McAffee’s Benchmark Old No. 8

75 Flawed. Avoid.

Benchmark 8 is a largely forgettable bourbon.

Tglencairn-amazonhis truncated review was originally posted as part of the Budget Bourbon Battle Royale. See the original post here.

Benchmark 8 is yet another of Buffalo Trace’s products distilled using their proprietary low rye Mash Bill #1 (along with Eagle Rare, Old Charter, Col. E. H. Taylor, Stagg, Stagg. Jr, and standard Buffalo Trace.) That’s a big lineup of bourbons using the same recipe. Some might think that therefore makes them essentially the same bourbon, right? Wrong. As we’ve mentioned before, when, where, and how long bourbon is aged has as much influence on the flavor as the recipe of the distillate. Thus, Benchmark 8 shares some characteristics with other Buffalo Trace products, but doesn’t share the same flavor. This sample clocks in at 40% ABV (80 proof).


Originally owned by Seagram’s, Benchmark is now owned by Sazerac and distilled at Buffalo Trace. It is packaged in bottles very similar to Jack Daniel’s, and is marketed towards those who like the Tennessee Whiskey.

  • Appearance: Medium Amber.
  • Nose: Caramel, leather, and plum.
  • Taste: More leather greets the tongue with earthy flavors of tobacco and a hint of oak. Slight sweetness on the tip of the tongue, but not pronounced.
  • Finish: Dry, short in length, with some lingering oak and tannin.
  • Score: 75/100.


Benchmark 8 is a largely forgettable bourbon. There isn’t anything offensive, per say, in the flavor or nose, but there’s also nothing particularly memorable. It’s a low alcohol, mild flavored bourbon. If that’s your thing, it’s certainly not the worst bourbon in this price range, but there’s no reason to choose it over any other of these $17-ish bourbons, less so compared to Evan Williams Black Label, for instance.

The scoring system is a standard 100 point system based on 4 categories, taken in order.

  1. Appearance: 15 points
  2. Nose: 25 Points
  3. Palate/Taste: 35 Points
  4. Finish: 25 points
  • 95+        Epic
  • 90-94     Excellent, Good representative of its style
  • 85-89     Solid sipper
  • 80-84     Drinkable, but potentially flawed.
  • 75-79     Low quality, flawed, use as a mixer only
  • <75        Rot Gut, avoid
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  1. Pingback: Ever wanted to see all of our Whiskey Review Scores all in one Place? (March 2015) | ModernThirst

  2. I actually disagree with this review. Not on many of these but this one is way off. This is about the best bottle of Bourbon you will buy under $20.


    • Hi Ralfy. Thanks for reading and commenting!

      It’s been a while since I wrote this review, but I think my overall impressions stand for me. It’s largely forgettable. Evan Williams, for well under $20, in addition to Evan Williams bonded, heaven hill bonded, and others taste like far more complex pours at this range than benchmark for me.

      Still, there’s certainly nothing offensive about benchmark, it’s just the under proofed, underaged cousin of some far better offerings from buffalo trace.

      Regardless, my long standing mantra is that buffalo trace doesn’t make a bad whiskey, so if benchmark is the baseline for that, then BT isn’t doing too poorly. So if anyone likes it in its price range, I fully support it!


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