The Last Buffalo Trace Distillery Bourbon You Should Settle For

glass of bourbon in tumbler
glass of bourbon in tumbler - sweet marshmallow/Shutterstock

Those not familiar with the world of spirits may be surprised to find out that every bottle of alcohol on the shelf of the liquor store doesn't necessarily have a distillery behind it. Rather, many distilleries are large, industrial operations that produce various types and iterations of spirits sold under numerous brands. One of the most vaunted of these large-scale distillers is Buffalo Trace which has been producing bourbon and spirits since 1775, making it one of the nation's older distilleries. But clout and pedigree don't mean that every drop of bourbon that leaves its aging houses is equal.

No, Buffalo Trace barrels are bound for several different bourbon and rye brands, including its eponymous bottle, the highly sought-after Pappy Van Winkle whiskies, and even celebrity-endorsed brands, such as country superstar Chris Stapleton's Traveler Whiskey. Tasting Table reviewed the extensive portfolio of Buffalo Trace whiskies to sort out the great from the so-so and found that Old Charter 8 is scraping the bottom of the barrel.

That is not to say the Kentucky straight bourbon is undrinkable; it fairs well in a highball or cocktail. But when tasted solo, Old Charter 8 is hurt by its blandness and thin flavor, especially when compared to other heavy-hitting bourbons in the Buffalo Trace family. As far as affordable bourbons go, Old Charter is everything it needs to be, but it isn't a must-pour for the connoisseur.

Read more: The 27 Best Bourbon Brands, Ranked

Opinions - And Versions - Of Old Charter Vary

Old Charter bourbon bottles
Old Charter bourbon bottles - Casey Buckley / X (formerly known as Twitter)

Of course, Tasting Table's is just one opinion, and it must be remembered that Old Charter 8 was being compared against its labelmates and not all other bourbons. Other tasters have sung its praises. Over at Bourbon Enthusiast, tasters found the nose on Old Charter to be "well-balanced" between notes of honey, vanilla, and pepper, with a flavor that is "dry and sophisticated" with a bit of spice, toffee, and oak. Adventures in Whiskey finds Old Charter 8 "pretty smooth" with a "nice, medium body." Spirits Review, however, says there is "not much" to this bourbon, proclaiming it to be comparatively "disappointing."

It should be noted that Old Charter 8 is not the only bourbon in the Old Charter line that Buffalo Trace produces. If you enjoy the entry-level whiskey, consider some of the more-aged expressions in the Old Charter Oak series. A variety of oak woods are used to make the barrels and the bourbons see aging as long as 12 years -- though whiskey age statements can be confusing -- for the French oak expression. Other woods include Canadian oak, Mongolian oak, Chinkapin oak, and Spanish oak -- which earned a spot on our list of best bourbons of 2023 -- each imparting its unique characteristics on the Old Charter inside.

Read the original article on Tasting Table