For this Bourbon on the Rock, we pair Van Halen's debut album with a classic bourbon, Eagle Rare. I can't wait to get started!

Eagle Rare needed a classic album. How much more classic can you get than Van Halen's debut vinyl? When this fantastic four from Pasadena. California rolled out the first Van Halen album in 1978, it launched them into the stratosphere of rock n' roll fame. David Roth, Eddie Van Halen, Alex Van Halen, and Michael Anthony were pure energy driven by the guitar virtuoso Eddie.

Fun fact: Gene Simmons of Kiss is credited with "discovering" the band. Simmons was so impressed he produced a 29-track demo tape for them to shop around for a record label. Gene was pretty high on seeing Van Halen (then named Mammoth) succeed. But Kiss's management said that this new band Gene has been talking about had "no chance of making it." Boy, were they wrong. Van Halen is in the top 20 best-selling rock bands in the Untitled States.

Unfortunately, the rock world was dealt a blow in 2020 with the passing of Eddie. This first album is a creation of one of Eddie's best in my opinion. The brilliance comes out in every song, including "Eruption" which is widely known as one of the best guitar solo pieces of all time.

Let's get to the bourbon.

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Bourbon: Eagle Rare

Proof: 90 (45% A.B.V.)
Age: 10 Years
Origin: Buffalo Trace Distillery - Frankfort, Kentucky

I've always said in this feature that I would not use expensive bourbon that is difficult to find. I'd rather write a piece celebrating good, inexpensive, everyday bourbons. Please forgive me on this one. Eagle Rare is well...rare...and very good. It's not easy to find, but if we're spinning Van Halen vinyl I needed one of the best. Tonight we paired Van Halen’s self-titled album with Eagle Rare bourbon, the Kentucky goodness that lives up to its name. In the bourbon world, it flies high…REAL high. And it’s rare…SO rare, you can normally only find it during bourbon allocation time, around the first of December each year.

Vanilla and chocolate on the nose make me can't wait to put it on my tongue. My taste buds were overjoyed with the velvety, toasty oak. Hints of dried fruit and the ghost-like vanilla subtlety are smooth goodness. They linger on the tongue and really set this bourbon high on a shelf for me. It's got a lot of punch and lingers nicely for a 90 proof. 10 years of aging has made this one of the most sought-after complexities in the bourbon world and I was lucky to find it.

There’s a reason Eagle Rare is the ONLY bourbon to ever win the double gold medal five times at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition. Eagle Rare is born from what most believe is the motherland of bourbon, the Buffalo Trace Distillery - Frankfort, Kentucky. I can’t think or talk about Eagle Rare without reminding everyone of E.R.’s 2 more famous senior family members:

Eagle Rare 17 - A distinguished member of the prestigious BTAC, the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection (the Mount Rushmore of bourbon). Price per bottle? $1600 on the Internet.

Double Eagle Very Rare – Aged 20 years. Packaged in a crystal decanter, with a hand-blown crystal eagle as the stopper AND inside the bottle. It’s packaged in a luscious silver cardboard tomb, with 2 doors that slide open as a spotlight shines down on the bottle. Price per fancy cardboard shrouded crystal goblet? $16,000 on the Internet.

Photo by Danny V. Townsquare Media

My guest taster on this episode is Scott Smith. He's a commercial writer extraordinaire and a good friend. He shows up a lot when there's a new bourbon to try but it's appreciated. Thanks, Scott!

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