Tag Archives: Brown-Forman

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (2015) – Review

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Background

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (2015)
Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (2015)

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is a limited edition annual release from Brown-Forman. It’s released each year around the start of September to commemorate founder’s George Garvin-Brown’s birthday on September 2nd. The Old Forester Birthday Bourbon special releases date back to 2002. This year, 13,200 bottles were produced.

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is a 100-proof, 12 year old Bourbon barreled from a single day’s production on June 13, 2003. So, that’s kind of interesting, but also unique to this batch is its aging. The barrels for 2015 were pulled from the same warehouse location rather than blended together from barrels of different locations. All the barrels here are said to have aged near a heating duct which results in higher temperatures during warehouse’s climate control cycles. Brown-Forman says this resulted in a “very robust, intense wood-derived characteristics.”

Details

12 Years Old. 100-proof. Thought to be standard Old Forester mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% barley. Paid $70

Aroma

Rich aromas reminiscent of Old Forester line and a lesser extent Woodford Reserve. Reminds me of toasted/burnt marshmallows. Lots of spices, sweet, fruity, apples, touch of latex. Really nice smelling glass

Flavor

Soft and sweet. Fruity cherries, charred wood with general deep roasted flavors, coffee. Some sharp bitterness and astringency towards the finish.

Overall

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is sweet, caramel goodness with a firm wood presence. To me once Bourbons age to a certain point, they begin to turn towards more oxidized musty, medicinal phenolic flavors and also usually get extra woody. Old Forester Birthday Bourbon I think is heading down that path. While there is some woody-astringency in there, it’s not too heavy. If you like older and woody Bourbons, this may be more to your liking.

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon packs a punch of flavors. Minus a little chemical in the nose, the aroma is pretty outstanding. The flavors and even alcohol seems a little more reminiscent of a barrel proof than a still significant 100-proof. I think Old Forester Birthday Bourbon would be a good slow sipping Bourbon on a cold day.

In recent years, prices for Old Forester Birthday Bourbon have been climbing as it started to show up on the limited edition radars. With any limited edition, there’s a premium that more times than not to me fails to live up to what’s in the bottle. I think this is true of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, so really you’re probably looking to buy it for chance to try something that’s a once a year thing. Given my preferences for younger Bourbons, I’d probably suggest trying a glass first.

Recommendation

Try a Glass / 2.5 out of 5.0 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Links & Other Reviews

 

 

Old Forester 1870 – Review

Old Forester 1870 Background

Old Forester 1870
Old Forester 1870

Bourbon lore has Old Forester as the longest selling brand of Bourbons and the first to be sold in pre-packaged bottles. George Garvin Brown was a pharmaceuticals salesman and partnered with his brother JTS Brown to begin buying Bourbon barrels and packaging them in sealed bottles. As a practice, they would buy multiple barrels and “batch” them together to be bottled. The batching helped to create a more consistent product compared to the variations found in individual barrels from multiple distilleries. The practice of both batching for consistency and bottling for consumer protection made Old Forester an innovative brand among consumers.

Old Forester 1870 is a tribute to this batching and the first in what appears to be a Whiskey Row Series of releases. Brown-Forman created Old Forester 1870 by pulling together barrels from three different warehouses across three different days of production, similar to how the “original batch” was made. I’m not sure how this really varies from modern practices, which is basically the same thing. Unless it’s a single barrel product, all Bourbons are batched together across a variety of barrels to create a consistent brand. The only difference is Old Forester 1870 is a small batch Bourbon (an ambiguous term of its own) vs the standard Old Forester brands.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 45%. Thought to be standard Old Forester mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% barley. Paid $45

Aroma

Brown sugar. Vanilla, Fruity bubblegum. Caramel apples. Cherries. Oak. Some baking spices.

Flavor

Sweetness is kind of candy-like. Brown sugar and vanilla comes through. Fruitiness too. Oak is firm with a little astringency. Barrel char. Finish is a bit sharp.

Overall

I like Old Forester and if you’re a fan I think you’ll also like Old Forester 1870. Old Forester 1870 is distinctly Old Forester profile, but better. I’ve reviewed Old Forester Signature and enjoyed that as both a nice Bourbon and a good value. I think Old Forester 1870 is more interesting and nicer on the palate. I think Old Forester 1870 is specially sweeter, softer, and just generally more pleasant.

The tricky part is Old Forester 1870 costs basically twice as much as the mentioned Old Forester Signature. I pulled out Old Forester Signature to taste side by side and I don’t think Old Forester 1870 is 2x better to justify that price. Old Forester 1870 is a nice Bourbon, it’s just that relative to the rest of the shelf it’s a little over priced. Also Old Forester 1870 is apparently not bringing anything too novel with its “original batch” marketing. At best, it seems a nice selection of some choice Old Forester barrels at a modest price. And with enough availability to actually be found on the shelf. So, if you’re an Old Forester fan, this bottle should be calling for you. If not, you might be happy checking out Old Forester Signature first.

Recommendation

Buy a Bottle – 3.0 out of 5.0 Rating
(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Buying Options and Further Research

I enjoy the mentioned Old Forester Signature. Beyond that, other standard rye Bourbons around this price worth looking at include its cousin Woodford Reserve, Knob Creek Small Batch, Baker’s, Angle’s Envy, Wild Turkey Kentucky Sprint, and John J Bowman.

Links & Other Reviews

Old Forester Signature – Review

Old Forester Signature Background

Old Forester Signature BottleOld Forester Signature is a part of a line of Old Forester products from Brown-Forman. There’s the Old Forester Classic, Old Forester Signature, and an annually released Old Forester Birthday. Old Forester is credited as the longest surviving Bourbon brand, going all the way back to 1870.

Old Forester was noted as being one of the first Bourbons sold as sealed container. Typically whiskey was sold by the barrel and then dispensed into decanters for retail. The containers could then be diluted to various degrees of quality. George Garvin Brown was a pharmaceuticals salesman and partnered with his brother JTS Brown to begin buying Bourbon and packaging it in sealed bottles. By selling sealed glass bottles, Old Forester offered a higher certainty of quality. In fact, it was claimed to be the favorite choice of pharmacists. As a result, the name Old Forester is named after a pharmacists Dr. Forrester.

Details

No Age Statement. Bottled at 50%. Mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% barley. Paid $23 

Aroma

Roasted, Caramel, Vanilla. Dark fruits of raisins and figs. Charred oak

Flavor

Sweet and toffee. Some blurt flavors. Buttery. Nutty. Charred oak. a little alcohol warmth. A touch of water dials downy he burnt here a bit. Some drying astringency in the finish.

Overall

Old Forester Signature has me rethinking my Woodford Reserve review. The similarities here are evident, but a good chunk of change cheaper. I tasted these side by side and I’m leaning towards Old Forester Signature. Woodford Reserve has some sourness that’s a bit off putting . Old Forester Signature also has a higher proof and seems to hold up well enough to some water to fix some of its warts (to me) without giving up much. I feel Woodford Reserve is softer and more drinkable while Old Forester Signature has a little bite and sharpness giving it some character.

Old Forester Signature is rich and satisfying with some assertive roasted and burnt sugar flavors. Also has some nice sweetness to stand up to these flavors.

Pricing on this is great. Lots of flavor and nice strong proof at a lower shelf price. If you’re drinking Woodford Reserve, you should check this one out. In fact, it might be your new favorite.

Recommendation

Buy Again – 4.0/5.0 Rating

(My 5 point scale: Pass, Try a Glass, Buy a Bottle, Buy Again, Shut Up and Take My Money – Bottle price is taken into consideration for recommendations.)

Buying Options and Further Research

I talked plenty about Woodford Reserve, so there’s that. Old Forester Signature is standard Bourbon with some quality competition near its price. If you’re looking for something similar check out Elijah Craig 12 Year. That has nice barrel character similar to Old Forester Signature. Another standard Bourbon option is Wild Turkey 101 and Jim Beam Black.

Links & External Reviews