Review #14 - Old Forester 150th Anniversary Batch 01, 02, & 03
From Old Forester’s Press Release:
“In 1870, George Garvin Brown changed the spirits industry forever when he sealed and sold his whisky – Old Forester – exclusively in a glass bottle. Each bottle was adorned with his signature, a personal guarantee of the brand’s quality and consistency. Today, 150 years later, Old Forester announces the upcoming release of Old Forester 150th Anniversary Bourbon to commemorate his act of ingenuity, honor his legacy and celebrate the history of the First Bottled BourbonTM. Old Forester 150th Anniversary Bourbon references George’s original process, composed of three batches, unfiltered and each presented at individual batch strength. The limited release is presented in an amber glass bottle, reminiscent of the hand-blown glass of George’s day, and will come in a commemorative canister.”
Old Forester special releases are something that I consistently hunt for, so when this announcement was made, I knew that I would be shoveling out at least the $150 MSRP for each of the three bottles if the opportunity arose. I was lucky enough to land each one, and since then just waited for an opportunity to taste. Originally, I opened all three in early November with some friends, but that was part of a long night and I did not take any tasting notes. Now, with the holidays fully upon us and the weather cooling down (by New Orleans standards) I decided it was high time to revisit these batch proof pours.
The pour sat in a glencairn for a little prior to tasting, but the bottles have been open about 6 weeks. Scores are between 1 (drain), 2 (finish but wouldn’t order at a bar), 3 (solid pour), 4 (actively seek out) and 5 (whatever it takes).
Old Forester 150th Anniversary Batch 1
Age: NAS, comprised of 46 barrels
First whiff and I feel like I can smell the creaminess of the pour. There is some oakiness there, but I immediately get the traditional Brown Foreman banana scent and eventually all I can think of is fresh baked banana bread. 4
It’s immediately full bodied and oily – exactly what I prefer in a pour. I originally get a few tannins but this quickly settles into oaky maple as I continue sipping. 3.5
The 125.6 proof is evident as I start to swallow as the heat comes initially with mint and spice. Vanilla cream accompanies this heat at the tail end and lingers just long enough 3
Old Forester 150th Anniversary Batch 2
Age: NAS, comprised of 48 barrels
It smells so sweet. I’m getting notes of maple, caramel, and melted butter. It’s like a giant stack of pancakes just covered in syrup. I could whiff this all day. 5
It’s medium in the mouth and not as oily as Batch 1, however, it’s softer and creamier. Light and toasty with notes of cinnamon. 4
The finish is buttery cream for me again and goes down easy despite the proof. I pick up some cinnamon spice and can feel the heat on my breath back up. It just feels a bit one note and left me wanting more. 3
Old Forester 150th Anniversary Batch 3
Age: NAS, comprised of 53 barrels
Light and fruity. My mother would make this fruit salad when I was a kid and that’s what this brings me back to – stone fruit, citrus, and marshmallow. 4
First sip has a robust feel in the mouth but not the oily viscosity. I get some dark fruits and brown sugar in there that bring me to blackberry cobbler. 4
There is some woodiness there that turns to cinnamon spice as you begin to swallow, and it leaves a light tingling sensation in the form of licorice. 4
From memory, I recall that I enjoyed Batch 2>3>1 and the scores bear this out. However, from that initial tasting with my friends, each of us preferred a different batch. These bottles are quality, and you can’t go wrong if you find any of them at MSRP.
Each of these batches were well-rounded and unique. This was a well-done release and I love how Chris Morris and Jackie Zykan really leaned into the 150th theme; only problem is trying to get retailers to stick to that price!