Review: Old Forester 1870

Late last year Brown-Foreman announced they will be building a $30 million distillery on Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville. Not far behind was the announcement of the “Old Forester Whiskey Row Series”, a new line of Old Forester releases consisting of four expressions. This is the first. Let’s hear what they have to say about it.

Old Forester 1870 Original Batch echoes George Garvin Brown’s original 1870 batching process. Back then, Brown batched barrels obtained from three distilleries to create a consistent flavor profile. To emulate that process today, we also select barrels from three warehouses, each barrel originating from a different day of production, with a different entry proof and a different age profile.

The three expressions of Old Forester are then batched together to craft Old Forester 1870 Original Batch. This 90-proof bourbon will be minimally filtered, to honor the processes available to George Garvin Brown at that time.

Ok, cool. So back then Mr. Brown didn’t distill his own sauce, so he batched up distillate from three different sources. Now, however, since Brown-Foreman has some big ol’ distilleries they just batch from barrels from three different warehouses. While that’s neat and all, the really cool stuff about this is about who blended those batches.

Marianne Barnes worked under Brown-Foreman’s Master Distiller, Chris Morris, and this is the first release she blended. This makes this bourbon the first one blended by a woman in the modern era. While I would like to sit here and write about her, how cool she is, and how I want to be friends with her, I would rather just link to the article from which I got my info so you can read it from a legit journalist that actually got to talk to these people. She has since moved on and will be the Master Distiller for the revival of the distillery located at the former Old Taylor location. It’ll be very cool to see what she produces from her next gig.

Bonus points: Watch this freaking cool drone video of the Old Taylor distilery

Company: Brown-Foreman

Distillery: Brown-Foreman

Location: Shively, Kentucky

Mashbill: 72% corn/18% rye/10% barely

Age: NAS

ABV: 45% (90 proof)

Released: Early 2015

Price: $42

Color: Bright amber

Nose: The fruit on this nose is the first thing that jumps out at you. There is so much bright, sweet, berry/red fruit aroma on this it’s crazy. There is some vanilla and toffee hanging out behind the fruit, but it’s a little hard for me to find much else…so much fruity goodness.

Taste: That fruit follows to the palate in a very big way. The taste doesn’t have a dry molecule to it, nothing but vibrant fruit notes and vanilla sweetness. If you look for it, you can totally pull the oak out (I almost said “wood” instead of “oak”, you’re welcome) of the profile, but even if you do it doesn’t bring any dry element like I normally expect.

Finish: Finally, a little bit of oaky dryness. The finish still holds that fruit juice sweetness, but the oak shows up to balance the show a bit. You are, however, still definitely left with the sweetness being the main star here as this one fades.

Overall: This is a very sweet, very easy to drink bourbon. While there is definitely a time and a place for that style, I prefer a bit more balance and a bit more complexity. Don’t get me wrong, I like this stuff, but I think the next three expressions in this line are going to really let this series shine. So far they have also released the “1897”, a bottled in bond expression (it hasn’t hit the shelves here yet, go Oklahoma!), and rumored are the “1917″, a double barreled bourbon, and the “1923”, clocking it at 125 proof. If I were to read all four of those titles without trying them I would say that the “1870” would sound the least exciting, so given that I will be 100% trying to get my hands on each bottle in this line.

Rating: 3.5/5


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