Are you ready to climb even higher heights of peak bourbon? Eagle Rare 25 is the new impressively ornate ultra-aged bourbon from Buffalo Trace that aims to ascend to a perch among the most coveted American whiskeys on the market. To achieve the feat of extending Eagle Rare bourbon well beyond its typical age of maturity, master distiller Harlen Wheatley and his team put Buffalo Trace’s newly minted Warehouse P to good use. The newest of two experimental aging facilities at the Frankfort, Kentucky distillery, Warehouse P is climate-controlled, which allows the team to utilize barrels initially earmarked for their annual Eagle Rare 17 release by altering the aging conditions. By custom-fitting the temperature, lighting, and humidity levels of the experimental warehouse as they see fit, the team found that they were able to breathe new life into their stock of well-aged barrels.
There’s some hope that the success of this initial experiment might mean that 30, 40, or even 50-year bourbon might someday make its way to market -– after a few more decades, of course. The liquid that became Eagle Rare 25 was first placed in Warehouse P when it opened back in 2018 and though this initial release only produced 200 bottles, with a 2,500-barrel capacity at the facility you can bet your bottom (and top) dollar that we’ll see more ultra-aged whiskey from Buffalo Trace in due course.
If you’re already salivating at the prospect of Buffalo Trace whiskey aged well beyond the two-decade mark, then brace yourself for the price -– an eye-popping $10,000. You probably needn’t look for one at your corner liquor store. The idea is to situate these releases in the global luxury market where the oldest Scotches fetch six figure sums. While it’s far beyond the $2,000 asking price of Double Eagle Very Rare, the game plan makes sense on paper, as Buffalo Trace has already all but cornered the market on high-priced premium American whiskey and looks to gain even more ground on the global stage.
Since age ain’t nothing but a number, it has to be asked: how does Eagle Rare 25 taste? The answer is, surprisingly vibrant! Having tried it in a vertical next to Eagle Rare 10, Eagle Rare 17, and Double Eagle Very Rare, I can say the Eagle Rare 25 has an exuberance unrivaled by its two closest age mates. Boasting an aroma of sweet oak, brown butter, mixed berry tarts, and gentle baking spice, Eagle Rare 25 immediately comes across as a mature and robust whiskey that defies its proof and avoids the pitfalls of old age by featuring a bounty of riches on the nose.
Once the liquid reaches your lips the real magic occurs, as Eagle Rare 25 displays a lively deftness across the palate reminiscent of a whiskey less than half its age. Cocktail cherries and gooey caramel meld with candied ginger and fresh cracked pepper, but don’t overlook the substantial but surprisingly restrained display of well-aged oak that undergirds it all. While the finish is the clearest indication that you’re sipping a whiskey well into its golden years, the vibrancy of each sip will keep you coming back for more and readily excuse Eagle Rare 25’s sole shortcoming.
How Eagle Rare 25 will be viewed in the future is anyone’s guess. Further experiments could wither on the vine or continue to push the portfolio to new heights, but let it be said definitively in the here and now that Eagle Rare 25 is quite easily the brand’s best expression to date. If spending a princely sum on decanters with hand-hammered stainless steel inlays isn’t your thing, then rest assured that the liquid inside is worth more than its weight in gold.
A+ / $10,000 / buffalotracedistillery.com