When it comes to bottom-shelf spirits, few sayings spring to mind faster than “you get what you pay for.” There are commonly two consumers of these products: those who just want a fix, and those who are short on cash—the two tend to go hand-in-hand. Then we have the morbidly curious such as yours truly. In this case, we’re talking about an expression from a somewhat obscure distillery with some potentially surprising connections.
Enter Zackariah Harris, a perfect example of bottom-shelf bourbon, boasting a 3-year age statement, $10 price tag, and striking resemblance to Jack Daniel’s (among others). It comes out of the Glenmore Distillery, which has history dating back to 1849 when it was originally called the R. Monarch Distillery. By the turn of the 20th century, it became the Glenmore Distillery Company and was one of the six distilleries licensed to produce whiskey for medicinal purposes during Prohibition.
Fast-forward to today and Sazerac currently own the Glenmore Distillery in Owensboro, but the “distilled, aged, and bottled” location on Zackariah Harris mentions Louisville as the location. Digging up information on Glenmore is something of an uphill battle, and as much as I can be a sucker for research, we’re talking about a product all but bound to end up mixed with soda. Can it pull out a surprise and rise even a nudge above its peers? Only one way to find out:
Nose: Cornbread and icing, almost like boozy boxed cereal. A bit bready with a touch of dry wood. Peanut shell and sawdust. Elmer glue.
Palate: Light, a bit sweet and grainy. Faint caramel and brown sugar notes, particularly on the backend. Dry wood and orange citrus on the sides. Impressions of peanut. Corn and yeast hit the back more with each sip.
Finish: Dry oak and mild caramel remnants. A final breeze of peanut and maybe light brown sugar.
Expectations should always be kept in check when dealing with bottles of this nature. Unless all you want is a buzz, nothing about Zackariah Harris’ statistics should check out for the discerning whiskey drinker. That said, I’m of the belief that whiskey hobbyists can always benefit from trying expressions that occupy less flattering spots on the shelf. These can serve as a reminder of what low quality whiskey is truly like, or potentially lead to a pleasant surprise that, even if not outright enjoyable, can at least be tolerated.
Zackariah Harris falls somewhere in-between these two scenarios. It’s an easy expression to pick on thanks to the low proof, youthful character, and aforementioned label design. Everything about it adds up to a weak, underwhelming pour, but I wouldn’t say it left me offended. There’s just enough sweetness and flavor to keep the whiskey from being an outright snoozefest, which isn’t so much impressive as it is relieving. I’d say Zackariah Harris is a safe way to satisfy one’s morbid curiosity for bottom-shelfer quality while just barely being drinkable.