Review: Ezra Brooks Kentucky Straight Bourbon

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Let’s be clear: We’re drinking the bottom shelf with Ezra Brooks, a sub-$15 bourbon that got its start in the 1950s (not quite 1800 as the label would have you believe) and became part of what’s now the Missouri-based Luxco Corporation in 1993. In keeping with many ultra-cheap bespoke bourbons, Heaven Hill makes Ezra Brooks on Luxco’s behalf. This expression, colloquially known as “Ezra Brooks Black Label,” carries no age statement, but it is bottled at a slightly higher proof.

It’s not a bad whiskey. On the nose, there’s plenty of vanilla, butterscotch, and some gentle lumberyard notes. Basic and uncomplicated, but not unpleasurable. The body is soft and quite mild, with some initial notes of apple cider and a stronger vanilla character than the nose offers at first. As it develops, the apple notes fade into a more general citrus character, with a backing of baking spices, particularly cinnamon. A hint of chocolate on the back end takes things out on a slightly sweet note.

Bottom shelf it may be, but Ezra Brooks is nonetheless a well-made (if uncomplicated) bourbon that acquits itself admirably. While it may be designed for dumping into punch bowls or mixing liberally with Coke, it actually drinks just fine on its own. No shame there, folks.

90 proof.

B+ / $14 / ezrabrooks.com

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8 Responses

  1. nottlv June 14, 2015 / 4:11 pm

    Thankfully I’m flush enough where I don’t have to delve into the bottom shelf too often, but I’ll probably try this simply for the fact that I think the Ezra Brooks 101 7 Year and Ezra B 12 Year Single Barrel are both greats values in terms of proof & age if you like the characteristic Heaven Hill char. I know NDP get a bad rap by many in the bourbon community, but the I think Luxco is doing a good job offering great value with this line.

  2. Cal November 8, 2015 / 5:51 pm

    Hello kind folks-
    My friend introduced me to bourbon about 3 years ago. Offered me some JB Black; gave me a fifth for 2 consecutive Christmases…..I never really was a spirits person, (really didn’t drink much at all) but after trying JB Black, and then Knob Creek, I hoped to find a less expensive hobby…yuk, yuk.
    You see I’m not a bourbon connoisseur; So I searched the net for a less costly brand……and settled on Ezra Brooks 90 proof. I have been drinking EZ straight for about a year now, and go through only a ½ pint or so on weekends, and just love the stuff…..
    For a part time drinker, the taste is great, and also is the price. I can buy it in ½ pints, pints and fifths. Also, EZ has a really cool looking label!
    Cheers!
    Cal
    Allen Park, MI

    BTW- Check this benefits of whisky article.
    https://www.organicfacts.net/health-benefits/beverage/whiskey.html

  3. dan November 30, 2015 / 8:57 pm

    Cal….You and I are in similair places with bourbons/whiskeys. I’ve tried the great ones…until I felt guilty about spending so much…and I am in agreement. EZ, and EW are two easy sipping Bourbon Whiskeys…..neat. Of course I LOVE THE OCCASIONAL Knob Creek, Woodford Reserve, or if available Buffalo Trace. But practicaly speaking…YOU are right on the track to sensible, affordable appreciation of bourbons. I concur totally.

  4. Dolph December 20, 2015 / 6:15 pm

    Tried EB90 over a year ago and found to be slightly amped up Evan Williams Black. Just purchased a new bottle and that is no longer the case. It now smells and taste just like Cabin Still (and Henry McKenna and Heaven Hill Black). I think the juice now being bottled is considerably younger. Disappointing.

  5. johnny April 25, 2016 / 7:20 pm

    Been drinking Ezra Brooks for years and honestly, and strongly believe that it is only the ad hype that leaves rookie sour mash drinkers always insisting on Jack D. Yeah EB is cheaper, but as good as top shelf and hands down beats everything on the bottom shelf.

  6. Ken Burkholder May 19, 2016 / 1:33 pm

    I have been drinking Ezra Brooks 90 straight for years and find it just as good as the better bourbon whiskies. It is as smooth as Gentleman Jack, to me. Now I understand taste is different. Give it a try and I think you will be pleasantly surprised. It meets my needs and does not break the bank.

  7. Moose the great November 6, 2016 / 3:00 pm

    This is the best burbon for the price. It is good enough to drink neat or on ice and cheap enough for my wife to pour ginger ale over. This is a great burbon.

  8. P. Evans November 9, 2016 / 11:50 pm

    ‘ezra brooks’ is an easy to drink bourbon. is it the best??? my idea of best comes with a high price tag. that’s ok if you’re loaded or just enjoying your best once in a while, but for a daily drink…not half bad. if this turns into your Kool-Aid, get help, otherwise enjoy.

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