Early Times Bourbon Review (1985)

This bottle of Early Times Bourbon is from the 1980s when Early Times was still a bourbon. These days it’s a “Kentucky Whisky” that’s a blend of bourbon and bourbon distillate aged in used cooperage. Which, there’s nothing wrong with that in my mind, I’m glad they’re not dumping GNS in it and instead using “not-bourbon” whiskey.

Getting back to this, today, we’re trying it in its original form, Early Times Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. No used cooperage here, just good ole new charred oak aged for at least 3 years.

A modern ET review is coming tomorrow and like this one, the one tomorrow will be distilled by Brown-Forman. Both bottles pre-date the acquisition of the brand by Sazerac (Buffalo Trace). Especially this one since the acquisition was in 2020.

Early Times Bourbon (1985) – Details and Tasting Notes


Whiskey Details

Natural Color

Style: Bourbon (Straight)
Region: KY, USA
Distiller: Brown-Forman

Mash Bill: 79% Corn, 11% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
Cask: New Charred Oak
Age: 36 Months (3 Years)
ABV: 40%

Early Times Bourbon Review (1985) Price: NA – Auction, Specialty Store or Private Seller

Related Whiskey

Early Times Bottled In Bond
Early Times Kentucky Whiskey
1986 Old Taylor Bottled In Bond
1975 Old Forester Bonded
1981 Old Forester Kentucky Straight Bourbon

“The same basic process of distilling early Times established in 1860 continues today.” – Early Times

Early Times Bourbon Review (1985) Tasting Notes


Butterscotch, copper, oak, maple, honey candy, and some acetone and that musty OBE note always found in dusties.

So… much… butterscotch!

Butterscotch, copper, oak, maple, honey candy, and some acetone and that musty OBE note always found in dusties.

Still… so… much… butterscotch.

Medium -> Butterscotch, copper, and citric acid

Balanced, thin body and a light watery feel.

Early Times Bourbon Review (1985) – Overall Thoughts and Score

Dusties are always fun. They aren’t always good, but they are always fun. Cracking one open is like cracking open a time capsule. In this case, it opens to when I was four and it very could have been what my Dad would have drank if he wasn’t a teetotaler. Then again, he could have been a Scotch guy or… (gulp) a vodka drinker. We’ll never know.

But what we do know is that this was a standard, bottom-shelf, whiskey back then and if it were around today in this form it might still be that. The revived Early Times BiB is quite nice and to be honest, given the option, I’d go for the modern BiB over this dusty Early Times Bourbon (1985) any day.

SCORE: 2.5/5 (average, drinkable, possible minor flaws ~ C+ | 77-79)

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