A historic brand connected to two prestigious Kentucky distilling families, the Ezra Brooks was a NDP brand created by a marketing team in response to the popularity and subsequent scarcity of Jack Daniel’s in the late 50s/early 60s. Released in a square bottle bearing their claim to using a sour mash process and to have been charcoal filtered, it wasn’t long before Brown Forman sued then owners “21” Brands Inc. for trademark infringement. 21 Brands won the case and Ezra Brooks continued to be produced by the Hoffman Distilling Co. Which was owned by Robert, Ben, and William Ripy.

In 1979, The Medley Distilling Company acquired “21” Brands and moved production of Ezra Brooks over to Owensboro, KY.
In further keeping with the Old No. 7 theme, they put the fact that they were in the 7th generation of distilling on the label so that number 7 was alson added. The Medley Distillery was later acquired in 1988 by Glenmore Distilleries and Ezra Brooks quickly became one of their flagship brands along with other historic brands Yellowstone, and Kentucky Tavern.  In 1991, United Distillers acquired Glenmore Distilleries and the brand fell into the abyss of their huge bourbon portfolio at the time. In 1992, United Distillers sold many of their brands to Heaven Hill, including Ezra Brooks and Heaven Hill in turn sold the brand to the David Sherman Co. from St. Louis, MO. Here Ezra Brooks found a long-term home and Heaven Hill agreed to supply the now renamed Luxco with barrels to support the brand. However as the sales of bourbon continued to skyrocket this arrangement became more difficult to maintain.

In January 2018, Luxco started operations in their state-of-the-art Lux Row Distillers distillery. Located on a 90-acre site, the facility boasts a 18,000 square feet distillery building, 6 barrel warehouses, a tasting room, an event space, and will eventually have the capacity to produce over 7 million proof gallons a year and store 20,000 to 50,000 barrels on site. Under the watchful eye of Head Distiller John Rempe, it is envisioned that this facility will become the source for Luxco’s extensive brand portfolio as demand for their products continued to grow. Although still a sourced product from distilleries like Heaven Hill, Luxco currently produces four whiskies under the Ezra Brooks brand including an 90 proof KY straight bourbon, a 90 proof straight rye whiskey, a 7 year old ‘Old Ezra’ barrel proof KY straight bourbon, and an 80 proof KY blended whiskey.

Launched in January 2017, Ezra Brooks Rye whiskey is a straight rye whiskey sourced from MGP Indiana and released in response to the global surge in demand for rye whiskies. It features MGP’s lesser-seen 51% rye recipe, is charcoal filtered, and is aged a minimum of 2 years. Unlike its bourbon counterpart which launched in the UK with a reduction in proof this is bottled at the original 90 proof (45%).

Vital Stats:

Name: Ezra Brooks Straight Rye Whiskey
Age: NAS – Minimum 2 y.o. to be designated straight.
Proof: 90 Proof (45% ABV)
Type: Straight rye whiskey
Mashbill: 51% rye, 45% corn, 4% malted barley
Producer: Undisclosed (assumed to be MGP Indiana)
Website: https://ezrabrooks.com/whiskey/straight-rye-whiskey/
Glassware: Glencairn

Review

Nose: The nose opens with young corn-heavy caramel and thick vanilla bordering on herbaceous, before earthy rye, baking spices, faint red fruit, char smoke, and tannic oak emerge.

Palate: The palate opens with thick corn viscosity that spreads over the tongue, temporarily blocking the flavours from coming through. However, as it continues to roll across the tongue, a herbaceous and almost nutty note starts to develop and leads into a wave of spice that cuts through the viscosity, bringing citrussy notes and fading towards bitter charred oak notes with a touch of licorice and smokiness that develops the longer you chew on it.

Finish: The finish opens with lingering white pepper spice, herbaceous notes, and dark charred oak notes which persist into the aftertaste.

Overall 

As far as young (presumably 2y.o.) Kentucky-style rye whiskies that are aged in standard barrels go, this one is quite decent. The nose, palate, and finish are packed full of vibrant grain and barrel notes which are complemented by an oily mouth feel that carries all the flavours to where they need to go. I drank this side by side with a 95/5 rye whiskey also sourced from Indiana which would be of a similar enough age and found the corn influence in the Ezra brooks makes a massive difference in the drinking experience. Whereas the high-rye mashbill is sharp in its spice and it flavours, the added corn in the Ezra Brooks rye tames this and allows more nuanced earthy and peppery flavours to develop instead. Although the corn makes this thick and silky on the palate you can’t forget that you’re drinking a rye whiskey and this has the added benefit of having less aggressive spice than whiskies made with the 95/5 recipe. This viscosity and the barrel-influence that comes out as you chew not only makes it good for sipping neat but would no doubt also come through very nicely in a rye-based cocktail.

Try or Buy?

This can be picked up in the US at around the $20 mark and in the UK for about £30 – it’s worth a punt at either price.

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Before you go…

Before you go…

Before you go…

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