Review: Old Crow Reserve Bourbon

Review: Old Crow Reserve Bourbon

I get that the words “Old Crow” and “Reserve” don’t immediately make sense together.

Though it was the 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.

86 proof.

C / $12

Old Crow Reserve Bourbon




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.


  1. Danger! on July 9, 2010 at 12:41 am

    Also, I’m pretty sure this is full of ground glass and rat poison. Pretty much the only way to describe the hangover involved.

  2. texascarl on August 12, 2010 at 2:54 pm

    Old Crow was a pretty good bourbon as recently as the 1970’s, but has suffered under the ownership of the Jim Beam folks. This is the first attention they’ve paid to it since they inherited the brand. Any attention at all is a step in the right direction.

  3. Working man on June 5, 2012 at 9:52 am

    It’s an improvement over the ‘Dead’Crow (White label 3 year Regular ). It’ll always be an INEXPENSIVE(Cheap) Bourbon for mixing with a cola. That being said..Where’s my 7-11 Ironman cup? Let’s get to it.

  4. Bourbon me on January 17, 2014 at 5:22 pm

    I find this a fine spirit for mixing. Good for those who do not want a blended Whiskey. Not too strong. 86Proof. Not as harsh as Makers Mark or Knob Creek. I enjoy it. The price is right!

  5. force10 on October 25, 2015 at 1:20 pm

    This is great for the price. A lot smoother than I would have expected for 10 bucks. Of course, I’m saying this after 1.5 shots. But I’m on a budget right now, and this is very good compared to some of the other whiskeys I bought for around 10 bucks.

  6. force10 on October 25, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    And I sipped it straight. I want to taste the whiskey, not the coke. And good for a poor man. But happy.

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