Old Ezra 7-Year-Old Barrel Strength
By Eric Schmalz - May 1, 2019
One of the most common requests that I get when standing amidst the ocean of brown liquids at the Ray-borhood is “I’m looking for a good, cask-strength bourbon and I only want to spend around fifty dollars.”
There can be no question, when it comes to spirits, a higher ABV can often mean better, and I am among the growing number that would, if given the opportunity, drink straight out of a barrel, charred oak bits and all just to experience the truest state of a spirit. However, the high-proof spirits circulating in the modern liquor store are either increasing in price, dwindling in quantity, or simply vanishing. Today, we look into a brand that's stepping back into the limelight with a rather impressive barrel-strength offering.
Originally conceived by Frank Silverman & Company in 1957, Ezra Brooks was a whiskey that was set out to copy, almost in its entirety, Jack Daniel's. In an attempt to take advantage of a supply shortage of Jack Daniel's, Silverman sourced bourbon, reportedly from Hoffman Distilling Company, bottled it under the Ezra moniker, and advertised it as an alternative to the ever-popular black label beverage.
It didn't take long before Daniel's stepped in to challenge this imitation. Citing the square bottle, black label, 90 Proof bottling, charcoal mellowing, and being advertised as “sippin’ whiskey” as intentional copying, Daniel's filed against Brooks in 1960 in an attempt to cut it down. Ultimately, however, they lost the case due to Brooks being able to make the claim that they were producing Kentucky Bourbon, which, among other things, was a big enough difference to allow them to co-exist. If you’re a curious type, the full case can be seen here.
The brand has been passed around between many companies since the 60s, ultimately being bought by Lux Row Distillers who, to great success, have brought it back to the public eye. Their most recent release in this line, Old Ezra 7-Year-Old Barrel Strength Bourbon, has been well-received and praised as a solid bourbon for a stunning Suggested Retail of only $40. Personally, I went out and bought a bottle of this immediately after it hit the shelves, and after tasting it I instantly knew that Lux Row had a pearl on their hands. So what exactly can one expect?
Old Ezra 7-Year-Old Barrel Strength (image via Ray's Wine and Spirits)
This bourbon is age stated 7 years, charcoal filtered, and bottled at a Barrel Strength of 117 Proof.
The nose leads with tobacco and oak which is quickly overtaken by a bold sweetness that is vastly brown sugar and butterscotch. There is some fruit component as well but it is very muted by the overtones of brown sugar.
The palate is a big brown sugar bomb riding a wave of oak that moves into candied raisins with the tobacco component lingering in the background. There is also a rich nuttiness akin to pecans throughout.
The finish is medium in length with light chocolate showing through, as well as baking spices, light oak, and hints of mint as well. A lingering warmth held my attention and left a craving for more.
A whiskey that reminds me of warm pecan pie right out of the oven on a cool Fall day, this product delivers in every category. Is it life changing? Not quite. But in a world of mounting costs and scarcity, Lux Row has done the unthinkable and delivered a delicious Barrel Strength bourbon at an affordable price. I fully expect that this will not last at this price point for very long, and I aim to keep a bottle or two of this around for the forseeable future.
Overall: 8/10 Excellent
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