A real man or womans rye whiskey, full of grain, a bit of fire and a lot of spice. Nicely done!
Notes: Old Forester is a relatively venerable brand name which is owned by Brown Forman. Celebrating 150 years of production and famous for being America’s first bottled bourbon. Some of the other previous expressions we have reviewed are their standard Old Forester 86 Proof Bourbon, the Old Forester 10o Bourbon, and 0ne of their specialty/limited release Old Forester Birthday Bourbons.
Like almost everyone else in the industry these days, they are adding rye to their lineup. Rye is a somewhat difficult and more expensive whiskey to make compared to a bourbon, even though rye itself is used as a secondary ingredient in many a bourbon mashbill to add more spice and structure to the corn, it faded from the national consciousness during and after prohibition with the flood of cheap Canadian and outright bootleg rye that blackened the reputation of rye and supplanted American Rye after prohibition with relatively cheap and flavorless ( or less flavor anyway) until it damn near died out and only Jim Beam Yellow Label was one of the last American ryes made and frankly, not a good example of the category.
Brown Formans portfolio also includes Woodford Reserve, Jack Daniels, Herradura, and El Jimador Tequilas, Finlandia Vodka and a few Scotches that virtually no one has ever heard of.
Originally known as the Normandy Rye Whiskey brand this rye is the original mash bill of 65% rye, 20% malted barley and 15% corn with the Old Forester proprietary yeast they are bringing it back after a 40- year hiatus. Because of the high percentage of barley malt ( which adds to the overall production costs as the most expensive ingredient by weight ), they are able to forego using nutrient supplements that can flavor ( or result in less flavor) and add a more malt flavor ( think Unpeated Irish malt whiskey or beer.
Appearance: Deep bronze in the bottle, gold in the glass. On swirling it leaves a medium coat on the glass with droplets forming along the edge line after a bit.
First Impression: Lovely gingery floral spicy start with an intense deep floral, with hints a Spanish cedar, tobacco and rye grain.
Taste: Sweet and drying entry with a grain and bananas entry and a smooth but bracing entry with a medium to heavy oiliness that lubricates the slight burn as it travels to the back of the throat leaving a lovely piquant oil of malt and rye finish.
Drinks: Makes for a proper and delicious Manhattan, highball or a drier whiskey sour or Old Fashioned with plenty of structure and complexity. Recommended for a beefier whiskey drink that holds its own but does not overwhelm. Unlike many other whiskeys these days it is still bottled at 100 proof ( as they should be) and not watered down prior to mixing.
Bottle: Very similar to the Old Forester Bourbon bottle for the most part _ at least in shape and general layout of labels and closures. Differentiation is subtle but distinctive – Cap says RYE on top rather than the proof, Bottom of the capsule is green with gold graphics border and RYE in larger all caps followed by WHISKEY in smaller all caps ( rather than a blue band with black with “ESTD 1870”.The scalloped label on the bottom of front label area is again green background with gold with 100 PROOF and RYE in banknote style script (Bourbon is gold with black with proof and Bourbon). Same bottle shape with a good grade of glass and classic old school whiskey shaped bottle
Other: Note that they spell it Whisky without the” e” unlike many American brands
Final Thoughts: Overall a very spicy, malty, high proof rye that reminds one of a well made craft rye beer in whiskey form and harks back to an earlier era of a robust but subtle rye.
A bit pricier than some out there but worth the extra money given the cost of the ingredients and higher proof! Recommended!
Website: Old Forester.com
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