Review #2 - Buffalo Trace Mashbill #2 Head to Head
Yea, the picture kind of says it all. Mash bill #2 from Buffalo Trace has some of the most famous and sought-after bourbons on the current market. These 4 offerings have a reputation, are scarce, and by most are considered a value at their MSRP. Because of this, it’s not too often that you find one of these bottles for that price – either on the secondary market or in any liquor store. If you do, keep shopping there.
Mash bill #2 is the higher rye recipe offering from Buffalo Trace and has a number of bottles in its lineup. The 4 to be tasted here are what I consider the base offering, at least for the United States. There are several international-only options for Blanton’s, and specialty releases like Elmer 100 are way too rare for somebody like me to obtain. So, for my purposes I have a lineup of:
· Hancock’s President’s Reserve (88.9 proof)
· Elmer T. Lee (90 proof)
· Blanton’s Single Barrel (93 proof)
· Rock hill Farms (100 proof)
Luckily for me, time + patience means I have all 4 without having to break the bank. The Rock Hill and Elmer came from a waiting list, Blanton’s is from a store I frequent, and Hancock was a happy accident at Costco – all at MSRP. Since then, I’ve acquired a couple back-ups, as anyone with my addiction would. If you can find them at a reasonable price (which is a personal discretion) then I personally believe they’re worth it, and I take most opportunities that I come across to purchase.
So, I continued doing one of the only things I’m enjoying during this Stay at Home period, having my wife setup a semi-blind tasting (She was happy it was only 4 this time). I’m kicking myself right now that it’s only 4 – stupidly I killed the bottle of Ancient Ancient Age that I had at the beginning of this quarantine and obviously haven’t made it out of LA to obtain another. Dumb. That stuff is 10 star.
All pours sat in glencairns for 10 minutes prior to tasting. Scores are between 1 (not great) and 5 (exceptional).
Nose: Citrus and cinnamon, Peach Cobbler - 3
Palate: Thin coating of the mouth, blackberries, light caramel, a sweetness that gives corn youth - 2
Finish: Thin on the finish, no heat, not a whole lot that builds off the mouth - 3 Total: 2.67 My Guess: Hancock’s Reserve
Nose: Ethanol, more proof than Glencairn 1, sugar cookies, cherries, and maybe some nuts - 4
Palate: Medium bodied, classic Mash bill #2 notes of fruit and caramel, vanilla, orange peel - 3
Finish: Citrus on the finish, thin, and a little warm - 3 Total: 3.33 My Guess: Blanton’s
Nose: Cinnamon and clove, Honey, orange and citrus fruits - 4
Palate: Full, syrupy coating of the mouth and lingering flavor of vanilla and pralines - 4
Finish: Not as heavy as I’d like but definitely not as light as the first two, some heat suggesting higher proof, and red fruits - 3 Total: 3.67 My Guess: Rock hill Farms
Nose: Overpowering caramel, light cherries, and some sweet wood - 4
Palate: Medium coating, I pick out butterscotch right away with some cinnamon and light citrus - 4
Finish: Thin but easy, sweetness persists - 3 Total: 3.67 My Guess: Elmer T. Lee
1. Elmer T. Lee (WHAT?!)
2. Hancock Reserve
3. Rock Hill Farms
Oh, my God, what have I done…
I went into this with personal bias, of course. Rock Hill remains my favorite of this lineup and I was extremely confident I had nailed that pick. I was also extremely confident in calling my second favorite of Elmer which turned out to be Blanton’s. For more than a few bottles now, I’ve believed that Elmer was the superior product, hence why I’m very surprised I actually rated it the lowest of the four. If you simply go off the message boards (looking at you, Reddit), then you could be encouraged to lay off of Blanton’s entirely, as it’s grown to have a reputation of having its price driven by scarcity instead of quality. For this bottle, not the case.
This does not mean I’m laying off Elmer…. The bottom line for me is that all of these bottles are single barrels, so the quality and tasting notes of what’s inside may vary widely. So, while I was generally surprised at how these results panned out, I’m still more than happy to throw my money at all of the products from Mash bill #2 as daily drinkers or gifts to friends.
At or close to MSRP.