View Full Version : Benchmark ?Premium Bourbon?

08-02-2004, 11:37
I recently picked up two unopened bottles of "Benchmark" with a (Bureau of Distilled Spitits) Bottle Stamp
over the top. They are 86 proof
and do have a barcode at on the plain black and gold neck label but do NOT have the
Surgeon General's warning label. They are labeled
" Benchmark Premium Bourbon" and state being "Distilled by the Old Benchmark Distilling
Co., Louisville,Ky." They also have a little oval
label with a crest that states Integrity-Tradition-Craftsmanship. The back of the bottles are
embossed in the glass with the same crest over

Any Idea when these bottles date from?


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08-02-2004, 13:16
Buffalo Trace owns the label. There was a Single Barrel Benchmark but it was discontinued and replaced by Eagle Rare Single Barrel. Benchmark lives on as " McAfees Benchmark". Benchmark is a relative late comer to the game, Cowdery has posted the date and story elsewhere on SB.com. I believe it was a late 60s early 70s introduction.

08-02-2004, 14:21
The Louisville location is the puzzler. Benchmark and Eagle Rare were among the first bourbon brands Sazerac acquired from Seagrams. I can't imagine when they would have been produced in Louisville.

08-03-2004, 06:56
Are these bottles 750's or 4/5 quart? They could be bottles from the late 60's when Seagram's first released Benchmark and the bourbon was made at the 7th Street Road, Calvert distillery.
Mike Veach

08-03-2004, 10:21
Are these bottles 750's or 4/5 quart? They could be bottles from the late 60's when Seagram's first released Benchmark and the bourbon was made at the 7th Street Road, Calvert distillery.

I thought that as well, but Cecil/Coyte says that plant never made bourbon, just GNS and high proof blending whiskey.

08-03-2004, 12:06
This might be one of the cases where Coyte was wrong. I am pretty sure Ed Foote told me they made bourbon there because I remember him telling me it was not as good a product as the old Four Roses distillery on Dixie Highway, but Four Roses got shut down anyway for political reasons in the company. The 7th Street distillery was a better showcase for the company. Ed worked for both distilleries at one time or the other during his career at Seagram. He retired from Seagram before going to Old Fitzgerald in 1984.
Mike Veach

08-03-2004, 12:11
I used to buy Benchmark in the 1970's and it was a rich drink with a smooth, full caramel taste.

By the way, the expression "fifth" in my opinion derives from a former practice of selling whiskey as a fifth of a gallon. One fifth of a gallon (U.S. gallon) is 25.6 ounces. So is 4/5ths of a quart, but the expression 4/5ths could not have been corrupted to a fifth over the years (IMO) even though I know many people believe that. Somewhere in Sam Cecil there is reference to the old fifth of a gallon quantity; I'll try to find it.


08-03-2004, 12:29
That makes sense. As I recall, the standard sizes used to be half-pint, pint, fifth, quart (mostly for bar use), and half-gallon. Relative to the gallon, that would be 1/16, 1/8, 1/5, 1/4 and 1/2. I think the airline bottles were 1.5 oz.

08-03-2004, 12:43
A 4/5 quart is 1/5 of a gallon.
Mike Veach

08-03-2004, 13:27
Yes. Speaking for myself, I always thought fifth was a corruption of "4/5ths". Lately though, I feel it is not, but rather is a short form of the term, "1/5th of a gallon". I believe this appears in one of the old ads reproduced at the end of Sam Cecil's book.


08-03-2004, 15:43
That is also my recollection from those days, i.e., that the term referred to a fifth of a gallon.


08-03-2004, 16:00
I'm confident the term is derived from the fact that a fifth is 1/5 of a gallon. That's the only thing a fifth is a fifth of, after all.

The common description of a fifth as 4/5 of a quart probably was adopted and popularized because it was easier for the consumer to visualize how much that was, as in "oh, it's a little bit less than a quart." Since in many cases a quart bottle would be sitting right next to a fifth on the shelf, it made sense to define the relationship that way.

Deciding in what size something will sell best is a very tricky art. When metrics came in, the liquor companies initially offered 250 ml and a 500 ml sizes, which seemed to make sense, but small size consumers didn't like them. The 250 ml didn't seem like enough and the 500 ml seemed like too much. Now they offer a 375 ml and that has been much more popular.

08-03-2004, 18:20
Well my recollection is that it referred to a fifth of a gallon. In fact the Maryland tax stamps stated 1/5 of a gallon(fifth) and 1/4 of a gallon(quart).

08-05-2004, 15:41
Thanks for the replies.

These bottles are 750 ML.

From the discusion I can only asume they are a seagrams product from the early to mid 1980's.

I am astonished that I was able to find these last two still on the shelf after all these years.

They were quite dusty though!

I havent opened one up yet to do an full analisis. I will let you know my thoughts when I do.

Interesting discusion on the fifth.


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10-20-2005, 17:43
This is the only example I've seen that overtly calls out 1/5 gallon. It is on an ebay auction at:

Hermitage on ebay (http://cgi.ebay.com/1914-Old-Hermitage-Sour-Mash-Whisky-Bottle_W0QQitemZ6218557710QQcategoryZ1351QQssPageN ameZWDVWQQrdZ1QQcmdZViewItem)