I was in Tesco looking for booze in their tiny booze section. Tired of the usual Tesco Everyday Value Vodka, I decided to opt for something slightly more exciting. There wasn’t much available other than Gordon’s Gin and Smirnoff Vodka, but there was one bottle of whiskey which caught my eye. Old Samuel is a blended bourbon costing £13.50 and comes at a strength of 40%. Being the cheapest drink other than vodka, I decided to take my chances with it.
The bottle is really something special. The shape is that of Jim Beam’s square sided bottle, while the overall design is borrowed heavily from Whyte & Mackay, so one can only assume it’s going to taste like some bastard of a bourbon/scotch amalgamation. The front label proudly displays its silver medal in both the 2010 and 2011 International Wine & Spirit Competition. Winning an award in a competition which covers such a broad variety of drinks means it probably doesn’t hold much merit. Sitting down to compare a bottle of white wine to a bottle of tequila would be quite a bizarre experiment (and something which Booze Review might actually attempt at some point in the future). Old Samuel is another bourbon which states it is “Matured in oak cask”, but seeing there is no minimum aging period for bourbon, I assume this is only for a few hours. Old Samuel is also the only bourbon I’ve seen which suggests mixing it with cola or making it into a long drink. Despite the front label mentioning America 6 times, the back label says it is bottled in the Netherlands. Let’s start drinking then.
Straightaway, Old Samuel smells quite off. It isn’t an overpowering stench, but it smells more like vodka or rum than a smoky bourbon. On the first sip, Old Samuel burns the tip of your tongue, which then gives way to a much more familiar bourbon taste, all before scratching out your esophagus on the way down. If you can ignore the first burn, the bourbon actually isn’t too bad. It has a fairly smooth oaky taste which is good, but it feels like it was probably quite a shitty barrel to begin with. Although it’s a perfectly drinkable whiskey, I wouldn’t be surprised if I found bits of sawdust floating around at the bottom of the bottle. Tired of the burn (and having no intentions of drinking the whole bottle straight) I added ice to attempt to make it slightly less shitty. The ice does a pretty good job of killing off the burn and reveals a slight vanilla flavour in the mix. There’s still a hint of plastic in the taste, but after a few drinks you’ll be able to ignore it.
Old Samuel tastes better than I expected, but it’s a really bland bourbon. There isn’t anything notable about it, other than it maybe being the most average whiskey I’ve ever tasted. If somebody gave you a glass of this, you would say “Yeah, that’s definitely bourbon” and the conversation would be over. Old Samuel is cheap for a bourbon, but there’s nothing about it which would make me want to buy it often. It also feels quite heavy and tiresome to drink. If you’re stuck in a Tesco with a shitty booze selection some night, Old Samuel is a worthwhile pickup, but you’re better buying something cheaper or tastier if you can.
Booze Review rating: 6/10 deliciouses