Buffalo Trace's Eagle Rare 10-Year Bourbon is one of the most sought-after bourbons in the whiskey world. I was curious how often people search for Eagle Rare, so I pulled up some Google analytics, and Eagle Rare is the 5th most popular bourbon searched. Approximately 74,000 Google searches a month are performed on Eagle Rare. That is a lot of fanfare and raises the question, is Eagle Rare 10-Year Bourbon worth the hype?
For those new to the bourbon experience, the hype behind and desire to find a bottle of Eagle Rare can be very passionate. Of course, a lot of the excitement depends on where you live. For instance, in Georgia, where I live, three years ago, Eagle Rare was indeed that, rare. The few bottles you would see were on the secondary market after the flippers gobbled up everything on the shelves. However, in the second half of 2021, Eagle Rare became mass distributed in Georgia. Now, it is everywhere and sitting on the shelves. What does that tell us? It tells us that rarity in a market can facilitate the hype of a product. This supply-demand relationship is especially true for anything produced by Buffalo Trace.
Why the Hype?
Aside from what I mentioned above, the hype behind Eagle Rare is a combination of supply, demand, and other factors. One factor contributing to the hype is the prominent 10-year age statement on a $39.99 bottle. A 10-year age statement in itself is rare to find these days; at least seemingly. However, if you look beyond the fervor, there are less expensive bourbons with a similar age statement that taste better or have a better palate. One of those is Elijah Craig Small Batch. Its age statement is between 8 and 12 years. You can find it everywhere for $10-$15 less than Eagle Rare, and it's a slightly higher proof. However, Elijah Craig does not have the Buffalo Trace name and marketing associated with it, and it is readily available, so there isn't a supply and demand problem. This is just one example.
Another hype factor are enthusiasts new to the bourbon game. Buffalo Trace is the first name new enthusiasts hear, and they dive head first into the bourbon pool, often focused on Buffalo Trace products. Still, kudos to Buffalo Trace for their ability to create this type of enthusiasm around their products, many of which are deserving of the attention.
So, What About The Taste?
Eagle Rare has proven to be an unspectacular tasting experience for my palate. It has a traditional oaky bourbon profile with a muted brown sugar taste and little depth of flavor or complexity. It is not "a great bourbon for its price." It is an average bottle at $39.99, maybe slightly above average, depending on what profile you look for in a bourbon.
There are very few bourbon enthusiasts, who have been in this game for many years, who wax poetic about the taste of a 90-proof Eagle Rare 10-Year shelfer (non-store pick). When they do speak at great length about their enthusiasm, it's always about a specific store pick.
Now I will say this, I have only had two bottles of Eagle Rare and its mysterious Buffalo Trace Mash Bill #1. One was a shelfer, and the other was a store pick. Both provided a similar tasting experience. However, when I discuss this Eagle Rare topic with other enthusiasts, they swear by Eagle Rare store picks. I am basing my judgment on the shelfers and the one store pick I had. Concerning store picks, I try not to write a review of a whiskey that only 200 people will obtain out of the 20,000 looking for it.