Ezra Brooks 99

Posted 20 October 2021 by Matt / In Lux Row
The Dramble reviews Ezra Brooks 99

Bottle Name: Ezra Brooks 99

ABV: 49.5%
Distillery: Lux Row
Region: USA

Launched in January of this year in the US, Erza Brooks 99 can be seen as something of an auxiliary for the Old Ezra 101 7 year old which was discontinued in 2018. Whilst nowadays 100+ proof whiskies are a common sight; it was not all that long ago that they were much fewer and farer between. As such, established players in the whiskey market recognise that not having a higher strength bottling in your range’s line-up is a sure-fire way to stunt the wider interest in your brand.

However, whilst in the US, Ezra Brooks 99 (49.5% ABV is close enough) scratches that itch for the mere cost of $20 a bottle (where is it marketed as “competitively priced”) – here in the UK the price is listed as closer to £35. Ouch.

Of course, import duty, and the costs of physically importing something are both ‘things’. But at that price, Ezra Brooks 99 is pitched directly against a fair number of well-regarded 100 proof bourbons – Knob Creek 9 year and Small Batch and Wild Turkey 101 all spring to mind. So, less competitively priced and more directly competing.

The bourbon itself is NAS and is sourced liquid – noted online as likely being 4+ years old taken from Heaven Hill stocks. Interestingly and somewhat unusually for a Kentucky whiskey, the use of charcoal filtering has been employed here. That is a point of difference. The mashbill is 78% corn, 10% rye, 12% malted barley, and I’m guessing that the expression will be releasing in the UK shortly.

Nose: Distinctive stone fruits – peach halves and apricot pie alongside vanilla buttercream, crunchy caramel and fresh, golden corn. In the background a peanut like quality sits alongside a leafy ‘greenness’ – not quite grass, more a youthful venousness. The addition of water presents orange bitters alongside shaved oak, butterscotch and whipped cream – I.E. more American oak.

Taste: The arrival offers caramel first – then a combination of sweet grains alongside souring oak. Maple syrup and biscuit crumb sit with sour cherries and cocoa powder, whilst nutmeg and cinnamon spices are tempered by vanilla nougat. Reduction reveals a more spice-forward palate – both sweet and drying – alongside mixed nuts – walnut and almond.

Finish: Medium in length with dry wood spice, and a clean citrus lift.

Ezra Brooks 99 offers a consistency throughout and with a welcome higher strength for impact. However, it lacks the depth and broadness of other 100 proof whiskies that I would describe as ‘sippers’. At $20 there would be no problems at all mixing this to your heart’s content – and it does indeed stand up well in both an old fashioned and a whiskey sour. But at double that price - £35 – whilst the profile remains accessible, the cost of entry is notably steeper. I can’t help but feel that Lux Row should have undercut the 100 proof market with this, rather than attempted to contend it at the same price point.

Review sample provided by Chapman Poole

Score: 78/100

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