The fall limited releases of bourbon continues apace. Old Forester, the iconic brand that started Brown Forman, is celebrating its 150 Anniversary of bottling bourbon which began in 1870. The project for this release began with 150 hand picked barrels, although unfortunately 3 barrels completely evaporated. When Old Forester bottles batches of bourbon without cutting it with water, they call it batch proof, rather than barrel proof, given that differing barrels go into each batch at different proofs. There are actually three different batches of this release; I got batch number 2, which is at a hefty 126.4 proof.
Color is a nice amber color, which tells me that this in a blend of barrels of various ages. While some of the barrels on the project evaporated, this whiskey does not appear by color to be 15 years or more older that would be marked by total evaporation of some of the barrels. But, upon further examination, there are some mahogany flecks in there that show that there is some pretty old bourbon in there. Old Forester got its start as a blender and bottler of bourbons from three different distilleries, until they purchased one of the three, and I think part of the project here was to blend various barrels to come up with a flavor profile, and so this is going to be different from ultra aged bourbon releases where age is the big hallmark. This bourbon is labeled as unfiltered; however, I am sure it was put through a screen to get the wood chucks out but is, thankfully, non-chill filtered.
On the swirl is a thin film with thin slow moving legs. The nose is very typical Old Forester, with heavy vanilla notes, but with dark fruits (cherries, raspberries) and herbal rye notes coming through. On the palate, heavy vanilla, cherry cordial, white chocolate bread pudding, with some herbal rye spice on the back end. The flavors are very reminiscent of Old Forester Single Barrel Barrel Proof, but with a bit more oak tannin, more complexity, and a more elegant mouthfeel and finish. The finish really lingers with some drying oak, but not too dry.
In my earlier bourbon drinking days, Old Forester was one of my go-to’s, because I happen to like its particular flavor profile. This 150th anniversary bottling definitely strikes me as Old Forester, just way amped up in an elegant way. It is very true to the Old Forester flavor profile, and benefits from no chill filtering. What makes this release outstanding and unique are the wonderful fruit notes.
However, on the value proposition, not only is this bourbon the 150th anniversary of bottled bourbon sourced from 150 barrels, it is around $150 more. So, the question is not whether it is good but is it $150 good.
If you are a fan of regular Old Forester or their Whiskey Row expressions, including the Prohibition Style, then yes, this is a unicorn bottle for your collection. But, if Old Forester is not your thing, then you may not be happy with spending this much for this bourbon. This is an exceptional bottling of Old Forester and worth $150 if you like Old Forester. However, I can’t really say this is such an exceptional bottle of bourbon for every palate, that I would pay $150 for if I didn’t really like Old Forester, much less pay secondary market prices. It is pretty oaky and tannic on the finish.
But, actions speaking louder than words, I have put this bottle on the same shelf as my Pappy and BTAC bottles.