The 2023 release of Eagle Rare 17 is one of the most cherry-forward bourbons I’ve tried in quite some time. And it isn’t just one type: black, sweet, tart, and Maraschino are all there with enough time and an inquisitive palate. While the nose’s cherry components came hand-in-hand with chocolate, in this case, the pairing is more akin to frozen custard or a thick egg cream. The mouthfeel itself is relatively thin, but it gets the job done, carrying most of its flavors with somewhat equal force.
Subsequent sips bring more fruit — ripe honeydew is a standout note — and oakiness that builds gradually without ever turning over into ashy or burnt (though I certainly tried to find the line with more than one refill). There’s a touch of leather, but it’s part of a well-composed whole, as if flavors were reverse engineered around the strong wood influence. Frankly, this reminds me of some fine barrel-aged cocktails, the profile built to use a barrel’s drying astringency to maximum effect.