Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace are both top-quality whiskeys that are distilled and distributed by the same distillery, yet they each have their own respective, distinct flavor.
Eagle Rare is made using corn and rye grains and aged a minimum of 10 years in American white oak. Buffalo Trace is made with wheat, barley, rye, and other grains.
As such, there are numerous differences when looking at Eagle Rare vs Buffalo Trace, but at the same time, similarities that are more than just skin-deep.
Eagle Rare or Buffalo Trace?
There’s no doubt that these whiskeys are good in quality. The never-ending lists of rewards and accolades each of them, and even their distillery, occupies, speak for themselves.
Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace are both bourbons that are produced by the Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky, but is that where their similarities end? We pegged the two up against each other to see if we can find out. Read on for everything you need to know when it comes to Eagle Rare vs Buffalo Trace.
The most apparent difference between the two is that the original Eagle Rare is aged for ten years, while Buffalo Trace doesn’t have an official age statement. All indicators point to being aged in the region of seven to nine years, but no one outside of the distillery knows for sure.
In aroma, taste, and finish, the whiskeys differ somewhat. Eagle Rare can is citrusy, sweet, and subtle on the nose while being simple in taste with a finish that is sweet and of medium length. It’s budget-friendly and gives the drinker a lot of value.
Buffalo Trace on the other hand is also sweet on the nose with underlying mint and oak, the taste is also sweet, though with a little more complexity in its richness with a finish that isn’t overly sweet with a hint of spice.
How are Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace made?
Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare not only share the same distillery, but they share the same bourbon mash bill (essentially the recipe of grain ingredients used). The specific mash bill used for both bourbons is often referred to as “Mash #1,”.
While the holding company, Sazerac, doesn’t disclose the exact recipe or grain percentage, we do know what the key ingredients this mash bill consists of. It’s the so-called “Yellow Dent Grade #1” corn, a small quantity of rye, and a little malted barley to get the enzymes.
The actual production comprises of a hammer mill that grinds the grains into the right size to go into the cookers. The corn is cooked at high heat in a pressure cooker, while the rye and malted barley are cooked separately at 160°F (71°C), and 155°F (68°C) respectively.
The cooked grains are then cooled with a vacuum system and pumped into twelve 92,000-gallon fermentors. Fermentation takes between three and five days, and the “distiller’s beer” (the “beer” all whiskeys start out as) is then double distilled.
Lastly, the respective spirits are ready to be aged for their respective periods in new charred American oak barrels.
Price, Size, Color, Alcohol Percentages
There is a notable difference in the pricing of the two bourbons in their standard variations, with Eagle Rare being the pricier of the two. Furthermore, the special editions are well sought-after in the bourbon world so you can expect to fork out even more if you’d like to acquire these.
Here are the average prices you can expect to pay:
750ml From $49,99
1.75L From $75,79
Both bourbons are produced at the same distillery, Buffalo Trace Distillery in Kentucky, USA. The color of Eagle Rare is described as a medium rusty, dirty, orange. Buffalo Trace’s color is noted as a rich mahogany-hued golden brown. Proof in both bourbons is 90.
Buffalo Trace serves as the distillery’s flagship bourbon and is the sole variation in its line. Eagle Rare on the other hand comes in a variety of even more aged variations and special editions alongside the Eagle Rare 10-Year offering.
Eagle Rare 17 Year forms part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection and is released in small quantities only once a year in the fall. A whiskey this aged doesn’t come cheap and you could expect to pay from $2000 upwards – if you can find it.
An even more prized variation is the Eagle Rare ‘Double Eagle Very Rare’ 20-Year-Old bourbon. As the name suggests, it’s aged for double the amount of time the original is. This bourbon is extremely limited and as rare as an eagle sighting, which is why you can expect to pay in the region of $15000 when you do.
How to drink Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace.
Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace are whiskeys known for their unique flavor. When drinking these bourbons, it is important to pay attention to the tastes and aromas to fully enjoy them. There are standard yet different ways to drink Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace, to enjoy the different aspects.
One way to have them is on the rocks. Tumbler, with ice, with the bourbon, poured over it. This is recommended if you find the tastes overwhelming, as the ice will help to mellow out the flavor of the whiskey and make it more enjoyable to drink.
Another way to drink Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace is neat. That’s the same as before, minus the ice. This will naturally have more intense flavors, but some people, especially connoisseurs, are adamant that it’s the only way to be enjoyed properly. We say each to their own.
Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace can also be enjoyed with straight mixtures, such as water, ginger ale, or club soda if you’re looking for a way to quench your thirst, while still enjoying the unique tastes.
Of course, you can also mix both bourbons with a variety of other drinks in cocktails, as whiskeys go. But seeing as they lean more towards being upscale bourbons, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend “spoiling” them in this way and would suggest the aforementioned methods.
Eagle Rare and Buffalo Trace are both great whiskeys, or bourbons, for their price but it’s not the only good ones out there. And while they’re adequate replacements for each other, they’re both highly sought-after and often renowned for being hard to come by.
Luckily, there is no shortage of good bourbons distilled in the good old United States and you wouldn’t need to look further than the very same distillery to find a worthy substitute. Of course, there are distilleries worth having a look at, too.
Loved equally by the experts and beginners alike, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrel is a certifiable flavor bourbon in its own right. It’s both mature and assertive and is also a 10-year bourbon, making it a decent alternative to Eagle Rare, specifically.
Four Roses Small Batch is a decent alternative to Buffalo Trace. It’s the same proof as Buffalo Trace and falls in the same price range. If you can’t find Buffalo Trace but want a bourbon that possesses a similar drinking profile, price, and age, go for Small Batch.
E.H. Taylor Jr. Single Barrel is a line of bourbon that is also a member of the Buffalo Trace Distillery’s famed Mashbill #1, so you can expect a lot of similarities. Though aged for less, its flavor potential is levels higher than standard Buffalo Trace whiskey. But on the downside, it, too, can be hard to find.
Eagle Rare vs Buffalo Trace FAQ
Which came first, Eagle Rare or Buffalo Trace?
Eagle Rare was founded in 1975 while Buffalo Trace was first produced in 1999. In 1989, Eagle Rare was acquired by the company that also owns Buffalo Trace today, Sazerac.
Which bourbon is stronger?
Both bourbons are 90 proof which means they’re equal in strength.
Is Buffalo Trace and Eagle Rare the same thing?
Even though they’re produced in the same distillery, the two bourbons are not the same thing. The main difference is that Eagle Rare is at least 10 years old, while Buffalo Trace does not have an age statement.
Is Eagle Rare Still a Single Barrel?
No. Eagle Rare went through a label design change which moved the 10-year age statement from the bottleneck to the back of the bottle. They also removed the single barrel statement from the bottle altogether, later on.
Should you put bourbon in the freezer?
No. While keeping any spirit in the freezer won’t harm it, it will dull the flavors. Bourbon is best enjoyed at room temperature.