Hancock’s President’s Reserve

Maker: Buffalo Trace. Frankfort, Kentucky, USA (Sazerac)wp-1472261717513.jpg

Style: High corn bourbon.

Age: NAS

Proof: 88.9 (44.45% ABV)

Michigan state minimum: $55

Appearance: Light auburn.

Nose: Alcohol, leather, corn syrup.

Palate: Full bodied. Alcohol, vanilla, creamed corn from the can.

Finish: Canned corn, alcohol. Fairly short.

Parting words: Hancock’s President’s Reserve was released in 1991 as a part of Ancient Age  (now known as Buffalo Trace) distillery’s series of single barrel bourbons introduced by master distiller Gary Gayheart. That series also includes Elmer T. Lee, Rock Hill Farms and Blanton’s. All of them are made from what is now Buffalo Trace’s mashbill #2, also used for the lower shelf Ancient Age line. As far as I can tell, Hancock’s was created at that time, although Hancock and Hancock Club bourbons were produced in Cincinnati before prohibition.

I’ve never been able to figure out what Hancock’s Reserve was supposed to bring to the table. Blanton’s has big leathery oak, Rock Hill Farms is elegant and high proof and Elmer T. Lee has the best QPR of the four, or at least did until it started being hoarded by stooges. Hancock’s is more expensive than Elmer, rougher and lower proof than RHF and sappier than Blanton’s. At one time, it was often a good example of BT’s earthiness, but that time has passed. It tastes like it’s barely 5-6 years old now. I tasted it next to the current 36 m/o Ancient Age 10 star ($19), and it tasted better but not by much. It reminds me of what AA 10 star tasted like seven years ago. Best thing I can say for it is that the bottle is one of the best looking on the shelf.

Hancock’s is a sad illustration of how some brands have had to fall by the wayside as Buffalo Trace has struggled to keep up with high demand for its bourbon. Maybe it would be best just to kill this one all together. Hancock’s President’s Reserve is not recommended.

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4 thoughts on “Hancock’s President’s Reserve

  1. Your review of Hancock’s PR mirrors my experience, Josh. I had a bottle quite a while back (late 90’s? Early 00’s?) that was pretty good, but didn’t quite make my ‘grab another’ list. I foolishly picked up another a year or so ago (at a waaay too high price in Michigan), and was VERY disappointed in it; and would’ve been at half the price. I agree that BT should just pull the plug on it rather than let it languish at this low QPR. I don’t think it’s good for their overall roster to leave it out there any more. Of course, as long as they’re getting this kind of cheese for it, I imagine it’s a real source of ‘board room back slapping’, when the bottom line is reviewed.

  2. LB in Lexington used to have it regularly for half the Michigan price. It might be worth $27 but I wouldn’t look at it twice for $55.

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