It wasn’t supposed to be a Bourbon Heritage Month release. It was supposed to come out in July but with this being the roaring 20s things got delayed a bit. But now Old Forester Distillery located on Whiskey Row in Louisville, Kentucky is releasing not just one but three new batch proof bourbon whiskeys to celebrate its founding 150 years ago by the one-time pharmaceutical salesman George Garvin Brown.
Back in 1870 Brown was buying his whiskey from three distilleries including Mattingly, Mellwood and Atherton – before eventually acquiring the Mattingly Distillery and distilling his own whisky. At the time most bourbon was delivered by the barrel to be distributed by the jug at a local pharmacy or saloon. The saloon might choose to extend a batch out by any means possible. It was not uncommon for the bourbon to be stretched by adding prune juice, neutral grains, tobacco spit, rattlesnake heads, sugar, turpentine, iodine, fuse oil or water. Here’s an Infographic on the topic if you want to learn more. Makes you kinda thirsty doesn’t it?
In order to guard against adulteration, Brown delivered Old Forester in sealed glass bottles providing a greater level of assurance of quality for the brand. Brown believed Old Forester was of such consistent high quality that he sealed it, signed it, and pledged “There is nothing better in the market.” And the rest as they say is history, a 150 year history that endured 13 years of Prohibition, World Wars, changing consumer palates and industry consolidations. Through all this Old Forester remains the only brand with an uninterrupted century and a half history, sold by the same family company before, during and after Prohibition.
Old Forester 150th Year Anniversary Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Old Forester Master Distiller Chris Morris set these particular barrels aside seven years ago for this anniversary release. This batch is made up of 147 barrels of standard Old Forester. Not sure why they didn’t go with 150 barrels to connect the dots to the anniversary? Perhaps those three barrels lost their full contents to the Angel’s Share. The barrels were separated by-hand into distinct batches, differing in proof and flavor profile by Master Taster Jackie Zykan. The result was three batches of 46, 48 and 53 barrels. The barrels were then dumped and screen filtered to remove the charcoal chunks that naturally release in the charred barrels. No additional filtration was applied to this batch.
The new limited release of Old Forester comes in an amber glass bottle paying homage to the way Garvin sold his whiskey in the 1800s. The bottle is reminiscent of the hand-blown glass of George’s day, and will come in a commemorative canister with a hand drawing of the current Old Forester Distillery on Whiskey Row.
“This special bourbon has been in the works for some time now, and while it is exciting for our family and colleagues, I hope the larger Old Forester family – the bourbon lovers and fans – will appreciate it just as much,” said Campbell Brown, Old Forester President and Fifth-Generation Brown Family Member. “My great-great grandfather had quite the vision for his whisky. He was bringing something to the market that had previously not existed and today, we instill his legacy of ingenuity in everything we do – especially in the halls at Old Forester Distilling Co., in the same building George ran the business in the early days of the company.”
“We designed the expression to share our unique story,” said Jackie Zykan, Old Forester Master Taster. “George Garvin Brown was an entrepreneur and an innovator. I have composed three unique blends to honor his process of batching from the three original distilleries. Each captures a distinct facet of the beloved Old Forester flavor profile, each upholding his highest standards of quality.”
Old Forester 150th Anniversary Bourbon Batch Proof Tasting Notes
These Old Forester 150th Anniversary tasting notes are provided by Master Taster Jackie Zykan. This limited edition release trifecta is broken into a fruit bomb, a sweet and spicy and finally a green and spice flavor profile. Full details are below.
Batch 01/03 – Comprised of 46 barrels
- Proof: 125.6 proof/62.8% ABV
- A fruit bomb
- Nose: maple syrup and perfectly ripe orchard fruits, apricot and plum
- Mid: açaí and black current
- Finish: graham cracker, subtle peppermint, long well-rounded spice, moderately dry
Batch 02/03 – Comprised of 48 barrels
- Proof: 126.4 proof/63.2% ABV
- Sweet and spry
- Nose: cherry cordial and raspberry preserves
- Mid: French toast and chocolate malt
- Finish: brilliant and perky spice at the front of the palate, touch of cedar, mildly dry
Batch 03/03 – Comprised of 53 barrels
- Proof: 126.8 proof/63.4% ABV
- Green and spice
- Nose: dill and bright orange peel, hint of light brown sugar
- Mid: sweetens in the middle to melon and pine
- Finish: medium dry, tingling green peppercorns, rosemary, grapefruit peel, and lingering anise
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Zykan explained, “All natural barrel char sediment has been removed via dump room screening. In extremes of temperature this bourbon may naturally haze or cloud. This is normal for an unfiltered bourbon whisky.”
The Old Forester 150th Anniversary Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey will be available starting in October 2020. It will have a suggested retail price of $150 ($1 for each year).