You're a lucky man. If you find a cache of extra bottles of the 8 year old Old Fitz 1849, and don't mind doing a favor for a fellow SB.com member, please buy as many as you're willing to for me and I'll make sure you're fully compensated.
1, 3, 4, 5, 2. I would insert Ezra Brooks 90 in here somewhere near the top of my list. Can be found almost anywhere, is $15.99/1.75 here in Atlanta, and very tasty.
I, over semester break, tried every one of the bottles I mentioned earlier. I should note that this list derived from my desire to find a cheap house pour, not an excellent pour. Here are my comments, in no particular order:
A.(2). Ancient Age (80 proof)
The only way I can describe this "bourbon" is to recommend that you shake (in a lead shaker): 1 part vodka, 1 park cheap spaghetti from a ultra-discount supermarket, and 1 part nastiness. Let stand at room temp until you remember it. Drink. Mix with something really sugary.
I found almost nothing redeeming about this bourbon. I was disappointed because I'm a big BT fan, and this is the low end of the BT line. I guess I know where all of those extra barrels go now...either to kill mice or make AA.
B.(1). Old Grand-Dad BIB 100 (evaluated at 86)
This bourbon should not have been in consideration, as it usually runs over 15 bucks a fifth. Thus, I will say that the 100 BIB is damn fine whiskey. The 86 is not to be ignored. Last summer, I took a full bottle over to a BBQ at a friend's house to make whiskey sours. Last week, said friend brought the remaining 1/30th of a bottle back to my house. I tried a neat pour. Good, spicy, yet still needing something to help it out. If you know a Beam White drinker, buy them a bottle of OGD86.
C.(5). Rebel Yell
From the SNL sketch, "Who's More Grizzled?," the winner recieves "some salted meats and a bottle of Rebel Yell." Huh. I never got this. It seems like the grizzled old men would be candidates for Fighting Cock, not RY. RY is a decent wheater. Cheaper than MM but no as good as Weller Reserve. I have no complaints. This is a decent wheat whiskey at a good price. If you don't want wheat, don't buy it.
D.(3). Evan Williams Black (86 proof, standard bottling)
I have to admit, I really, really like this cheapy. I bought a huge bottle for fifteen bucks. As OscarV writes: it's an underrated whiskey with a great "minty finish." I will always have a bottle of this on hand for any purpose. Once my taste buds are shot from drinking something stronger, EWB fills in nicely to keep me going for the rest of the evening.
E.(4). McAfee's Benchmark. This is the winner of the group for me. I picked up an extra bottle from ACDetroit this weekend. Upon venturing, it is smooth, elegant, and (most importantly) really cheap. I'm sure it could go into a cocktail, but you can also drink it neat. I'm on my third pour tonight. It tastes as if the AA was given the extra time it so desperately needed to age in order to develop all of the way to a young, yet refined, bourbon of character.
Great write-up, Jeremy! And thanks for the suggestion on the Benchmark. I've never had it so I'll give it try.
As for the rest of the list, I love OGD BIB. An inexpensive bourbon I might add is Fighting Cock 103. One of the few examples of a marketing-led product that is actually pretty good.
It should be noted that the AA is 36 months old and that there are quite a few other styles of AA to choose from. On the shelves in other states are 86, 90 and 100 proof (bib) versions that taste a bit better than the 3/80. Give them a shot sometime.
Also, there was a Benchmark product that was aged 8 years as near back as 1999.....keep your eyes peeled.
Finally, all of these brands have gone through label and age changes in the past ten years, so....scan the shelf for oddities and age statements.
1. Ezra Brooks-Better than the newer aged Evan
2. Evan Williams- It really is pretty good
3. Old Charter-8- A super clean bourbon, that goes down nice (finish)
3. Yell- Just don't like the mash bill
4. Grand dad-86--I brought some to the Hog lease. Everyone preferred Dickel and Evan and it was the last bottle to be finished. Tried real hard to like it but the bottle I had was bust.
4. Ancient Age- ugh.. one of the least likeable I have had.