Friday, February 12, 2016
Review - Old Forester
Old Forester was first launched in 1870 and was introduced by George Garvin Brown. His company, Brown-Forman, operated and distilled from premises on West Main Street in Louisville, Kentucky. The street was nicknamed Whiskey Row due to the number of distillers there in the early 1900s.
The production of Old Forester is currently overseen by Chris Morris, who is only the 7th Master Distiller in Brown-Forman's history. An exciting development for Old Forester is on the horizon with its return to West Main Street for the first time since 1919 with the opening a brand new distillery and visitor centre close to the original site.
Old Forester is bottled at 43% ABV (86 Proof) and was launched in the UK in mid-December 2015. Numerous other expressions are available in the USA and other markets. It is available through specialist whisky retailers and an increasing number of bars. A bottle should cost around the £35 mark.
Our tasting notes
The colour is golden yellow and the nose has an initial volatility to it, which soon settles to give a lovely set of aromas - think of vanilla, golden syrup, desiccated coconut, burnt sugar and candied orange peel. Underneath are hints of morello cherry, white chocolate and cinnamon.
On the palate it is the fruity notes that appear first, with the candied orange and morello cherry from the nose mixing together well. These are supported by a delicious combination of sweet characteristics. These include vanilla, butterscotch, honey and marzipan, plus a lovely note of fresh coconut.
At this point the whisky feels soft and creamy in the mouth, but then adds complexity by developing further warming wood spices. First comes a hit of bittersweet cereals, then some cinnamon and fresh oak shavings, then hints of gingerbread and the returning orange and cherry.
The finish is pleasingly spicier and drier than expected, especially once the sweet and fruity elements fade. The orange/cherry combination, butterscotch, vanilla and marzipan notes are followed by warming bitter rye grains, cinnamon and oak.
What's the verdict?
Old Forester is a lovely and easy drinking bourbon. It has plenty of characteristics and is not too sweet or too spicy as some bourbons can be. The balance between the sweeter, fruity and spicier elements is good and makes this a versatile whisky. It could be drunk neat as easily as it would compliment robust cocktail ingredients, such as in a classic Whisky Smash.