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Tasting McAfee’s Benchmark Old # 8

11 December 2012 1,193 views Written by: Gal Granov

Before we begin let’s get over with the jokes about this being distilled by an Anti-virus software company and all  (quite a few remarks i got online when i posted about trying this one).  this Whiskey is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey (meaning it has more than 50% corn content in it’s mash bill), but is also meant to contain quite a bit of rye too. Aged for 4 years i am told (do not get mixed up by the #8 in its name, it has nothing to do with maturation time) in fresh oak barrels, and is made by Buffalo trace, the award winning and much hyped distillery, that produces some well known whiskies among them the Sazerac 18 and the W.L Weller, and T.H.Handy which won quite a few awards and honorary mentions in some whisky competitions and publication (JM’s whisky bible etc.). This one however this the distillery’s entry level Bourbon and costs as low as $12 ins the US per bottle, a very good benchmarkprice (of course in the UK it will cost you around 17 quid!) Being such a cheap Bourbon I did not have high hopes and was quite sceptical when i got a bottle of this from the Local Israeli importer (kaspi) for review. I wont say i was blown away, but i was surprised. Posting a pic of this on twitter and FB generated a nice conversation with some whisky friends. Billy (@cowfish) mentioned he is using this one as his experimentation bourbon for its low price and relative quality, and Josh Feldman rightly said it was a staple bourbon for him. well, let’s see.

McAfee’s Benchmark Old # 8 , 40% ABV , £17 (~120 NIS in Israel)

Nose: Lots of vanilla, butter, and some acetone (not a bad thing when it comes to bourbons) , the odd tobacco leaf, and a hint of mint, quite spiced and a few maple notes well. given it’s high Rye percentage in the mash bill this is just expected.

Palate:Medium bodied, with a pleasant sweetness/spiciness mix pepper, vanilla, charred oak, fruit, and crème de menthe.

Finish: Bitter sweet,  nutty, and a pinch of black pepper.

All in all a very nice entry level Bourbon, a good mixer i am sure. I have to try it in some classic cocktails and see how it (but i am too lazy).  For $12 its a no brainer, for 17 quid it’s not that cheap, and for 120 Israel NIS it’s plain outrageously prices (120 NIS  = $30!!).

Score: 80/100

Sample provided by Kaspi drink Israel

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  • Joshua Feldman

    Thanks so much for mentioning our conversation in your excellent post. (And very clear tasting notes, btw – I could taste it). To clarify – I haven’t tried Benchmark 8 (i.e. this particular cheap bourbon isn’t a staple of mine). I was making the point that cheap basic bourbon like this is a staple of many American homes. Jim Beam white or black, Evan Williams white or black, Jack … stuff like that (and this) are part of many American lives like toilet paper, eggs, or milk. Just stuff you need in the house to make it a home. It’s not an epicurean experience. It’s for cooking, and mixing. Y’know… bourbon… Cheap straight bourbon is almost always at least good. It’s the best cheap basic liquor on the planet. High end malt whisky may be the cat’s meow – but cheap low end malts can’t touch cheap bourbon – at least at USA prices.

    • http://www.whiskyisrael.co.il Gal(WhiskyIsrael)

      Thanks for clarifying things josh.
      Your Input is valuable as always.