Early Times 354 bourbon
Aged 4 years, 80 proof
Suggested retail price: $15/750ml
People are always asking me to recommend bourbons – particularly bargain bourbons. Today we’ll taste a great bargain: Early Times 354. The Early Times name has been around for a long time – in fact, in the 1950s, Early Times was one of the best-selling bourbons in the United States. But years ago, the brand was converted to a whiskey. In February 2011, Brown-Forman reintroduced Early Times bourbon. The “354” refers to the permit number of the distillery, and the bottle has a cool retro appeal. Let’s see how they did with what’s inside.
Nose: The Early Times mash bill has a high corn content – 79 percent – and you’ll smell a lot of that up front, along with caramel, vanilla and oak.
Taste: The caramel and vanilla persist, but there’s a bit of pepper there to spice things up, with a hint of apple. The finish is fairly short and soft.
Verdict: Seeing the price, you might dismiss Early Times 354, but that would be a mistake. This is a very nice bourbon, particularly at this price point – sweet, but with more complexity than you would expect from 80 proof.