Ancient Age Bourbon Review


By Richard Thomas

Rating: C-

Among straight bourbon whiskeys standards, few brands have quite the same reputation for low cost and reliability as Ancient Age. The brand has been around since after the Second World War, and for a long time the bourbon was the entry-level whiskey and big bulk seller of the George T. Stagg Distillery, now known as Buffalo Trace. Indeed, Stagg was sometimes referred to as the Ancient Age Distillery. Back when I was a college student working in a bowling alley, a handful of the Ancient Age workers formed a distillery team for one of the league nights.

The Bourbon
Basic Ancient Age is a young straight bourbon bottled at 80 proof, and although there is no aging statement the contents are roughly three years old. That youth is plain to the eye, since the coloring is a pale amber, something like gold with a little copper mixed in.

Keeping all that in mind, the nose is surprisingly rich and floral, thick with corn sweetness and orange zest, with a teaspoon of vanilla added in for good measure. From a sniffing point of view, this is actually quite a good bourbon.

On the palate, Ancient Age veers back to expectation. The whiskey offers the core bourbon flavors — corny sweet, a little spice, caramel, vanilla — with a touch of dry woodiness, but the texture is much too thin to progress beyond. Following that young and thin line, the finish is nice and warm, but otherwise undistinguished.

The Price
The price tag is where Ancient Age has always been a winner. Unremarkable it might be, but a fifth (750 ml) is routinely available for $13 or less. Even the one liter bottles rarely run more than $17, and the most expensive I have ever seen a 1.75 liter bottle go for with my own eyes is $20.

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  1. patrick matthews

    why are the 1.75 bottles so hard to find in San Antonio Texas?

    • Either the stores aren’t ordering them or the distributor isn’t sending them would be my guess.

  2. The bourbon you’re distilling is hands down the worst thing I’ve ever attempted to throw down. The thought alone of the grotesque liquid makes me want to hurl. You may as well be putting ipecac in the bottles you sell, and furthermore I believe a warning should be placed on every bottle in big bold letters stating that drinking this noxious concoction may cause severe internal bleeding and possible death. I pray that not another soul purchases this third rate bourbon. I hope your business goes under, all of your employees lose their jobs, and the person responsible for creating this terrible beverage acquires a debt so large that they have to take out a loan to piss.

    Sincerely, very pissed off customer on the verge of death (otherwise known as Joseph welhouse)

    • Someone sounds like a little @#$!.

    • joe wellhouse, outhouse, what an *$$&@$^

    • Look for what you are paying, it is the best by far. There are plenty of worse bourbons(Kentucky Gentleman, Old Crow) and many more. For a working class, blue collar drinker, or a poor college kid is what this is made for. Ancient Age isn’t made for a bourbon snob, it’s made for the roll up your sleeves get the job done worker and drinker.

    • Sounds like you are a little d**k, little joe!
      Ancient Age has quite a “following” among decent, hard-working, non-pretentious, joyful people.
      Obviously, NOT the drink for YOUUUUUUUUU!!

  3. I’m not going to go as deep as the last guy, it’s bad by certain standards, I agree, but let’s just condemn the product. I love to drink and enjoy a decent pour even if it’s coming from the bottom shelf but this pour I would say wasn’t my best buy to date. My first whiff I could smell the odor of nail polish remover, I have read several reviews in description to this smell coming from other bourbons but I had yet to experience it until now. After my first and second sip, it was hard convincing myself that it was going to get better as time went on with it. I was looking for an additional economical everyday sipper but this is not the one. This is by no means an everyday sipper but I will add; this will not find its way down the drain. It’s good enough for a mixer and I’m a true believe in everything is mixable among cheap and not so hard core drinking friends, choose your targets wisely.

  4. Well, I decided to pick this one up because it says that it is distilled and aged by Buffalo Trace Distillery. I have thoroughly enjoyed Blantons, Old Weller, Sazarac, etc from the distillery. I thought…it’s gotta be at least ok. The initial review gave it a C-…perhaps a little generous.

    Definitely better than Ten High, but that does not say much. I was hoping for something mildly enjoyable, but found no richness or depth. Yes…I did get the fingernail polish remover smell.

    I struggled to overcome any real character and felt that this was maybe only 8 months removed from its form of white dog.

    While many will mix, I prefer bourbon either neat or on the rocks depending on my mood. This is neither so my sink enjoyed the rest.

  5. I’ve had better, I’ve had worse. Frankly, at this price point you’re not looking for a nice, evening sipper; through a rock in it and drink it with a beer after a rough day at work.

  6. Dungeon shoemaker

    Provided The heartiest hangover ever, absolute dog shit. A flamboyant gag with every sip. But then again of your in a pinch and want some bourbon.

  7. Here in New England, particularly my state, Ancient Age is sort of hard to come by and when I see it I grab up a bottle. Not because I love it, but because it’s dirt cheap and palatable.

    If you’re drinking this straight, as a sipper, you’re doing it wrong.

    This stuff is just the best of the bottom shelf, so use it as a cheap mixer and you’ll hardly notice. It lacks complexity and its hot, but in a whiskey sour you won’t notice. Right now I’m sipping an old fashioned made with Ancient Age and loving it.

  8. Marvelous, rich, sumptuous bourbon at an incredible price. This is the way bourbon was meant to be made. I’ve tried them all, and this one for the price simply can’t be beat. Honest, classic, delicious bourbon. I’ve tried bourbons at three times the price that don’t measure up to this. Don’t waste your money. Add a couple of cubes of ice to a shot in an old fashioned glass and enjoy yourselves!

  9. It’s not a great bourbon served neat, or even on the rocks, but as a mixer this can’t be beat. It’s getting harder to find due to the popularity of Buffalo Trace, as this is the same whiskey they hold to bottle as Trace.

  10. As a. Mixer I would like to see the haters responces. Why would anyone be serously discussing this as a neat or rocks preference vs other options? Haters gonna every opp they got to hate wha ever da site/blogzz

  11. I AGREE with Kris Long. This stuff is PRETTY DAMN GOOD at this price point. And this is coming from someone who’s benchmark is Four Roses Single barrel. Look for the good in this. It’s THERE!

  12. Picked up a 375 ml on my last camping trip because it was the only thing in the store that came in a plastic bottle (I don’t like packing glass). I usually drink Bulleit or Wild Turkey 81 so this was a step down but, sheez, for under $4 for a pint, I enjoyed every swig around the campfire, straight from the plastic bottle!

    • Now that sounds like some solid open sky drinking! It brings back memories too. We used to take the cheaper bourbons in pocket-sized bottles into the backcountry and put the bottle into a stream, wedged into some rocks, to cool it down for drinking later.

  13. This one has a gold Listerine’ish Eucalyptus menthol finish that ruins anything you try to mix it with. For the same money, you can get Benchmark or Heaven Hills Old Style 80 proof and have a much better pour.

  14. It’s whiskey. It’s the kind of bourbon men, with grease up to their elbows, drink with a beer after they just saved 500 bucks fixing their own car. I have tasted alot worse

  15. Yeah it’s not the best, definitely not the worst. I drink this every now and then because its what my Dad drank. It has nostalgia for me. He was special forces in Vietnam, came home worked hard for what he had and took care of his family. This isn’t for snobs or guys who can’t change a tire, this is for everyday people. It’s for men, battle-hardened from everyday life or kicking ass defending your right to bitch about bourbon.

    • Great statements Ryan. I, like you, trued anchient because my Dad drank it. I think it is great with seven or Coke, and not made to drink neat or on the rocks. Much better than Jessy James. And that is not a stretch.

  16. It’s a good reliable cheap drunk, and its initials are AA, which is kind of funny, if you appreciate dark humor. And the more of this swill you can quaff down, the more you appreciate dark humor.

    • This guys comment is the best, I love the humor and you just made me appreciate this whiskey more. Yeah bourbon snobs is it the best? No. That’s not what it’s trying to be… As a bartender this is easily the best “well whiskey” and like most people have stated it’s not meant to be savored. This is a working mans whiskey who just wants to feel the punch without the burn. It is no doubt the smoothest bottom shelf whiskey, but it is not a sipping mans whiskey. If you’re just trying to drown your sorrows with whiskey then this is your bourbon, but if you’re looking for a sleeper of a whiskey like old grandad BIB this isn’t your bag. This is the whiskey that makes your favorites, but it’s young and immature so take it for what it is… liquid happiness, nothing more nothing less. Enjoy it and just know you’re gonna make it through whatever is troubling you.

  17. Don’t be fooled by snobbery. This is just fine for every day sipping/mixing. I describe it as a younger, sweeter Beam, and actually prefer it to Beam, straight. I’ve enjoyed bourbon since I was old enough to sneak it. I’ve had incredible bourbons, both pricey and cheap. Try a blind taste test. This Thanksgiving, this came in second place against 7 other bourbons, ranging in price from $15 to $80 a liter. The winner was under $30. Try the same thing with $5 and $35 wines, you’ll be surprised. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I enjoy 15-20 year scotches that run $60-$100+/liter, but I don’t need to drink $40+/liter “popular” bourbons everyday to make myself feel like a winner. This suits me just fine. “Better some, than none….”

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