Whisky Advocate

Early Times becomes a bourbon with new release

November 16th, 2010

I just got this from my contact at Brown-Forman.

“We’d like to confirm some of the rumors going around regarding Early Times. The iconic Early Times brand is returning to its roots as a bourbon beginning in January 2011. The new brand, called Early Times 354 Bourbon (354 for the original permit number for the distillery) will be bottled at 80 proof. After an absence in the US market of nearly 30 years, Early Times 354 Bourbon joins Early Times Kentucky Whisky in an expansion of the presence of the famous Early Times brand at retail.”

This is good news. I’m glad to hear it. Details to follow.

14 Responses to “Early Times becomes a bourbon with new release”

  1. Rick Duff says:

    This is interesting news. I’m not sure about being glad to hear it.
    I applauded their move in their Kentucky Whisky in not using 100% new oak… I appreciate the flavour differences… and it’s nice to see what difference the oak makes. Now it will be easier to tell as well.. tasting the Kentucky Whisky version vs the 354 Bourbon version.

    I don’t understand the perception that whisky made in the USA isn’t real whisky unless it’s in new barrels and legally defined as bourbon. Used barrels sure work well for the Scotch and Canadians.

    Just a thought.. not meant as a rant.

  2. About damn time! Been wanting to try their export bourbon for awhile but it looks like I won’t have to go to the trouble of finding one now. Works for me.

  3. Mashbill says:

    This could of been exciting, until I got to the proof. 80 proof??? Leave it to Brown-Forman to blow a great opportunity with connoisseurs.

  4. Ethan Smith says:

    I agree, Mashill. 80 proof? Hopefully there will be BIB bottlings available in the future. Hey, Old Forester did it a few years back with the Repeal Bourbon sets. Why not some BIB Early Times Bourbon?

    • Rick Duff says:

      I just had some of the Old Forester Repeal the other night, and was shocked.. it’s not bourbon.. it’s labelled a blend of old Kentucky Whiskies…

  5. John Hansell says:

    Yeah, I would have preferred a higher strength, but let’s see how it tastes before rendering judgement.

    • Texas says:

      I am likely the only one on here that likes it, but I think Jim Beam White at 80 proof has a good taste, and has some character. I am willing to give this a try if it’s in the $13-16 category.

      • sam k says:

        I’m not against Jim Beam by any means, but at $5 less and 6 degrees of proof higher, I’ll take Evan Williams all the way. I don’t think Early Times will come down to this price point, though.

        • Texas says:

          The only thing about EW Black is that yes it is smoother, but it almost tastes like nothing. JBW is rougher, but with character. Ezra Brooks 90 at $13 a bottle is a good one.

          • sam k says:

            Tex, again, to each his own. If we all leaned toward the same brand, there’d be no need for choice at all! Agreed on the Ezra, though. The value in bourbon in general can’t be beat. On that I’m sure we all agree.

  6. Ethan Smith says:

    Point taken. I’ve had some basic 80 proof stuff that isn’t too bad- Cabin Still and Heaven Hill white label come to mind (I know, I’m crazy for thinking those are good.). Any idea of age? 4-6 would probably be optimal for this product.

  7. sam k says:

    There are VERY few 80 proofers that hold any interest for me whatsoever. Dickel No. 8 and Four Roses yellow label come to mind, but I’m definitely disappointed already at B-F’s approach to the relaunch. Early Times relegation to the status of “whisky” only was an inexplicable move. I bought one bottle, and that was it.

    This decision is a slim ray of hope, but the last Early Times straight bourbon I had back in 1980 was bottled at 90.4 proof. Unfortunately they’ve resorted to the “Danielization” of their product. It’s a good thing the regulations don’t permit 70 proof bourbons or we’d have plenty of them, too.

  8. Ken says:

    Dear John,

    I’d like to return to an earlier topic, but I can’t find the post. I think you were discussing your ratings number range….

    My question is: what are YOUR ultimate goals in rating? Do you want more to express yourself, or do you want more to help others? Or have you not yet resolved this question?

    At the former, you’ve been doing a highly admirable job! I LOVE reading what you think of something (clementine? really? not mandarin? are you absolutely positive?) whether or not I can relate. But at the latter, I’m struggling to glean the benefit from your considerable expertise.

    For example: recently you rated a wheater Bourbon lower because it was “too easy-drinking”. But I’ve tasted a range of Bourbons, and at my current stage of whisky development, the wheaters are giving me more joy. So how can I use your expertise to help me find the best wheaters for the money?

    For another example: earlier you rated a sherried single-malt Scotch lower for being “too sherried”. But I’m still trying (and failing) to evolve beyond the 1970s <$50 Macallan 18. So how can I use your expertise to help me find the best low-peat high-sherry single-malts for the money?

    And if I CAN'T benefit from your expertise in my whisky purchasing decisions, then why, if YOU were ME, would YOU spend time reading YOU?

    Of course you could simply say "hey, it's only whisky, you do whatever floats your boat, and I'll do whatever floats mine". But I'm hoping to stimulate a deeper discussion.

  9. Pete Rademacher says:

    If you want the BEST whisky available try Wisers Very Old Whiskey-18 yrs. old from Ontario Canada.It’s as smooth as glass with no perceivable burn and tons of flavor. As far as Early Times whiskey, I prefer it to Jack Daniels and Jim Beam- 2 to 1. I just tried the E.T. Bourbon and thought it was much better than Beam for flavor and mildness. Just my opinion, happy sipping all.

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