McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon is Buffalo Trace’s most basic entry in to the bourbon category and is the equivalent of Henry Mckenna at Heaven Hill or Jim Beam White. It’s a bargain bourbon, a workhorse that delivers big value, but not a whole lot of depth and complexity. But it’s not supposed to, that’s not its purpose on this planet.
This is what I call a “kick-around” whiskey. Something to drink when you’re cleaning the house, doing laundry, dishes, etc. McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon is perfect for those times when your only drinking requirement is to have something “not bad” in your glass.
In Buffalo Trace’s Words: Benchmark Bourbon
“Named after the McAfee brothers who surveyed a site just north of Frankfort in the late 1700s, this rye recipe bourbon is yet another label that honors the storied history of the Distillery and the land it sits on.
The nose bears caramel notes with a delicate stone-fruit backdrop. A robust and sturdy palate with some fine leather notes mingling with dry tobacco, a touch of oak and a hint of dried cherries. The finish is smooth and calming.”
Another bit of trivia about this brand is that before 1992 it went by the name of Benchmark Bourbon and used to be made at Four Roses back when Seagram owned them. Seagrams sold Four Roses to Kirin in 2002 so the sale of Benchmark to Sazerac predates that by a decade. After the 1992 sale of Benchmark the name was changed to McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon in honor of the above mentioned McAfee brothers.
Now on to the McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon and see how my notes compare to the distillery’s!
McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon Info
Region: Kentucky, USA
Distiller: Buffalo Trace
Mashbill: Corn, Rye (10% or less), Malted Barley
Cask: New charred oak
Price: $15 (1 Liter)
McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon Review
Candy corn, butterscotch, toasted grains, vanilla, corn and light bits of tart caramel apples, nuts and a creamy acidic nature like sour cream. I’ve definitely smelled worse, but it’s not bad for what it is.
Candy corn, caramel corn, vanilla, nuts, grain and a touch of oak and spice. The palate is more muted than the aroma, but there’s nothing offensive going on so there’s nothing to get too worked up about.
Short drop of nuts, oak, vanilla and spice.
BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Not fully balanced, thin body and a light watery feel.
The aroma of the McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon is a bit more dynamic than the flavor and presents a more interesting experience, but it doesn’t manage to captivate me. It also doesn’t turn me off either. It’s perfectly drinkable and inoffensive, but not daring or interesting either; for my money I’d rather pick up the regular Buffalo Trace or even the Four Roses Yellow.
McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon is definitely my least favorite regular release from Buffalo Trace. My all-time least favorite BT release was the rice bourbon, but that was a special edition experiment and is among the worst whiskeys I’ve ever had. Thankfully the McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon is nothing like it and that’s something we can all be happy about.
SCORE: 79/100 (C+)
McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon Review - Score Breakdown
- Nose - 78
- Palate - 78
- Finish - 78
- Balance, Body & Feel - 78
McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon is ok. Nothing special, but a sold workhorse whiskey.