Time for a look into something quite affordable – Old Charter 8 year old bourbon. My buddy Scott wants to see reviews of less expensive bourbon, or “bottom shelf bourbon” as he put it. I guess he’s hoping I’ll rate these much lower than the expensive stuff. Here’s the thing – being on the bottom shelf doesn’t automatically make it a bad bourbon. I have a saying: ” There’s no such thing as bad bourbon.” There’s okay bourbon, and there’s bourbon that’ll knock your socks off. I’m excluding blended whiskies – I’m specifically talking about straight bourbon whiskey. This leads me to Old Charter 8 year old. I’ve seen it on the bottom shelf most places I go, but I don’t think it belongs there.
Old Charter is put out by Buffalo Trace. It uses the distillery’s Mashbill #1, the same one used for George Stagg, Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace bourbons. This one is 8 years old and 80 proof. There used to be older variations of Old Charter, but now we’re down to this 8 year old. Buffalo Trace also puts out a 101 proof. Getting your hands on a bottle that says “Aged 8 Years” maybe be a little hard – the company has removed the age statement from the label and that version is hitting shelves. I’m not sure if they taste the same or not. I’ve only tasted the 8 year old version.
I get some light caramel and oak, and a little bit of alcohol fumes. There’s an overall lightness in the aroma. Taste-wise, it’s pretty smooth and has a nice medium body at 80 proof. There’s the standard bourbon caramel sweetness and very light oak. Even a little depth with some butterscotch flavor, but nothing like its flavorful older brother Eagle Rare. The finish is light and bittersweet.
Thus far, this is a really nice “smooth” sipping whiskey… definitely better than Gentleman Jack. I find it pretty palatable. Great for sipping neat or an ice cube. I wouldn’t add water to it. Personally I wouldn’t mix it in a cocktail either. I prefer a little bit more “bite” in my cocktails, and I don’t think Old Charter can offer that. I picked up a bottle of this for about $17.