Nose: I got initial hints of tea, mint and menthol. A second whiff brought out even more tea (that is a first for me….I don’t ever remember smelling tea before). The third whiff was a toned down medicinal smell. [NOTE: I did not let this glass breathe as long as I normally do. I also cannot discount the possibility that my nose and palate are “off” today after yesterday’s ailment.] Palate: The initial impression on this is a mellowness that is on the sweet side. It is pretty mild and the sweetness is subtle. Both the mid-palate and finish are on the short side. This is one of those bourbons that falls squarely into the “easy drinker” category, but as is often the case, there is nothing that makes any particular outstanding impression. There is no heat or burn, but there is an slight aftertaste that is a little on the rough side. It is peppery and you do get some hints of the mint from the nose. Comments: I should have done a side-by-side comparison between this and Buffalo Trace, because I often recommend this to people who like Buffalo Trace but can’t find it. It isn’t because it necessarily tastes the same, but because Benchmark is made by Buffalo Trace, and it is the cheaper step-sister. I like it when I’m in the mood for something that will not in any way tax my palate. It is simple and cheap and good to have around for that reason. That said, you will never mistake this for one of your favorites. This is a good sit-around-the-campfire-with-the-guys bourbon for when volume (or cost considerations) deter you from having something more expensive. My bottle is a 175l and I think I paid something in the low $20’s for it. I like it for what it is, but I’m not sure I’m back on my game to give it a proper review today. Perhaps I will put it on the list for a revisit if/when the pickins get slim. The mash bill on this is reportedly BT’s mash bill #1, which is a low rye mash bill that is also used in Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace. It is 80 proof.
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