Ah, Hancock’s President’s Reserve, the redheaded stepchild of the Buffalo Trace single barrel bourbon lineup. It’s a bit of an off duck, not just because of the peculiar number of possessives in the name. Firstly, the proof is unusual and not quite the Buffalo Trace standard. The distribution is limited, even for a Buffalo Trace product. Hell, it doesn’t even show up on the distillery’s website (you need to go directly to Sazerac’s webpage). And the name? It’s a tribute to Hancock Lee, a founder of the Leestown settlement along the Kentucky River, atop the ruins of which Buffalo Trace Distillery now sits. No clue how the presidential element fits into things. The bourbon in the bottle? Some interweb sleuthing suggests that it’s made from Buffalo Trace’s high rye mashbill, which would put it in the rarified company of Elmer T. Lee and Blanton’s, but outside of that, there’s little more I can tell you. How does it taste? Let’s find out.
The aroma is light with gentle, traditional bourbon notes, mostly brown sugar and vanilla. A mildly fruity element adds some complexity, but for the most part, this is classic, straightforward stuff. The palate is mild and gentle at first sip with a heat that builds nicely into the finish. On the flavor-front, however, things are a bit flat. Notes of caramel and vanilla bean are without much nuance and when the baking spice arrives, it’s similarly muted. The most prominent note is actually one of honey dissolved in a dark tea which lingers into the medium-length finish with just a bit of rye spice. While Elmer it’s not, Hancock’s Reserve is an entirely approachable and serviceable bourbon, perfect for newbie straight sippers or those looking for an easy drinking pour.
Note: Even at its $50 SRP, this one is already a bit of an investment, but as with every other Buffalo Trace single barrel product on the market, prices have gotten ridiculous. I’ll let you good people decide what to do with your money.