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Benchmark Bourbon vs Buffalo Trace: Which is Better? (2023)

Last Updated on January 9, 2023 by Lydia Martin

Compared to other expressions from the Buffalo Trace Distillery, Buffalo Trace and Benchmark Bourbon are budget-friendly expressions. 

Although these two bourbon spirits come from the same distillery, how do they differ? 

Let’s do a quick Benchmark Bourbon vs Buffalo Trace Bourbon comparison and see which is the better option.  

Buffalo Trace & Benchmark In-Depth Comparison 

Benchmark Bourbon and Buffalo Trace Bottle with Decanter and a Glass on Top of Table

Although Benchmark and Buffalo Trace came from the same facility, they’re not the same whiskey expression. 

Benchmark is bottled at around 80-proof, while Buffalo Trace is bottled at 90-proof.

The reduction in water dilution during the bottling process helps produce a more flavorful and robust Buffalo Trace. 

And in terms of aging, Buffalo Trace is more mature, approximately 6-8 years old, while Benchmark is just around two years old.

How Do They Compare?

Benchmark BourbonBuffalo Trace
Average PriceApprox. $11/750ml Approx. $33/750ml 
Alcohol Proof80-proof90-proof
Age StatementAt least 2 years old 6-8 years old
PalateCaramel-y taste with flavors of oak, spice, and cinnamonEspresso coffee palate with the sweetness of chocolate, oak, vanilla, and caramel taste
ColorMedium amberLight bronze with gold streaks
NoseSmooth nose with hints of baking spice, sour vanilla, apple, caraway seed, sugar, maple fruit, cinnamon, and pineapple fruitCaramel sweetness with a hint of chocolate, vanilla, roasted honey, clove, pineapple, cherry, and apple cinammon 
FinishOak, baking spice, and vanilla finishSweet caramel, vanilla, and oak spice
How It’s ServedBest consumed with cocktailsBest consumed on the rock or neat

Buffalo Trace Bourbon 

Production & Aging Process

Buffalo Trace Distillery Equipment

Made from the mashbill #1, BT bourbon is a blended whiskey [1] from 25-30 casks (aged at least four years old), creating its great taste and flavor profile.

“Buffalo Trace is one of the world’s great whiskeys.”

— Jim Murray, Journalist

After the fermented and distillation, it is transferred to charred oak barrels for aging (around 6 to 8 years) before bottling at 45% ABV. 

Availability

You might find it hard to find Buffalo Trace bourbons nowadays due to limited bottle releases. 

As Buffalo Trace bourbons undergo a 6- to 8-year aging process, the commodity isn’t sufficient for the demand. 

Price Point & Value

Bottle of Buffalo Trace

At around $35 per 750ml (MSRP), Buffalo Trace is affordably priced, given its good quality and reputable brand.  

Although it’s pricier than Benchmark’s, just look at how long it’s aged and its versatility on cocktails due to its interesting flavors, spice, and character.   

Benchmark Bourbon

Production & Aging Process

Whiskey Barrel

It is crafted using the low-rye (10% rye) mash [2] bill #1, fermented and distilled prior to aging using new charred oak barrels. 

After (at least) 2 years of aging, Benchmark is bottled at 40% ABV, packed using an almost similar bottle as Jack Daniel’s.  

Availability

Benchmark expressions are widely available; you can always find them in various liquor and retail stores. 

Price Point & Value

Benchmark Old No. 8 Brand Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey Bottle and a Glasses

At around $11 per 750ml (MSRP), Benchmark is a budget-friendly bourbon and a good deal of spirit.

Although it is from the prominent Buffalo Trace facility, the price is affordable, and this whiskey drink will suit any drinker’s budget.  

Are There Any Similarities? 

Buffalo Trace and Benchmark have similarities, as they’re both produced by the same distillery.

Also, as mentioned above, they’re made using the same mash bill and juice (low-rye mash bill #1). 

Is Benchmark Bourbon An Affordable Option For Buffalo Trace?

Yes, Benchmark is an affordable option for Buffalo Trace. 

Compared to other expressions from Buffalo Trace, Benchmark is cheaper, yet it contains the same mash as Weller, Blanton’s, and Van Winkle.  

Fun Fact: McAfee brothers (James, George, and Robert) left Virginia Westward to explore and discover what we know today as Kentucky.   

FAQs 

Is Benchmark bourbon made by Buffalo Trace?

Yes. Benchmark bourbons are made by Buffalo Trace under the Sazerac company. It is labeled as “McAfee’s Benchmark Old No 8.”

Is Buffalo Trace a better mixer than Benchmark bourbon?

Yes. Buffalo Trace can be a better mixer than Benchmark, depending on your preference. If you want juicy cocktails, opt for BT but if you want your drink tasty, go for Benchmark.

Final Verdict 

Buffalo Trace and Benchmark are both good and decent expressions.

BT is a well-rounded and well-balanced whiskey blend, while Benchmark is an easy drink– with little to no warmth.

If we’re going to choose between the two, we prefer Buffalo Trace over Benchmark.

We like its quality and character, given its affordable price point (compared to other same-aged spirits). 

But, if you’re considering your budget, opt for Benchmark. It’s a decent choice, given its character and flavor profile, and the price range won’t surely break your bank. 

References:

  1. https://www.ehow.com/info_8419983_difference-between-blended-whiskey-bourbon.html
  2. https://www.sciencedirect.com/topics/agricultural-and-biological-sciences/mash

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