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It was back near the beginning of the year that I conceived of the idea to honor the NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament by having a bracket-style taste-off of cheap bourbons with the twin goals of a) finding a diamond in the rough and b) getting a series of blog posts with minimal output of dollars.

I like dollars and prefer to keep them for myself, which was sort of the basis of both goals.

During that time, I realized that while I found no real diamonds, I did find a really small sapphire and more than one really nice cubic zirconia that smelled and tasted almost…like…the real thing…

I think I lost track of my metaphor there somewhere. Any way, I found a couple of really good values that I would be happy to have on the shelf at any time. One of which was Ezra Brooks. A decent bourbon, not top shelf, but a good mixer and an ok sipper in a pinch.

Fast forward to about a month ago. As I left my latest dentist appointment, I decided that it would be a mighty fine idea to stop into the liquor store that is just down the street. I wasn’t looking for anything in particular, I was just trying to wait for the traffic (and the numbness in my face) to subside. As I was wandering around, I noticed a bottle that I hadn’t seen before. Old Ezra 7 year, 101 proof. I’d heard of it while I was doing my research for the Ezra Brooks bracket. A lot of people seemed to like it. And as I hadn’t seen it in Minnesota previously, I picked it up.

Old Ezra, Aged 7 Years, 101 proof

Purchase info: $15.99 for a 750mL @ The Cellars Wine & Spirits, Eagan, MN

Details: 7 years old, 50.5% ABV

Nose: Soapy citrus, clove and cinnamon. Transitions to pear and an earthy buckwheat honey

Mouth: Classic Bourbon notes (caramel, vanilla, honey, spice) along with pear and, strangely, bubblegum

Finish: Bubblegum (specifically the slightly cardboard tasting stuff that came in baseball card packs when I was a kid) along with lingering allspice and honey.

Thoughts: This is not a $30 bourbon, but for $16 this is a fantastic value and will have a place on my shelf for as long as the price is right. Good for cocktails, infusing and even more than it’s black label (and lower proof) sibling, it’ll work neat for those situations where you don’t feel like analyzing your whiskey.