Bourbon Reviews

Ancient Age


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It is a commonly held belief that “whisky snobs” dislike all forms of American “whiskey” or bourbon; similar, in fact, to the belief that American beer is made from one part water and one part make-believe. Both of these statements are, in fact, incorrect – America has some of the best (in my opinion) breweries in the world (Anchor, Flying Dog, Left hand, Sierra Nevada, the list goes on) and there is no drink more apt after a big old summer barbecue than an American bourbon. So while Scotch whiskys are what I will be reviewing most of the time, I will also take a look at several bourbons, starting with Ancient Age.

Ancient Age is distilled by the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky, and is by definition a Kentucky Straight Bourbon. It is worth noting that the Buffalo Trace Distillery is the oldest in the US, and has been around since around 1770, but under different names. Other whiskies distilled on the site include Buffalo Trace, Blanton’s and Eagle Rare. Ancient Age is one of the oldest whiskies in the distilleries portfolio, and has been around since 1946. Until the launch of Buffalo Trace, Ancient Age was the distillers’ best selling expression.

So, is it any good? The answer to that question is Yes and, directly and without hesitation, No. It is far from a top-tier bourbon, but then you wouldn’t expect it to be top tier considering its low price. From a value for money point of view, it is definitely not a bad purchase. The nose reveals distinct hints of toffee, vanilla (in true bourbon fashion), caramel and just a hint of ginger. The palate is fairly dry, while still presenting the sweetness often associated with bourbon, and somewhat spicy. While the flavors and aroma are both pleasant, my one issue with this bourbon is that it is, unfortunately, somewhat watery and lacking of that syrupy thickness that one would expect from a good Kentucky Straight.

Eye: Somewhat lighter than your average bourbon, golden brown.

Nose: Fresh corn, caramel, toffee, vanilla, ginger, perhaps a touch of rye.

Palate: Presents much the same characteristics as the nose, but with a slightly dry and watery feel. Added hint of spice.

Overall, I would definitely say that this is worthwhile purchasing if you’re looking for bourbon below $30. In the same price range I would pick it over Jim Beam 3 times out of 5, but would probably (partially for nostalgic reasons, granted) choose Jack Daniels 4 times out of 5.

Want to buy this whiskey? Available in: USA & World (click)UK & Europe (click)

About Whisky Critic

My name is Martin and I live in Scotland. I love fine things in life, such as gourmet food, travelling around the world and, last but not least, whisky (naturally, I’m partial to a tipple of whiskey or bourbon as well). I have tasted hundreds of whiskies during the recent years and I finally decided to share my experience.

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  1. Alicia Ortega

    July 27, 2011 at 6:00 am

    an address to your story was provided by Christian Dillstrom, the mobile + social media marketing mastermind, so you must be doing a fantastic job!

  2. Adam clark

    October 25, 2011 at 7:27 am

    I’m no ancient age fanboy, but I will give it this: it IS bourbon. Jack daniels is tennessee whiskey. There is a difference. I prefer evan williams at this price point ($12us), but the grocery store near my town doesn’t carry it. I think ancient age is an ok drink if you don’t have cash for a good good bourbon. Btw, you get raped for bourbon over there. I wonder if it’s the same over here. We pay $27usd for 750 mL jameson or johnnie walker red. Do you overpay that much for american whiskey?

  3. martin

    October 25, 2011 at 1:32 pm

    Hi Adam,

    Quite right you are, I suppose my closing remarks may confuse people slightly – I was merely trying to provide a point of reference that most people are familiar with. 🙂 As for price rape, we get it far worse than you I’m afraid! A bottle of JW red is about £17 here which is basically spot on $27, but that’s for 700ml. Evan Williams, which you mentioned is $12 over there, would set you back £25 ($40) or so here.

  4. mike walkup

    December 8, 2011 at 9:35 pm

    i have a 1933 bottle of Ancient Age unopened. would it be any good ?

  5. anton

    December 10, 2011 at 6:31 am

    Drinking a bottle of ancient for $7,59+ 7% tax. Love the states.


    drunken swede

  6. Whisky Addict

    December 18, 2011 at 2:56 pm

    @Mike – That’s very difficult to say.. It is commonly held that whisky/whiskey does “age” in the bottle, though of course not in the same sense as it ages in a barrel. This is especially true for opened bottles.. but even whiskey kept in an unopened bottle is likely to have changed character considerably over such a long period of time. Whether for the better or worse, well, that’s impossible to say without trying it! Are you looking to sell it or keep it for yourself? If the latter, I would suggest buying a new bottle as well to use as a point of reference, which could be very interesting indeed! If you do, I for one would love to hear your findings!

    @Anton – Christ on a bike, that’s cheap!

  7. steve

    November 1, 2012 at 9:19 pm

    i have a 1 gallon bottle of ancient age unopened from 1972,.anyone know what this is worth?,it’s a huge bottle!

    • Hot Rod Duane

      February 26, 2015 at 6:17 pm

      Hello Do you still have that bottle of 72 Ancient age ? I would love to purchase it .

      • kebal00

        December 21, 2016 at 1:37 pm

        Hi hot Rod I have one of these bottles you might be interested in seeing.

  8. petros

    December 30, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Brand: Ancient Age
    Clear glass -Square tall bottle – Cream label printed in black & red – Rounded label in blob seal – Gold screw cap..Good evening send pictures from an old your bottle. would like to send me some information. has found it in an old warehouse 44 years ago my grandfather.thanks

  9. Daav

    January 30, 2013 at 4:05 pm

    I’ll tell you what a ’72 gallon sized bottle of Ancient Age is worth! It’s worth drinkin’!

    – #1 AA Fan

  10. bucweet

    March 11, 2013 at 2:49 am

    I have an empty gallon Ancient Age bottle and the pouring cradle hanging stand. (cherry wood) The bottle sit in the cradle and swings on an upper pivot, allowing an easy pour without lifting the whole bottle. Real fancy set up. Any idea what it’s worth?

  11. Hot Rod Duane

    February 26, 2015 at 6:36 pm

    Hello, Any one on here remember what the real Ancient age tasted like ? My Grandfather drank nothing but Ancient age from the 40s until he passed away in the 90s . Let me tell I grew up drinking it too when I came of age . For some reason the changed the recipe sometime around 1999 or 2000 . I remember buying a bottle one day and something was wrong . Something had changed . I had to quit drinking it and switched to JD. Over the years I would buy a bottle and try it again only to pour it out . Well about two months ago I was visiting an old friend . He said you left of bottle of Ancient age here about 15 years ago and I still have it . Well I said lets have a drink . So we poured a couple and O my God it was the Original good stuff ! Tears started running down my check as memories of my grandfather and that whisky he would give me a sip of once in awhile when I was a young one .Its was so good ! I said lets run down to the liquor store and buy a new bottle . We came back and make two drinks . The new stuff was nasty . I was right they had changed the recipe. When they made the good stuff everyone of my friends back in the 80s and 90s that I introduced it to would switch for JD and start drinking Ancient Age .Its was that good . So does anyone know how we can get them to start making it the old way again ? I would pay JD price for it . I would love to see them bring it back in the cool glass bottles they used to make it in too . They used to be narrow at the bottom and wide at the top . With a ribbon award at the top . I remember you could get 6 year old or 8 year old stuff . It was awesome . I think now with whisky drinking on the rise now would be a could time to remarket it bring it up to the original recipe and make it the award winning higher scale glass bottle whisky it used to be . I would be willing to bring what’s left in that old bottle to Kentucky if that’s what’s needed to figure out what was different . Not sue who to get in touch with about it ?

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