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.
No Age Statement. Bottled at 45%. Thought to be standard Old Forester mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% barley. Paid $45
Brown sugar. Vanilla, Fruity bubblegum. Caramel apples. Cherries. Oak. Some baking spices.
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.
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.
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.)