Ezra Brooks Bourbon Review – The Best of the Cheap.

Posted on July 28, 2011 | By TheEnabler | 39 Comments

“Economical!” wafted from the back.

The Best of the Cheap.


Since I have not yet won the lottery, and I do like to drink, and drink costs money and money equals time and at no time do I have enough money, ipso facto I therefore don’t have enough time.  Is time the fourth dimension?

Okay, kind of got lost there. My point was that I try to look for cheap bourbon that is reasonably decent. I had been told that Ezra Brooks bourbon was a good, cheap bourbon, but unfortunately it was not available in my portion of California. However, we went to visit the father-in-law and he gave us a hundred bucks and said that we had to spend it on booze (thank you thank you thank you). Coming through a rural area of Nor-Cal, we came upon a liquor store, a very nice one, in the middle of no-where.

I went in while the Palate minded the kids and looked around. As I was heading toward the bourbon area an older man who worked there went to the back of the store and started doing stuff on the shelves. Continuing on, I spotted Ezra Brooks bourbon at $9.00 a bottle, and I grabbed one.

Walking up to the front counter I started talking to the young guy at the register. “I have heard that this is a great cheap bourbon, but I haven’t had it before.” I said. “I am always on the look-out for cheap bourbon.” “A couple of people told me this was one of the best cheap bourbons I will….” “ECONOMICAL!” came the cry from the back. Apparently I had touched a nerve with the owner in the back. Chatting a bit more, I again said something about “do you have any other good, cheap bourbons that you know of?” “Economical!” came the cry.

I paid my money and said thanks for the cheap bourbon and walked out the door to the expected “Economical!”

The review: This is the best cheap (economical) bourbon I think I have had. I was, and am, a big fan of Old Grandad. This is better. This is a cheap bourbon that you can drink neat with just a splash of water to open it up. Fine on the rocks and quite decent for any mixed drink that you might make with bourbon. I will not insult your intelligence. If someone offered me a choice of this or any Pappy Van Winkle, I would take the Pappy. If you want a reasonably priced, decent bourbon to keep around for day to day use, though, this is it.

It is a sour mash whiskey, bottled at 90 proof. Made by Heaven Hill for Luxco to distribute. The color is a deep amber. The finish is a bit short but fairly smooth (a little bite, but not a ton like bourbons bottled at cask strength). The nose has a bit of corn and vanilla. It is somewhat sweet, which I like. There is a bit of brown sugar or maple sugar to it. It is charcoal filtered, which helps smooth and mellow the flavor but there is still a bit of pepper. I generally prefer wheater bourbons, whereas this is a rye, but still very good. I do not get the tobacco hint that I like in bourbons, but that does not kill the deal on a bourbon at this price.

To summarize, if you have a limited booze-budget, and who does not in this day and age, you cannot go wrong with keeping Ezra around for regular use. Just remember that if you are going to have it neat, just a splash of water to open it up.


39 Responses to “Ezra Brooks Bourbon Review – The Best of the Cheap.”

  1. Steve Butler
    August 3rd, 2011 @ 11:39 am

    How does this bourbon compare to Evan Williams Black Label? (Also made by Heaven Hill)

  2. TheEnabler
    August 4th, 2011 @ 11:14 am

    Here is my quick reply. I prefer Ezra Brooks to Evan Williams Black, although the Evan Williams is also a good purchase. I am pressed for time so I will put a more detailed response or post up a bit later.

  3. Scooter butte
    January 26th, 2012 @ 9:31 pm

    Why did you go from the cork to screw cap? Several friends and I have been drinking Ezra Brooks for at least 15 years now and none of us really buy it now. We have switched to Corner Creek because we like the cork. it was nice to get an inexpensive bottle of bourbon and have the cork too. I feel sad that 12 of us have chosen to switch because of a silly thing like a cork but it has happened.Hope someday soon the cork will return on Ezra.

  4. pat maloney
    August 5th, 2012 @ 5:09 pm

    great bourbon for the price i like it better than makers mark and jim beam think its silly to switch bourbons because of the lack of a cork?

  5. Don Bethune
    September 12th, 2012 @ 3:15 pm

    I’m a bourbon lover and have been drinking it for 20 years. While I love a great ‘top shelf’ as much as the next guy, Ezra is, has been, and always will be my ‘go-to’ brand. I like it better than everything in its price range, and most higher end stuff like Maker’s. Did a blind taste test with several of my friends, and everyone of us had it in our top 3 out of 8 brands sampled….which included the likes of JD, Elijah Craig (which is another fav), and Makers. Buy a bottle, you will not be disappointed.

  6. McQuaff
    November 3rd, 2012 @ 11:20 am

    Ezra Brooks became my favorite bourbon a few years back. On the sweet side, but not overly so. If I want dry whiskey I’ll go with rye (like Old Overholt, which I’m guessing is on your list as well). EB is right in the middle, rocks in a Mint Julep or Old Fashioned.

  7. McQuaff
    November 3rd, 2012 @ 11:21 am

    PS, who is your father in law? Is he looking to adopt?

  8. TheEnabler
    November 6th, 2012 @ 2:16 pm

    Oh, I am sure he might be up for adoption for the right “dowry” as it were.

  9. jim brooks
    November 15th, 2012 @ 1:19 pm

    i love your boubon its just as good as jd ; i put it in ajd bottle and they never notice

  10. MP533
    November 22nd, 2012 @ 6:52 pm

    Ezra has accompanied me on a few hundred miles of back country sojourns.
    EB has a caramel finish that I find most gratifying. As opposed to “jack” and it’s acrid pungency.
    I am a scotch drinker 98 percent of the time, but when I’m in the mountains and enjoying a campfire, Ezra’s the thing.

  11. samantha
    November 30th, 2012 @ 6:42 pm

    My husband and I have been loyal Ezra fans for at least 10+years. Recently we have had to give it up. It is with sadness that we have found the tast to have changed so dramaticly that we no longer keep it in the house as a staple. This evening my husband suprised me with a bottle of Ezra hoping it was just a few months of a bad run, but no its flavor is not back, I want my Ezra back.

  12. TheEnabler
    December 2nd, 2012 @ 1:29 pm

    That is interesting. When did you notice the change in the taste? Very recently? I would be curious and maybe could see if there was any identifiable reason.

  13. ty
    December 31st, 2012 @ 7:52 pm

    The Ezra Brooks black label is no longer 90 proof. It says “90” on the label, but the fine print at the bottom denotes 80 proof, same as the white label. This is where the flavor went, and thus the reason that I no longer purchase it unless I find an old dusty bottle in a remote liquor store that is 90 proof

  14. Mr. Daniel
    January 5th, 2013 @ 2:31 pm

    I grew up drinking JD….. My older brother turned me on to Ezra as he put it “JD’s cheap cousin”. Since that time I have tried Evan Williams as another “cousin” I love the Flavor and it’s kick! I drink it on the rocks or with just a splash of Coke.
    I miss the cork too:) I have not noticed the difference in taste?

  15. Too Young to Drink Alone
    January 10th, 2013 @ 9:19 am

    Scooter Butt, if you like corks, Bird Dog is a fairly new (flavoured) whiskey with a cork top; I actually found it such a pain to get off (and then back on) to the bottle, I used the whole 750 in a day. I don’t like fruit distilled with my whiskey, especially this brand, which seems to give off a slightly rancid odour, but it’s a nice, smooth whiskey with a cork, that’s extremely reasonable.

    As to the topic, I love Ezra Brooks. I find Rye too biting, so Ezra is a good, and extremely reasonable, go-between. I’m also a fan of Ezra Klein from The Washington Post, so…

  16. Ron Gilliland
    January 25th, 2013 @ 9:04 am

    On my 1st and last bottle of eb! Not good. Prefer eagle rare!

  17. TheEnabler
    January 25th, 2013 @ 10:43 am

    I totally agree. But you are comparing apples to bourbons. Eagle Rare is not a cheap bourbon. EB was reviewed as best of the cheap, not best of the moderate or expensive.

  18. Will
    January 25th, 2013 @ 11:24 am

    I have been drinking “economical” bourbons for the last year, and I have to say Ezra Brooks is a little bit pricier than I normally spend ($10-$12 vs $15 for the eb) and I have to say I’m digging the Ezra Brooks

  19. chondo2
    February 3rd, 2013 @ 4:10 pm

    This is a very nice bourbon for the price. From Luxco I usually buy Rebel Yell but when needing a change of pace I like Ezra Brooks.

  20. Simplemann
    February 5th, 2013 @ 6:44 pm

    I love EB so much that my dog (5 yr. old black lab, female) is named Ezra. Used to prefer “smoother” sippers like Makers, but as my taste buds have aged (worn out?) I look for a little bite. Wild Turkey 101 is a treat. Just checked my recently purchased fifth ($11.95) and it clearly says 45% alcohol.

  21. TheEnabler
    February 5th, 2013 @ 7:23 pm

    I am a Maker’s fan. Maker’s is a wheater and Wild Turkey I believe has a rye mashbill, so it appears that you indeed are heading for more bite as your tastebuds wear out. In my case I am getting wimpier in my old age and head toward the wheaters.

  22. chondo2
    February 7th, 2013 @ 12:45 pm

    Just tried my first bottle of Ezra Brooks. Very fine stuff for the price. Not currently my first choice but one to keep on hand in our bar.

  23. David h
    February 12th, 2013 @ 1:44 pm

    I love ezra brooks. Picked it up on a guess to keep my friends from drinking it. But the all loved it. Super good taste and perfect for having a good ol time

  24. edwardo
    February 14th, 2013 @ 7:28 pm

    been samplin bourbons for about 6 months this bourbon is fantastic of about 20 bourbons sampled top 5 for sure

  25. hobie
    February 20th, 2013 @ 9:43 am

    on the eastern shore of MD they are telling me they can only get the white label, not as good in my opinion. We have ABC stores and they tell me it is from the supplier. Going down taste like Makers Mark. I have enjoyed Ezra for about 15 years and I’m looking for a new bourbon. Sorry to see you go.

  26. Bob
    February 26th, 2013 @ 7:02 am

    What did you do with the remaining 91.00?

  27. David
    March 10th, 2013 @ 5:28 pm

    No, it is a fact…the 90, not 90 Proof, is on the Black Label bottle but it clearly says 40% alcohol, just like the White Label…This was last night in Nashville, but I bought some in North Georgia last weekend and it is 90 proof…maybe they are slowly changing it up to prevent the fallout Maker’s Mark had when they tried it..

  28. TheEnabler
    March 11th, 2013 @ 9:38 am

    Thanks for the information. I may put out some feelers on that.

  29. john
    March 28th, 2013 @ 4:13 pm

    Ezra’s the best cheap bourbon extant, period. In fact, I know of no other cheap whisky, be it scotch, blended, or whatever, that even comes close to the overall quality of Ezra. Frankly, I like it better than B. Jack or any other at any price

  30. Cyclingmasterseller
    March 31st, 2013 @ 5:48 pm

    I must say, I hate Bourbon, however my mother used this Ezra in cooking once, and a left over bottle was laying around. Well, I decided I would at least taste it. And so I got a small mix drink glass out, put a good jigger of Ezra in it, topped exactly with 2 ice cubes and the rest with Vernor’s ginger ale (it has to be Vernors, the other just suck). I gently stirred the cubes and took a giant taste — IT WAS GREAT? YES, IT WAS! I could not believe it, for I generally like the more expensive blended Whiskeys from Canada, but in this case Ezra soon became another favorite. A pint now in 2013 is $5.99 in Ohio. Enjoy!

  31. Armen Ellis
    May 11th, 2013 @ 9:09 am

    Why have you lost the cork ? It has lost the flavor with it . And 90 Proof this 80 proof is weak . Come on fix it or Im gone somewhere else .

  32. Truett
    May 11th, 2013 @ 11:49 am

    I am 63 and have been drinking Ezra since ’66. I will not drink anything else. When they got rid of the cork, I got pissed and sent them an angry email. Their reason was cost related and said it is still the same bourbon. Still pissed about the cork but I’m still buying it. My wife has been converted. My youngest daughter is about to be married and Ezra will be the only bourbon at the reception!

  33. TheEnabler
    May 16th, 2013 @ 11:32 am

    Nice choice for the wedding. I approve the commitment!

  34. john
    May 21st, 2013 @ 11:09 am

    A bit light-flavored but very smooth, especially considering that it’s 90 proof. EB is the only bourbon I drink – period.

  35. JWS
    June 10th, 2013 @ 1:41 am

    I LOVE Ezra Brooks!!! If the EB website is to be believe, they’re cutting this proud economical warrior down to 80 proof!! SAY IT ISN’T SO, LUXCO!!!
    Also, if you can find it, there’s an “Old Ezra 101”, that I’ve found to be a VERY viable sub to the “Turkey” bourbon. Give it a taste, if you can….

  36. Jerry Neubert
    June 14th, 2013 @ 5:57 pm

    I have been an Ezra white label customer for about 10 years. My favorite liquor store began carrying Ezra bottled in St Louis. The whiskey was much darker in color and didn’t taste the same. I was going to complain to the store but decided to look at the back of the rack and found a bottle with Louisville as the distillery. Much better!, if it has the Ezra label, why isn’t it exactly the same? It’s like buying clothes made off shore!!! I am definitely going to look closer at the label from now on!

  37. Lee Founds
    July 8th, 2013 @ 10:00 pm

    Just checked the EB in my cupboard and it is clearly labled 45% Alch, i.e., 90 proof. I do enjoy the taste and after taste of the EB, and it is my daily vice, er, I mean pleasure. I have come this route via Buffalo Trace, Old Forester, Old Granddad and yes JD……not necessarily in that order and must say that I enjoy EB as much or more than the others. Though truth be known, I’ll splurge on a Buffalo Trace now and again.

  38. Bill Welsh
    August 4th, 2013 @ 3:22 pm

    Look, I wish that I could afford to drink all the high end bourbons on a regular basis,but I can’t. I really like this bourbon, I tend to favor more corn based, sweet bourbons and this certainly works for me. I drank Evan Williams for years until I found Ezra. I feel that it is almost on par with Maker’s Mark (which I love). As for the price, it can’t be beat.

  39. mike dee
    March 28th, 2014 @ 3:00 pm

    My Ezra black is 90 proof 45 percent alcohol

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