What does a $10,000 bottle of bourbon taste like? We got to find out for ourselves.

The bottle

Eagle Rare 25 bourbon, $10,000

The back story

Yes, you read that right: This is a bottle of bourbon that costs…Ten. Thousand. Dollars.

But it’s probably a bargain if you can find it at that price. 

That’s because it’s an extremely rare bourbon, with just 200 bottles being released. And it comes from Buffalo Trace, the prominent Kentucky distillery that’s also behind the much-in-demand Pappy Van Winkle brand.

It’s also a bourbon with quite a back story. Aging Kentucky-made bourbon beyond a certain number of years is considered fairly controversial because the spirit can easily acquire a less-than-pleasant taste from sitting in the barrel too long. Some say 15 years is pushing it. Others question going beyond a decade. Or as Jane Bowie, a former director of innovation for the Maker’s Mark brand, once observed: “After about eight years, bourbon gets too woody.” (Others describe older bourbons as astringent and dry.)

So, how is Buffalo Trace able to go to 25? It all has to do with a $20 million-plus program the distillery has developed — namely, a new state-of-the-art warehouse dubbed Warehouse P.

According to Buffalo Trace, it was “constructed to test if it was possible to extend favorably both the aging and maturation processes typical for American whiskey and bourbon.” The distillery doesn’t get into too many details about what’s going on inside Warehouse P, but obviously factors like temperature and humidity are critical to aging. (The reason Scotch can be aged longer than Kentucky bourbon is because of Scotland’s considerably cooler climate.)

Regarding the pricing of this Eagle Rare, the folks at Buffalo Trace can’t officially set what retailers charge, so $10,000 is just a suggested figure. Certainly, bottles of Pappy — and other highly prized whiskies — are known to sell for much more than the suggested price. And these whiskies often become far more valuable over time, thanks to a growing collector market. For example, a bottle of Pappy released in 2008 sold for $52,000 at auction last year.

What we think about it

Yes, I was lucky enough to try a very small sip of this rarest of Eagle Rares at a recent press event in New York City. It’s indeed a delicious and delicate whiskey, with notes of butterscotch and pepper. (The Buffalo Trace team says you should also pick up vanilla and dark fruit.) And while I’ve had older bourbons that have had that tell-tale woodiness, that’s not the case here.

But is it worth $10,000 (or even more)? Obviously, if you can afford this whiskey, it’s probably not a question of price. But for the rest of us, you’re fine sticking with the entry-level Eagle Rare — a tasty 10-year-old bourbon that can easily be found for under $75.

How to enjoy it

No, you’re not going to make an Old Fashioned or a Mint Julep with a $10,000 bourbon. But we did find adding a drop or two of water to it can enhance the flavor.

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