Welcome to the Straightbourbon.com Forums.
Page 1 of 6 123 ... LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 52
  1. #1

    Seagram's Benchmark

    Over 20 years ago Seagram put out a fine bourbon called "Benchmark". Haven't seen it in about 20 years and I wonder what happened to that label. I see on Buffalo Trace's website that they have a bourbon called "McAfee's Benchmark". I just wonder if it is the same recipe as the bottle is similar.

  2. #2
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    8,982

    Re: Seagram's Benchmark

    Lots of info on this in the SB archives, the old Seagram Benchmark was a fine whiskey and the current Benchmark, made by a different distillery, is really a different kettle of fish (in my opinion).

    Gary

  3. #3
    Disciple
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    1,606

    Re: Seagram's Benchmark

    McCaffys(sp)Benchmark is completely different not only in distillery but in style, as well. The current is a baby of the BT Low Rye Mashbill...the same one that makes OC, BT, ER and Stagg.

    As close as, the late 90's their were a couple of variations on the label...with a single barrel and 8yr/80 showing up ,most often. Now, it is only a 4 yr 80 proof.

    The Seagrams version was near, if not, 6yrs old at most times. Seagrams products had a very unique style to them....if you have ever tasted one...you will know what I mean, immediately. Ultra Smooth and very well balanced.
    ______________________________

    Jeff Mo.

  4. #4
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    8,982

    Re: Seagram's Benchmark

    It is very true that Seagram's products stress balance, roundness, smoothness, its Benchmark bourbon had all that and more (a chocolately/rummy, rich taste, not complex but impactful).

    I find it interesting that Seagram products have always had these qualities because almost always they are consumed with a mix or with water and ice where these qualities kind of disappear. You can tell when tasting, say, Seagram 7 Crown that it was taste panel-approved on the basis of neat sampling or with light dilution and no ice. Why would people give an imprimatur to whisky for its neat qualities that rarely will be consumed that way? Because of tradition. And they will assume perhaps that a round mild beverage will not obtrude in a mixed drink, but that is secondary in my view and in any case not necessarily what would result if a drink was assessed on a mixed basis to begin with - the "rough" character for example of Jim Beam White Label may be an intentional result, one which follows from considering that the whiskey will generally be consumed with cola, the same thing for the regular Jack Daniels.

    Seagram, like Hiram Walker, like the Seagram-influenced Four Roses for its bourbon, worked out its signature palate a long time ago. So long, that at the time most whiskey was drunk neat or perhaps with a little water. There were highballs, yes, but I infer that most whisky was consumed neat and that is why it was assessed on that basis by distillers. And things done in 1890, say, are, even in these large, internationally-owned distilleries done essentially the same way today.

    I've had Crown Royal dating back to the 1940's and it was very similar to today's (better, generally, but similar). Did people drink CR and Coke and CR and ginger ale then? No - or not as much as today - but they still make CR the same way. I am sure VO or whatever the Seagram flagship Canadian whisky was in 1890 was similar to today's.

    I think partly because these distilleries have become commodities in the international market place, they tend to innovate less when it comes to product. That remains unchanging even as the places change hands from time to time. Or putting it a different way, the senior managers focus on growing and running the business and leave distilling matters to the chemists and others who have applied for generations the same technics of making Canadian whisky. Of course, process changes of various kinds occur over time, but in the Canadian whisky world the more things change, the more they stay the same in terms of palate, IMO.

    When I tasted that Seagram 7 Crown the other day it had an old-fashioned taste to me, of cereals and old roses (a rye-like trait) and a caramel/maderized hint. It may not be exactly what was made in 1980 or 1939 but it will be very close. It may (for all I know) be mixed by some today with lychee juice or baconized soda or lord knows what, but it is still the same fine whiskey it always was.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 09-03-2008 at 11:09.

  5. #5
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    8,982

    Re: Seagram's Benchmark

    I have not forgotten that the Benchmark bourbon brand was devised by Seagram in the 1960's. But I believe Seagram blending expertise was applied to fashion its palate so that while it was of course a straight whiskey it reflected qualities seen then and now in Seagram's Canadian whisky products, i.e., a round, smooth palate ideally suited to neat sampling.

    Gary

  6. #6

    Re: Seagram's Benchmark

    I appreciate the information and discussion. Is it fair to say that the old Benchmark taste would be more similar to that of Crown Royal than other Bourbons made today. If not I would like to find a bourbon with a similar taste quality as that of the Benchmark I drank around 1986-88.

    Thanks, Scott

  7. #7
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    8,982

    Re: Seagram's Benchmark

    Thanks, of course the old Benchmark was a true bourbon. Its taste does not resemble that of Canadian whisky but its style does in the opinion of some here.

    You have raised a good question, and in another thread I discussed the fact that rummy, sweetish full-flavored bourbons seem more an older style that is hard to find today.

    However, there are some examples. Elmer T. Lee, a Buffalo Trace brand, tends to have a rich, uncomplex but impactful flavor. I recommend that as a good alternative to the old Benchmark. It is not super-costly but is a fine drink of whiskey at its best (bottles vary, as they do for almost all bourbons since bourbon results from partly natural processes). You want one which has a rich molasses-like taste and not too much earthiness.

    Gary
    Last edited by Gillman; 09-03-2008 at 12:07.

  8. #8
    Disciple
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    1,606

    Re: Seagram's Benchmark

    Quote Originally Posted by Exoticruler View Post
    I appreciate the information and discussion. Is it fair to say that the old Benchmark taste would be more similar to that of Crown Royal than other Bourbons made today. If not I would like to find a bourbon with a similar taste quality as that of the Benchmark I drank around 1986-88.

    Thanks, Scott
    The closest in style would be Four Roses Yellow label. It uses as many styles and flavors as can be found under one distillery umbrella. It leans much more towards a traditional bourbon profile, though. The Seagrams Benchmark didn't carry such a rich grain character...I think they mellowed it out with some extra age. Really made it soft and fruity. Surprisingly it wasn't over oaked either. FR's barrels also carry a unique signature to me.

    Nothing (outside of FR) really taste similar to the Seagrams Benchmark. It has a completely round and well balanced profile which cannot be found in todays market, IMO. Simply stated,...it is smooth with absolutely no edges. It is exactly the opposite of Wild Turkey rye.

    Seagrams had an extensive library of yeasts(over 2K, IIRC) and distilleries(5 in Ky)(many in other places) in which to use them. Quite mindblowing in comparison to todays producers. With that they were able to produce any style of whisky desired....and they did.
    ______________________________

    Jeff Mo.

  9. #9
    Disciple
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Location
    Austin, Texas
    Posts
    1,606

    Re: Seagram's Benchmark

    BTW, if you stop by Four Roses and sit with Al in his office....ask him to pour you some Benchmark....I left him a bottle a few months back. Said he would only pour it for special occasions.
    ______________________________

    Jeff Mo.

  10. #10
    Bourbonian of the Year 2011
    Join Date
    Sep 2002
    Location
    Toronto, Canada
    Posts
    8,982

    Re: Seagram's Benchmark

    I agree that Four Roses Yellow Label is a good example of a soft, rich, not complex (but well "blended") whiskey, sweetish too. However it is a bit more fruity/spicy than Benchmark was and younger, but still excellent. Elmer Lee is older than the old Benchmark but older whiskeys of today sometimes seem similar to whiskeys of a younger age in the past. (This may have something to do with the fact of younger trees being used to make the barrels today).

    I agree with Jeff that overall it is difficult to find that profile today. However the 2 brands mentioned are excellent bourbon...

    Gary

 

 

Similar Threads

  1. Seagram's Benchmark Bourbon
    By lyndarou in forum New to Straightbourbon
    Replies: 5
    Last Post: 12-28-2006, 15:32
  2. Seagram's 7 Crown
    By Gillman in forum Other American Whiskey
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 12-27-2004, 16:45
  3. Seagram's VO Gold
    By Gillman in forum Foreign Whiskey
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 10-25-2003, 14:08
  4. Seagram's Sale
    By kitzg in forum Industry News
    Replies: 0
    Last Post: 09-17-2001, 08:19
  5. Seagram's and Sazerac
    By **DONOTDELETE** in forum History
    Replies: 41
    Last Post: 01-23-2001, 18:05

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •  
Back to top