|Bill Dowd photo|
Old Crow is an old name among bourbons, but there's always room for a change. I was fortunate to be sent a free advance sample of Beam Global's newest expression to test the waters before its release.
• Old Crow Reserve
As a longtime bourbon aficionado, I find that although I always enjoy a new expression I tend to lapse back to my "house bourbon" for Manhattans and my sippin' bourbon for quiet moments. For me, that's the standard Jim Beam and the Basil Hayden, in that order.
So, when I come across something that might shake up the order of my universe, I'm always on guard. Was it just the flush of something new that made me reconsider my priorities?
In this case, yes and no. Old Crow Reserve, bottled at 86 proof (43% abv) in a distinctive black-labeled bottle, certainly was new and appealing. But it was not simply something of passing interest. This is a superb spirit that fits splendidly into both of my bourbon uses -- cocktails and straight.
Old Crow Reserve has a lengthy pedigree. It is a four-year-old expression of what was begun in 1835 by Dr. James C. Crow, the Scottish chemist who invented the sour mash process now used by all bourbon distillers. The regular OC is a year younger.
It is slightly oakier than regular Old Crow, itself a light style bourbon, but has the same finely balanced notes of caramel and vanilla that distinguish the good bourbons of Kentucky and give evidence of their maturation in new white oak.
Also, the medium body and higher alcohol content makes Reserve a bit punchier than the standard OC, although without any resultant harshness.
When it hits the market in the coming months, make a point of trying it. I think you'll enjoy the experience.
Suggested retail price: $10 to $12 for the 750ml bottle.
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