Not much makes my eyebrow raise more quickly than the words “bacon flavored” or “flavored bourbon,” and generally not in a good way. So when the folks behind Ol’ Major Bacon Flavored Bourbon invited me over to sample theirs, I was hesitant but open minded. I’m glad I went because as I was taken by surprise at the taste and thought that went into creating this product. Infusing spirits is nothing new, from the top bars in the world down to home enthusiasts, it’s so easy to do and presents limitless opportunities and flavor combinations; I’ve made home made bacon infused bourbon on multiple occasions myself. But somehow when you buy it off the shelf, it never quite tastes as good and too often is loaded down with sugars or other unnatural flavoring agents.
Ol’ Major is made with naturally real rendered bacon fat which is then infused with whiskey sourced from Terressentia and comes from an 88% corn mash bill. The whiskey itself is young but the flavor definitely comes through and hasn’t absorbed any overpowering wood notes which I feel would not mix as well with the bacon. Finally a very small amount [a fraction of a percent of the final product] of natural beet sugar is added to give it a slightly sweeter note. It’s then cut down to a very drinkable 35% [70 Proof] and bottled up for sale at around $30 USD. [You can check below to see what states it’s currently available in.]
Here’s my tasting notes:
Nose: Largely crispy bacon and very reminiscent of pork rinds, but not over powering, you don’t get much of the underlying bourbon but there are hints of butterscotch that come through.
Taste: The whiskey itself is light, a hint of sweetness, the smoke from the bacon comes through and that familiar pork rind / cracklin’ burnt taste [that I love] and the spice of the young whiskey is there but no major normal whiskey related notes other than some general spice and cinnamon.
Finish: Pork rinds, green apple [not sure why], no real sweetness, a very light slow burn on the tongue and throat, with a meaty bacon mouth feel.
While most folks probably won’t want to drink this neat on the daily, it’s certainly not bad to sip straight up. I would drink this as a shot in a bar before I’d ever touch a cinnamon or honey whiskey. But where Ol’ Major Bacon Bourbon will really shine is in a cocktail. Use it in an old fashioned with some savory bitters, or a manhattan and let the salty component really up the flavor [and combat the sweetness of the vermouth.] As you can see, they have a gift set with their own Bloody Mary mix and bacon salt which I’ll be serving up to my friends this weekend and getting their reactions so keep an eye out for that.
This isn’t for the purists and snobs, but this whiskey does a great job of filling a niche in the market that dominated by sugared up and overly flavored whiskey liqueurs. If you don’t want to take the time [and make a fatty mess] by infusing your own, Ol’ Major is your best bet for the dollar and the flavor.
You can find it on shelves in CT, CO, TN, IL, NY [Buffalo Only], GA, KS, KY, MO, TX, NV, SC, MI, MA, CA, and in Montreal QC at Brutus.