I get that the words “Old Crow” and “Reserve” don’t immediately make sense together.
Though it was first ever sour mash whiskey, dates back to the 1830s, and counts U.S. Grant among its famous drinkers, it’s still a budget brand, sold by the handle for $10 or less, a simply bourbon that gets the job done and leaves you money leftover for chips.
Aged three years, standard Old Crow can be charitably described as simple. Old Crow Reserve takes the decades-old formula and tweaks it: Add 6 to the proof (now 86 instead of 80), $2 to the price (now about $12), and one year to the aging (4 instead of 3). Result: A slightly different whiskey that nonetheless remains as easy as they come.
Old Crow Reserve, while a big step up from regular ‘Crow, is hardly anything you’ll be sipping straight after a big meal. Clearly a bourbon for the “and Coke” crowd, it’s distinctly caramel on the nose (to the point of tasting artificial), with a cinnamon kick on the body. Very sweet, it has a rough finish that reminds you of how little time this has spent in the barrel, and warns you how you’re likely to feel come the morning if you keep it up, smart guy.
C / $12 / oldcrowreserve.com