to march to the beat of his own drum I say.

Finish (with ice)
Toasted cinammon bread and more RYE!

General Impressions
Eagle Rare Single Barrel Aged 10 yrs is very, very good bourbon.  Some people may consider adding ice to it as sacrilege, but I am not 'some people.'  I am an ordinary guy who likes my bourbon sometimes with ice.  Great bourbon with ice is . . . well . . . great!  I know that is trite, but hey that is how it is and who I am.

Like all bourbons, it is a very powerful spirit in terms of alcohol content and flavor. So, little sips are the rule. Try to sip the equivalent of a 1/4 teaspoon when enjoying it neat.  In a cocktail it will be very flavorful.  The price is more than reasonable for this product.  This is certainly an excellent choice gift for the bourbon fan.  However, if you are planning on presenting it as a gift to someone who does not drink bourbon, I would go with something gentler like Basil Hayden's or Four Roses.  Not a bourbon for beginners.

Eagle Rare has won plenty of awards and while I seriously question the International Wine and Spirits Competition manner of handing out medals, I will admit they hit the nail on the head with respect to this very fine bourbon. 

Try it neat with some pumpkin pie and a swirl of whipped cream.  You'll understand what I mean.


Jason Debly

Painting credit: Jean Leon Gerome Ferris (1863–1930): The First Thanksgiving.  Please note:  This image (or other media file) is in the public domain because its copyright has expired.  This occurs to works of art in the United States, Australia, the European Union and those countries with a copyright term of life of the author plus 70 years.

Copyright © Jason Debly, 2009-2010. All rights reserved.


  1. Jason,

    Nice review! This is one I've had on my list of to-try's...tonight, I will actually be sipping at a different American whiskey, the quite inexpensive Old Overholt Rye whiskey. You enjoy a good Rye?
    -Jonathan "Yochanan" S.

  2. Johnathan, I like rye, but I am not overly knowledgeable. Generally, I prefer Canadian rye whisky as it is very gentle. I can appreciate the greatness of American rye but it is a very strong drink.

    This makes me think . . . I really should post more Canadian whisky reviews.

  3. Jason:

    I, like you, occasionally like to drink my whisky with ice. Occasionally I like to add a little slice of lime, and occasionally I like a little ginger ale. I even occasionally like my whisky with a splash of cola (especially my bourbon). I guess I am what you would call an occasional whisky drinker.

    But what I always do is enjoy my whisky to its fullest. Hopefully we will find an occasion to share a glass one day, on ice or not each as we see fit.


  4. Hi! Chip. Yes, we should share a glass sometime. I'll buy!

    Readers, Chip has a website, The Rum Howler, that has with every spirits review a cocktail recipe. Cocktails are worth exploring, and so, explore his site sometime (

    Chip, if you ever make it out to Atlantic Canada, I'll cover the tab!

  5. I enjoy the rye-heavy bourbons, mainly as cocktail mixing whiskey--so Bulleit and Buffalo Trace get a lot of mileage here--but I haven't had a chance to try the Eagle Rare. I'll look forward to picking up a bottle when it's time to restock the shelf. Thanks for the writeup.

  6. Doug, I really like your site, a site devoted to cocktails. I will add a link at the bottom of this page.

    Readers, Doug has great recipes that are worth checking out on his site: