Ezra Brooks is a fairly popular name in the world of bourbon. It’s not Jack Daniel’s, Woodford, Jim Beam, or any of the other big names, but it’s still well known. Personally, I’ve seen Ezra Brooks 99 Proof Bourbon 1000 times on liquor shelves, and I’ve glanced over it without a second thought 999 times. It wasn’t until passing by a 50ml bottle that I asked myself why I hadn’t ever had it before. Spending a dollar on a little shooter seemed like a fine compromise.
We’re going to cover a bit of history behind Ezra Brooks before jumping into an in depth review on what Ezra Brooks Bourbon is and whether or not it’s any good.
Ezra Brooks Bourbon History
Ezra Brooks was first created back in 1957 by Frank Silverman. The whiskey was a product of Hoffman Distilling of Lawrenceburg, KY, but went out of business in the 70’s.
In 1993, Luxco – though at the time named the David Sherman Company – purchased the Ezra Brooks brand.
Originally, Ezra Brooks produced a 90 proof bourbon and a 101 proof bourbon, but they’ve recently made some changes to their line-up. Ezra Brooks 101 was replaced by their Old Ezra Barrel Strength, and their standard 90 proof bourbon was discontinued in 2023, just a couple of months ago. Now, Ezra Brooks 99 Proof Bourbon is their standard expression.
Ezra Brooks 99 Proof Bourbon Overview
- Spirit: Kentucky Straight Bourbon
- Owned By: Luxco (which is owned by MGP)
- Distilled By: Sourced from Kentucky distillery (thought to be Heaven Hill)
- Aged: NAS, 4+ years. Charcoal Mellowed.
- ABV: 49.5%, 99 proof
- Mashbill: Thought to be Heaven Hill’s 78% corn, 12% rye, 10% malted barley
- Price: $25
A quick google search will tell you that Ezra Brooks is distilled at the Lux Row Distillery. Even going to Ezra Brooks’ website will lead you to the same conclusion. From their ‘distillery’ tab speaking about Lux Row Distillery: “the distillery boasts….. a 43-foot custom copper still for Ezra Brooks”.
However, that’s not the case. If you buy a bottle of Ezra Brooks, you’ll be able to see that the label says “Bottled for Lux Row Distillers” – AKA not distilled by and bottled by Lux Row. Now, is Ezra Brooks currently being distilled at Lux Row Distillers and we’re simply waiting for their whiskey to age…? Maybe. But if you buy a bottle of Ezra Brooks right now, it’ll likely be from Heaven Hill.
At 99 proof, Ezra Brooks sits right in the wheelhouse of where a lot of whiskey drinkers like – stronger than your typical 80 proof, but not kick your a** strong.
Ezra Brooks 99 Proof Bourbon Price
Ezra Brooks 99 Proof sits right around the $25 mark, but you may be able to find it for as low as $20 at large retailers such as Total Wine. The price point is a big allure here, but many people may find it more expensive than it needs to be. Part of this is with the discontinuation of Ezra Brooks 90 Proof which was available for less than $20.
Ezra Brooks is charcoal mellowed before bottled – not to be confused with the Lincoln County Process which occurs after distillation. Jack Daniels Gentleman Jack is an example of whiskey that undergoes the Lincoln County Process and a second charcoal filtering before bottling.
Ezra Brooks 99 Proof Bourbon Tasting Notes
Alright, now that we’ve covered the basics, let’s get into the important stuff. Is Ezra Brooks 99 good? Is it worth buying? What does it taste like? Time to pour myself a dram and get to it!
Nose: Vanilla and oak are strongest, some dark fruits and nuts come to play as well.. After sitting for a minute, brown sugar appears. A little bit of hay and rye spice adds a seemingly green/vegetal spice to it. A fairly light nose with an alcohol kick if you get in too close.
Palate: A little sharp at first, but rounds out. Vanilla and caramel with lots of spice kicking in. There’s a slight dusty and nutty quality mixed in with a lot of pepper and hay – same thing here for me as the nose, a seemingly green quality to it.
Finish: Oak makes a big comeback here with some of the brown sugar. Creamy vanilla coats the mouth with that drying oak. A touch of spice and nuts sits around. Medium length.
There are a lot of similarities here with other Heaven Hill whiskeys. The classic Heaven Hill peanut note is here, but not quite as strong as it is with Elijah Craig. Perhaps the charcoal mellowing took away some of that flavor.
The nose is very light but also fairly round. If you get in too close, you’ll get a hit of that 99 proof with some thin ethanol.
That thinness transfers over to the palate with a sharp kick but only for the briefest moment. The spirit progressively becomes thicker, and the sharpness fades after a sip or two. A drying oak with some spice sits underneath a creamy vanilla for the finish.
Ultimately, I was pleased with Ezra Brooks 99 Proof Bourbon. Is it fantastic? No, but the value is there. For $25, it screams cocktail juice but holds its own neat or on the rocks, too.
Ezra Brooks doesn’t stand out, but that’s okay. It has it’s niche, and it fits in comfortably. If you’re looking for a budget, high proof bourbon to use in mixed drinks and cocktails, Ezra Brooks 99 Proof is one you should try. It may not end up being your favorite, but I don’t expect many people to hate it either.
I’m not one for rating whiskeys, you simply can’t rate a $25 whiskey and a $100 whiskey on the same scale. If I were, though, this would be a 3/5 – a middle of the pack bourbon that has value due to its higher proof and price point.