Whiskey & Vinyl: Benchmark Full Proof and Johnny Paycheck

Whiskey & Vinyl: Benchmark Full Proof and Johnny Paycheck

(photos by Brandon Chesbro: Outsider)

This week’s Whiskey & Vinyl is a high-proof pour with the Outlaw’s Outlaw. Yep, take this job and shove it. It’s Johnny Paycheck time with a jar full of Benchmark Full Proof.

Stick around for the highlights.

Benchmark Full Proof

  • Distillery: Buffalo Trace Distillery
  • Location: Frankfort, KY
  • Style: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • Age: Not Stated
  • Proof: 125
  • MSRP: $22

The nose opens, as you might expect of a “younger” Full Proof, with a waft of medium alcohol. But there’s so much more on the way, including oak and sweet, sweet tobacco. When you really get sniffing, there’s a mild note of cocoa and then the leather hits ya, like an old baseball mitt. It’s really a fantastic nose. And I’m hesitant to write this—because it’s a positive connotation to me—but the nose also has a bit of a locker-room vibe. I could smell this all day. But let’s sip.

On the palate, it’s butterscotch, cherry, and oak spice with the warming heat of a Fireball candy. But it’s not overwhelming. The mouthfeel is creamy and it pleasantly coats without being syrupy. A little bit of chewing evokes buttered popcorn on the way to the medium-long finish that’s full of cinnamon and . . . wait for it . . . delightful Twizzlers. It’s definitely more cherry than licorice, but that little flicker of numbing fennel is there. And it’s so damn good. Nose. Palate. Finish. I like everything about this bottle, including the price. Time for the Outlaw.

Johnny Paycheck: ‘Take This Job And Shove It’

  • Artist: Johnny Paycheck
  • Year: 1977
  • RIAA: Platinum (1 million units sold)
  • Singles: “Take This Job and Shove It” (No. 1), “Georgia in a Jug” (No. 17)

Over the years, several country artists have been dubbed “outlaws.” But if anyone truly deserved the moniker, it was Johnny Paycheck, whose career was marked by run-ins with the law, alcohol and drug abuse problems, and a stint in prison. However, Johnny’s prolific country music career was in full swing in the 1970s during the Outlaw Movement, frequently scoring Top 10 hits like “She’s All I Got” (No. 2), “Mr. Lovemaker” (No. 2), and “I’m the Only Hell (Mama Ever Raised)” (No. 8), among others.

But it wasn’t until his 1977 album, Take This Job and Shove It, that Johnny finally reached the top of the charts for the first—and only—time. Yes, the title track to Johnny’s aforementioned album—and the first track on the record (penned by David Allan Coe)—hit No. 1 in January 1978 for two weeks. The tune, a proverbial blue-collar working-class middle finger, made Johnny Paycheck a household name and further endeared him to the Outlaw Movement.

But the title track ain’t the only song worth spinning. “Barstool Mountain” and “Georgia in a Jug” are both rock-solid drinking ditties. And if you’ve ever heard Coors beer referred to as “Colorado Kool-Aid,” the album’s final track is probably responsible. But it’s not a feelgood ad spot. Instead, it’s about a barroom bully getting his comeuppance, delivered by Paycheck as a speak-song. It’s a must-hear from the Outlaw’s Outlaw.