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Review: Ancient Ancient Age 10 Year Bourbon

The Ancient Age (AA) brand has been around for more than 60+ years. Today Buffalo Trace distillery distills, ages, and bottles AA in a couple of different bourbon offerings. The standard entry Ancient Age is around 3 years old, the Ancient Age 10 Star is a 6 year old, and their oldest is the 10 year old Ancient Ancient Age (AAA). The subject of this review is the later.

First off this is distilled from the Buffalo Trace’s Mash Bill #2, which is a higher rye version of the standard entry #1 Mash Bill, used to make the flagship bourbon, Eagle Rare, George T. Stagg, etc. Mash #2 does share such company as Blanton’s, Rock Hill Farm, Elmer T. Lee, and others. Not bad for a bourbon that costs well under $20.00. The price is right but does it taste “budget”?

Ancient Ancient Age 10 Year Bourbon, 43% abv (86 Proof), $18/bottle

Color: Medium Amber/Copper

Nose: Well ripened peach, caramel apple, and bright orange are backed by gentle baking spices, graham cracker, vanilla, flint, a whisper of fragrant oak and wood perfume. Gorgeous!

Palate: Orchard fruit mingles with caramel, vanilla and toffee only briefly before the spice takes hold (cinnamon and clove, anise, bitter orange rind, and a very healthy punch of rye). For an 86 proof bourbon this is also quite concentrated in flavor with outstanding balance of spice and sweetness.

Finish: Elegant yet definitely in the moderately long category. Toffee, citrus rind bitterness, and lingering (but gentle) rye “bite”.

Overall: To put it succinctly, this is a real “find”. The nose hints at something quite sweet and fruity, but the palate reaffirms the spicier side of the higher rye mash bill. There is little not to love with Ancient Ancient Age 10 Year Bourbon. For under $20 this is a whiskey that stands up well to its higher priced “cousin’s” (mentioned above) without trade off. This one will absolutely be in consideration for my “Value Pick of the Year”. If you can find it – grab it! Quick note – don’t be fooled by the “10 Star” version. This one says “Full Ten (10) Years Old” on the label.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.1 (Superb/Outstanding)

Single Barrel Bourbon Comparison: Blanton’s, Rock Hill Farm, and Kentucky Spirit

Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit Single Barrel Bourbon, 50.5% abv (101 Proof), $45-50
Background: Wild Turkey Kentucky Spirit sits at the top of Wild Turkey Distillery’s (Lawrenceburg, KY) primary line of products. Not including some of their limited releases of course. The Wild Turkey hallmark is a spicy rye character that is quite prevalent (albeit in varying degrees) throughout the range. Jimmy Russell, a bourbon icon, and his son Eddie are the Master Distillers at Wild Turkey.
Color: Deep Amber
Nose: Crushed rock, leather, and dry oak at the front with dried banana, vanilla, herbs, and rye to follow. Maple syrup increasingly more prevalent with air time.
Flavor: This one is almost dry and crisp throughout the sip. It starts spicy with peppery heat and a rye-heavy punch. Hard caramel candy sweetness struggles through just gripping oak takes it to the finish.
Finish: Long and spicy with a bit of corn and toasted, dry oak.
Overall: The nose is fantastic, bringing some aromas that don’t present themselves very often in other bourbons. On the palate it leans heavily towards dry and spicy, so if you are a fan of this type of flavor profile, Kentucky Spirit will please you.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.6 (Very Good/Excellent)
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Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon, 46.5% abv (93 Proof), $45-50
Background: Produced by Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, KY, Blanton’s was the bourbon that started the single barrel craze in the early 1980’s. It’s disputed by some noted historians and industry figures as to whether it was the first Single Barrel, but nobody can dispute that it was the first to really achieve commercial success. Others took note and quickly followed. It’s named after Colonel Albert Bacon Blanton, a former George T. Stagg Distillery (now Buffalo Trace) president. His favorite bourbon came from Warehouse H, which is where Blanton’s barrels are selected today. We owe Elmer T. Lee for getting Blanton’s released. At his urging, the distillery agreed to release this bourbon to the public in 1984. It is made using Buffalo Trace’s mash bill #2.
Color: Medium Amber
Nose: Corn, apples and apricots, cinnamon, rye, and a little caramel sweetness adds weight.
Flavor: Corn, orchard fruits (apples, peaches), bracing rye spice, and the bitterness of charred wood.
Finish: Baking spices, fruit, maple syrup, and barrel yield a moderate length finish.
Overall: Blanton’s is a wonderful expression of a rye recipe bourbon full of grain and barrel aromas and flavors. It is also accessible and relatively easy drinking. My only complaint is Blanton’s flattens a bit on the palate. I would love to see this at barrel proof as Colonel Blanton used to sip it. Buffalo Trace, are you listening?
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.7 (Very Good/Excellent)
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Rock Hill Farm Single Barrel Bourbon, 50% abv (100 Proof), $45-50
Background: Rock Hill Farm is a Single Barrel bourbon made by Buffalo Trace in Frankfort, KY. Like Blanton’s, Rock Hill Farm is made using Buffalo Trace’s mash bill #2.
Color: Deep Golden/Amber
Nose: Corn, honey, apple cider, a sprinkle of rye, mint, and wet oak. What a fantastic nose this is, and with fruit and corn prevailing and enough oak and spice character to keep it lively.
Flavor: Again we have corn right from the fore, loads of honey, rye, peppery bite, burned sugar, maple, and again that apple note.
Finish: Moderate length -fruity with caramel and peppery spice.
Overall: Rock Hill Farm is a tremendous bourbon that really doesn’t get its due. It has depth and layers of flavor that Blanton’s didn’t quite measure up to. More than anything I enjoyed the balance of grain and fruit that shines through.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.0 (Outstanding/Superb)

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon

Elmer T. Lee Single Barrel Bourbon, 45% abv (90 proof), $28-35/bottle

Old familiar as I call it. Elmer T. Lee is quite possibly one of the most comforting Bourbons or Whiskey’s of any kind made today. The first whiff floods the nose with Maple, Caramel, gentle spice, and the wonderful bright notes of citrus and orange peel. The sip echoes the nose beautifully with caramel, maple, honey, vanilla, bitter orange, and light oak. The finish is moderately long with gentle spice coating the tongue. Just a brilliantly crafted bourbon of balance – deep and rich, yet so easily drinkable. A perfect bourbon for the novice and the connoisseur alike. And to think a Bourbon icon like Elmer T. Lee still selects the barrels to this day. Makes it all the more special. Highly recommended. Note: Bottled expressly for Brinkmann’s Wine and Spirits, Franklin, TN.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.2 (Superb/Outstanding)

It’s all about the Bourbon

This site was created with a pretty simple mission in mind: To provide the most relevant, usable content to whiskey consumers of all levels and expertise, share my passion for whiskey, and to be your trusted resource on the American Whiskey Industry.

In addition to whiskey reviews, which i do very frequently, I try to showcase the great people that dedicate their lives to making the finest American Whiskey. It’s a labor of love for the individuals that make a living around whiskey. I’ve heard some folks say, “If you want to make a little money in the whiskey business, first start with a lot of money.” It takes a lot of hard work and craftsmanship also; from farmers cultivating grains, barrel coopers coaxing desired flavors from natural resources like American White Oak, recipe formulation, master distillation, tasting, waiting, and more tasting and waiting. It’s all done in order to produce one of the most affordable luxuries on the planet. I genuinely think about this symphony of people every time I pour a drop in my glass, and I hope to pay homage to them as much as possible.

I must also point out that whiskey is something to be respected, not abused. Please enjoy it responsibly if you are of legal drinking age.

Finally, Websites like this are the most fun when visitors comment and interact with one another. I want to encourage you to comment and share whenever you can. Please don’t hesitate to drop me a line with suggestions or just to touch base. Until then……..

Drink your Bourbon!

Jason Pyle
Sour Mash Manifesto
1738 Liberty Pike
Franklin, TN 37067
eMail: jmpyle1@gmail.com
Phone: 615-406-6026