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Early Times 354 Bourbon Whiskey Review

About.com Rating 4 Star Rating


Early Times is a classic name in American bourbon. Unfortunately for the United States, years ago Early Times bourbon converted to Early Times whiskey due to market changes. Small amounts of Early Times bourbon were still produced for export to Japan, but the product sold as Early Times in America didn't meet the legal requirements for bourbon. Bourbon must be aged in new barrels and the product sold in America was aged in both new and used barrels and therefore could only be labelled as whiskey. Luckily, Early Times will now offer both the classic Early Times Kentucky whiskey and the new Early Times 354 bourbon .


Early Times is the second oldest continuously made Kentucky whiskey on the market, and during the 1950's, Early Times bourbon was the best-selling bourbon in the United States.  Early Times 354 bourbon returns to its rich heritage with this bourbon, named after the famous distillery permit number of the distillery. On the nose, Early Times 354 offers notes of caramel, vanilla, oak, cinnamon and allspice intertwined with hints of corn and cereal grains. This bourbon will please those who prefer a sweeter style of bourbon, but there is just enough spice to provide some interest to fans of spicier bourbon whiskies.

Body and Palate

Early Times 354 bourbon is a deep amber colored whiskey that is light on the tongue but has enough viscosity to coat but not overwhelm the mouth. On the palate, warm vanilla pound cake, cinnamon apple cider, warm caramel apples, dried apricots and mandarin orange flavors play on the tongue with just a touch of spice and toast notes evident.


Early Times 354 finishes rather quickly, but as this is more of a session bourbon, perfect for poker nights, cocktail parties and barbecues, a quick finish is very desirable. At 80 proof (40% abv) Early Times 354 gently slips off the palate, but not before a final temptation filled with baked apples, corn on the cob and vanilla pudding.

At a suggested retail price of $15.99, Early Times 354 offers a nice, smooth Kentucky bourbon at a very affordable price point. Early indications are that this bourbon is quickly turning into a hit, and given its long, rich history in the annals of American bourbon, it is about time Early Times 354 returns to its place among the top-selling American bourbons. Whether you are seeking a great entry level bourbon at an affordable price point, or if you are looking for a versatile bourbon for your home bar, either way Early Times 354 is sure to deliver maximum satisfaction.

Disclosure: Review samples were provided by the manufacturer. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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