Bourbon’s have great names. Many of them titled, we can only hope, after cranky, old, Kentucky gentlemen who still wear either torn-up overalls or natty seersucker suits and bow-ties, and lock their mashbill recipes up in the same homemade safes they keep their revolvers in. An unfair stereotype, I know, but come on, put the words Elmer T. Lee, or Pappy Van Winkle next to a picture of an old still and not too many people are going to think of a high school quarterback living in Reseda, CA. If not given their creator’s namesake, bourbons often get evocative place names like Heaven Hill, Buffalo Trace, or Rowan’s Creek, or the quasi-patriotic Eagle Rare or Rebel Yell type thing. Then there’s Old Crow…
I know, I know, Old Crow is named after its founder, a distilling-wise Scot named James Crow, who started bottling the stuff in the 1830’s making it one of the countries oldest bourbons. But still, it’s not the most appetizing of names…
“What’s in the bottle?”
“No shit? you jammed an old dead carrion fowl into that bottle and now you’re drinking it down here by the tracks?”.
The name does conjure up a certain backwoods something or other and even though it’s now owned by the monolithic Fortune Brands and produced at the Jim Beam Distillery, with all this home-infusing of liquor going on these days, one can’t be too careful.
The Nose: Mild and sweet, there’s almost a fresh quality, with candied licorice playing a big role…think Good N’ Plenty candies. There’s also some tangerine notes, a faint whiff of Kentucky vanilla and char and a hint of corn oil. I do not smell any crow at all, which, while something of a relief, also feels like kind of a rip-off.
The Palate: Thin, slightly oily mouthfeel which starts out sweetly empty if that makes any sense, sort of like simple syrup with just a touch of vanilla. Then things quickly turn spicy and grainy with a touch of burnt popcorn. A nice amount of youngish char builds towards the end as well. As with the nose, I’m not picking up any crow here…It’s looking like I’ll have to go out and get my own.
The Finish: A tad harsh, but just a tad. Spicy still with even more charred oak coming through. It’s towards the end where The Crow shows its age…or lack thereof.
Thoughts: Long ago, I used to drink too much Old Crow, before I realized how refined and fantastic good whiskey could be, so it’s interesting to return to the scene of so many crimes. Old Crow contains no crow whatsoever, and is actually a fairly decent whisky. Though a little harsh towards the end, it’s less so than 3 years and around $7-$8/bottle would lead one to believe. I actually feel a little bad lumping Old Crow in with the other Bargain Bin Fridays, but in this case, it’s actually a bargain. Granted, it will not measure up against premium and boutique bourbons, but there are many, many whiskies out there that are far worse for more money. The Crow still flies.
Old Crow Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey