McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon Review

McAfee’s Benchmark Old No 8 Bourbon Review

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
Age: NAS
ABV: 40%

Price: $15 (1 Liter)

McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon Review

Light caramel

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.

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.

McAfee’s Benchmark Old No 8 Bourbon Label

Josh Peters

Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters

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12 Responses to McAfee’s Benchmark Old No. 8 Bourbon Review

  1. This was my standard go-to mixing and highball whiskey for a long time, as well as being the first bottom shelfer that I enjoyed neat or on the rocks. It is a very good pour for the money. Goes for about $12 a 750 here, but since discovering Evan Williams BIB, I usually just kick in a couple extra bucks for that.

  2. I enjoy Benchmark as my daily drink. Like I have a daily cigar. I can’t afford top shelf of either for everyday, so I go with cheap but, enjoyable. I won’t drink or smoke something unless I actually like it. I mean, what would be the point in that? And in the bottom shelf category of bourbon, Benchmark has become my favorite. Only problem I have is once or twice a year it seems the 2 liquor stores I regularly go to have trouble keeping it on the shelf for 2 or 3 weeks.

    • Cheers Dano O, thanks for sharing. For a cheap daily drinker it’s a decent one. Mine is WT101 ($22 – $24 a bottle here) as I can’t afford the expensive stuff for daily consumption either 🙂

  3. Best inexpensive bourbon. I expected rot gut whisky. Honestly has a really nice flavor and aroma! Beats the hell out of Fireball!

  4. This gives Old Crow a run for it’s money.
    Nice campfire whiskey, if you you’re short on change.
    Better than most American blended whiskies.
    Exception: Triple Crown from McCormick Weston, MO. But it’s $16 and you can get Evan Williams and Olf Forester for the same price.

  5. Ugh!! This bourbon is a fraud. Something people want to like because it’s cheap and not rotgut. For a couple of dollars more you can do much better. To each his own of course but I feel pretty strongly about this. Cheers!!

  6. I’ve been thru most of the bottom shelf bourbons. The best was Heaven Hill green label 6-y/o at $9/750ml, but this year they reduced it to 80*, and removed the age statement. Result – sux.
    Generally, for $10 bourbon, I’ll buy and enjoy Early Times, Old Crow, and Benchmark.
    Maybe that because I also like Old Forester, Buffalo Trace, but strangely have not yet found a Beam line worth its price other than the Old Crow :::shrug:::

    • Never got to try the Green HH (new or old) since it’s not a West Coast thing, but I’ve heard nothing but good thins about the old 6 year. Though in that vein I really enjoy the HH BiB. Solid stuff at a low price. Cheers!

  7. Right in there with Old Crow, Heaven Hill & Evan Williams ($1 less than EW today for a fifth).
    Great daily happiness with a bit of sweet vermouth & a splash of ginger ale (or orange dry).
    Cheers to my fellow Bottom Dwellers!

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