The brand, “Early Times” actually originated in the 1860s. Early Times Bottled-in-Bond was created in the 1940s. As a reminder, a Bottled-in-Bond bourbon means this bourbon must be the product of one distiller that is distilled at one American distillery during one distilling season. The whisky must be aged for AT LEAST four years under federal government supervision in secured federal buildings and bottled at 100 proof. The Bottled-In-Bond Act of 1897, helped create quality standards that consumers could trust. Back then, there was A LOT of shady practices in American Whiskey.
The brand was owned by Brown-Forman, which also owns brands such as Old Forester, Woodford Reserve, and Jack Daniel’s. However, it was recently acquired by Sazerac Company, which is the parent company of Buffalo Trace Distillery and Barton 1792 Distillery.
I get the classic bourbon notes. Caramel and vanilla. There is a hint of copper that is trying to sneak through. The more time I spend on the nose, the more fruit notes I pick up. I am getting more of the darker fruit notes. There is some nuttiness there as well. Peanuts to be exact. The more I nose this bourbon, the more smells I pick up. There seems to be a different note each time I pick up the glass. There seems to be a lot going on right from the start. As eager as I am to taste this, I am really enjoying spending time smelling this whiskey.
Neat. The very first sip, I get so many flavors punching through. At first, I didn’t feel the 100 proof but it picks back up on the finish. It starts with flavors of caramel, vanilla, and nuttiness and then gradually warms you up and finishes with some of those dark fruit notes. Sounds like a dumb thing to say, but this just reminds me of a “Classic” Kentucky Bourbon. It has all of those typical characteristics. This bourbon could compete with several bourbons well above its price point. AND WIN. I would be VERY interested in tasting this blind.
Adding a few drops of water. The water brings those darker fruit notes that were originally on the back end, to the front. Caramel and vanilla are still there but this time I even picked up some fresh oak.
Adding an ice ball. If you typically prefer an ice ball or on the rocks, or if you aren’t a fan of the 100 proof, I think the ice ball helps cool it down but maintains some of the flavors. This makes it very drinkable and refreshing. The caramel, vanilla, and a tiny bit of barrel are still there. Some of the other flavors were lost with the ice though.
Mixing with Coke. Classic bourbon and Coke here. This one isn’t coloring outside of the lines at all. If anything, it’s a little sweeter but still classic bourbon and Coke. At this price point, it’s a great option if you prefer mixing your whiskey.
It was a gradual journey to the finish that I really enjoyed. I picked up the darker fruit notes and slight oak towards the end.
WOW. With each step in my review, this bourbon made me want to just slow down and enjoy the part of the journey that I was on. I wanted to keep nosing the bourbon to see what else I could get out of it. Then once I started drinking it, I was even more impressed. This is a bourbon that I would love to pour in a glass, put on some music, and just enjoy the flavors opening up for about an hour or so. For a bourbon to be this quality at a local price point of $24 for a 1-liter bottle, is AMAZING! This is the definition of, bang for your buck!