This is a take-no-prisoners whisky of the Old Style.
Notes: This bourbon, much like its founder, is iconoclastic and in some ways hard to easily define. This was the first bourbon to be bottled. Prior to this, every bourbon was shipped in barrels then poured into decanters (usually engraved) and set out in the bar. There was no way to guarantee as to what was being poured into the bar decanter. This whisky comes in several incarnations – 86 proof, the Birthday Bourbon series (a limited release version out twice a year,) and this one, the 100 proof version.
Appearance: Harvest gold color – a younger whisky than some we have tried recently (older whisky has more of a red shift in the color). Caramel and cocoa notes on nosing. Nice edge line on the glass when you swirl it, smooth layer of whisky on swirling.
First Impression: Rye, corn, and oak. You can smell the oak’s influence on the whiskey in the peppery scent and the vanilla notes. Lots of oak influence on the whisky both in color and smell.
Taste: Rye, oak and some sweetness to it. Vanilla and caramel come out from the oak barrels. Fair amount of burn as it goes down Reminds me of swallowing a piece of chewed up ginger in the after warmth/burn you get . This is a take-no-prisoners whiskey of the Old Style.
Finish is somewhat short and a little hot compared to some of the older boutique style bourbons out lately. A bit spare or spartan compared to those. However, I appreciate the fact that they do not use wheat – it lacks the burn and rubbing alcohol taste that is so common with the wheat (rather than rye) blends. Rye is not an easy grain to use- respect them for their use of a unique mash bill in producing this whiskey.
Drinks: We tried it in a Manhattan and the consensus was. . . no. Does not stand up as well as some other bourbons and does not marry well with the vermouth for some reason. As to other drinks – good for other uncomplicated drinks. You will need to experiment and adjust recipes if you are used to using a sweeter, heavier bodied bourbon.
Cigars: Yes, works well with a milder cigar, cuts the nicotine/tar right through.
Final Thoughts: A bit heartier than the 86 with a heavier presence and body. Beats the Jim Beam equivalents in the proof and price points. A good solid value for the money.
Bottle: The bottle has had a major makeover recently – gone is the old paper label in the front – it now uses a clear plastic label that is applied to a new shorter, rounder bottle. Gold antique script has replaced the old printed statement by Mr Brown. I personally miss the old look and feel of the traditional old bottle – it was a nice holdover and in style with the whiskey it contained.
Web site: http://www.oldforester.com
Fast loading after getting past the annoying date-of-birth screen (okay, it helps them gather some demographics, but I always wonder those sites do with the information). Decent information and good pictures of the different whiskies and some basic recipes. I particularly like the tasting information and printable tasting/evaluation notes – very nice- I highly recommend printing them down and using them for people starting to taste any spirits.