Confusion erupted yesterday and today when my cousin posted a picture of this year’s Hokus Pokus Old Forester barrel pick but quoted my review from last year’s barrel:
“The Hokus Pokus Single Barrel is not as good as the Birthday Bourbon. But it’s competitive as hell with it. Surprisingly so. And as opposed to a few bottles, Hokus got a whole barrel.”
I ended up reminding folks that review was from last year and that I hadn’t cracked open this year’s bottle yet. But, I have tried this before. I was one of three tasters of various barrel samples sent by Old Forester for this barrel selection. I think it is even better than last year’s pick.
The color is a nice amber with mahogany flecks. Something you would expect in a higher proof bourbon. But this is only 90 proof. On the swirl we have a light film and some healthy legs.
On the nose is oak, wood sugars like you find in Woodford Reserve, rye spice, and baking spice. On the palate, the wood sugars taste caramelized to a wonderful result, nice oak notes, some slightly bitter dark chocolate notes, the rye spice turns to cinnamon on the end, and the finish really lingers. Luscious mouthfeel, especially for something this low in proof. Boy is this thing smooth. Tons of flavor with no alcohol burn.
Now, when we tasted the barrel samples, they were cask strength. This was not our favorite at that proof. But when we proofed the samples down, this one was by far the best. It retained so much character and flavor even after adding water.
This is a steal at $40.
I highly recommend this bottling to folks who want to try drinking bourbon neat but have found drinking it neat to have too much burn to be enjoyable. This bourbon has so much character at this low a proof without massive alcohol burn.
I also highly recommend this for Old Forester and Woodford Reserve fans. This barrel really shows off the great bourbon Brown Forman can make.