By April Manning
Ezra Brooks has changed hands many times in its history with it first being produced in the 1950s by the Medley Distillery, which was first established in Owensboro, Kentucky in 1901 and is now Terressentia’s O.Z. Tyler Distillery. After being bought and sold several times it landed in the hands of the David Sherman Corporation (DSC) of St. Louis, Missouri in 1993. DSC later became Luxco, Inc.
Ezra Brooks is an authentic 90 proof sour mash, meaning it uses the prior batches yeast to ferment the new batch in a never ending procession. The spirit produced is then aged in new charred white oak barrels. It is charcoal-filtered to try for a mellower flavor, what Jack Daniel’s refers to as “charcoal mellowing.” The difference is that Jack Daniel’s filters through sugar maple charcoal before aging, a procedure known as the Lincoln County Process that serves as the legal basis for Tennessee Whiskey. Ezra Brooks is filtered through minimal amounts of charcoal (not necessarily sugar maple charcoal at that) after aging.
Ezra Brooks has a deceptively pleasing color of a pale amber tint and a fairly mild nose. This is where the pleasantness ends and the distastefulness begins. The taste is more astringent than sweet with a hint of the sour mash coming out hard at the end. The charcoal, which did not mellow out this bourbon, hits first with an instant burn that finishes lightly on the tongue but continues to be caustic the whole way down to the belly and stays that way through the next day.
Since there is no age statement to be found on the bottle I can only assume they put it in the barrel, shook it up and poured it right back out.
It was found that if one allows it to just sit on the front tip of the tongue (i.e. if you don’t actually drink it) you can discover the sweet citrus undertones lying there. However, during normal tasting actions (i.e. actually drinking it) these flavors are held back by the dominant sour burn.
Contrary to the label this is not a whiskey to be savored – this is one to get through quickly and never look back. The label also claims it is for those with a rugged spirit…I say it’s more for those with a rugged palate.
Ezra Brooks may not be the bottom of the barrel, so to speak, but it is keeping a spot warm for whoever is!
$15-18. Remember, you get what you pay for!