My readers may recall my Pappy post last year, wherein I disclosed I bought a Pappy 15 because I couldn’t get an Eagle Rare 17, which is now 101 proof. Well, this year, Hokus Pokus got one bottle, and yes, I snatched it up. When I emailed my same friend at Buffalo Trace as I did last year about which bottle to pick, he wrote:
“…you might try the Eagle Rare 17YO, it is the most underappreciated of our rare whiskeys but really good, especially since we raised the proof up.”
This whiskey was barreled in 2002, a mere three years after Sazerac acquired the distillery and renamed it Buffalo Trace. Last year, they upped the proof from 90 to 101, and I am really excited to try it versus the 90 proof version.
On the swirl, is a beautiful oily film with decent legs. Color is a dark and rich mahogany amber showing its age. The nose is very grain and barrel forward, followed by allspice and nutmeg. Elegant. On the palate, dark fruit, baking spice, clove, and lovely oak. The higher proof has really reduced the astringency I have tasted in other releases of Eagle Rare 17. The mouthfeel is tongue coating and elegant, and the finish lingers forever.
A truly elegant bourbon whiskey.
And I just had to compare it to the 2013 90 proof version.
It’s definitely the same whiskey, but the finish on it is drier. Very rich on the mouthfeel and has more cinnamon on the finish, but I do believe the higher proof really adds a lot to this whiskey. The 101 proof is also noticeably darker in color, which reflects the flavor.
And yes, I am about to speak bourbon heresy here, if you have to choose between Pappy and Eagle Rare 17 for your home bar, you should seriously consider the Eagle Rare 17. I have a full flight of the Van Winkle bourbons in my bar so this was an easy choice for me. But I did just pour myself a dram of Pappy 23, and the Eagle Rare 17 holds its own in comparison. It’s not quite as oaky and elegant as Pappy 23, but the rye adding cloves and allspice to the flavor profile makes me think 17 years old is the peak age for rye recipe bourbon to be cut to around 100 proof and bottled.
But, at the end of all things, getting to enjoy whiskies like this is one of life’s singular pleasures. May your local give you the opportunity to get one of these bottles at retail. Hype aside, they are all really good.