There's another American Whiskey that comes in a square bottle with a black label you can get in even a tiny pub on a Bank Holiday Monday from Abersoch (deepest Darkest Wales) to anywhere else that sells alcohol- and that's Jack Daniels.
Benchmark looks the same at casual glance and reading of the label with mild disinterest. But there's three immediate points that stand out- 1. It's cheaper than JD (by a factor of 4-5 quid in Waitrose) 2. It's not 'Sour Mash' but yer actual honest to goodness Bourbon 3. It's actually rather more complicated and nicer to drink.
Nose- Cherries and apple juice: that heady, fruity sourness you get apple juice. Flavour- The apple becomes the sourish apple-caramel of a tarte-tatin, plenty of cherries and a bit of the smokiness that makes a bourbon fun. Middle ground has quite a bit of the licorice that you get with many mid level bourbons, backed with some cherries. Quite a bit of candy-vanilla sweetness as it fades out. Not a massively long finish, but that just spurs you to take another nip ;)
With a lump of ice (or two, I'm not upstage about that) it smooths out to an appley-smokey drink of quite creamy mouthfeel, at the cost of some of the cherry flavour
When I first bought Benchmark I didn't expect much- maybe a 'JD-A-Like' awfulness. But I keep coming back to it as a great go-to bourbon in the UK market. There's more challenging and exciting bourbons out there, but not at this price.