Thanks to /u/georgejessel for sharing this whiskey with me.
I miss out on some new releases from time to time. Samples only get you so far, being stuck inside means less bars to do reviews at, and other excuses no one needs to hear.
Old Forester 1897 Bottled in Bond is part of the Old Forester Whiskey Row series. The idea being that they are celebrating the Bottled-in-Bond Act when it was passed (1897). So there’s the date. The bourbon is meant to be a tribute to the original Old Forester Bottled-in-Bond that was produced around the time the act came about.
So let’s take a second here and get something out of the way: I have yet to try 100+ year-old bourbon dusties. Sorry to burst that bubble. I’ve tried some impressive whiskies in my life and I’m not saying that to garner attention or sympathy. I am saying that I won’t be able to tell you if this is close to Old Forester of the time.
The Bottled-in-Bond Act seems like something to celebrate. It certainly leads to some nice whiskey from time to time. Is the tribute to the origin of this requirement one of them? Let’s see, shall we?
Mashbill 72% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
Colour: 7.5YR 4/8
Nose: Corn, brown sugar, cereal, pear, alcohol, cumin
You have your standard bourbon notes of corn, pear, and brown sugar. That said there’s some youthful alcohol in the mix, though not enough to take away.
The nose can be rough. There’s very little that’s “smooth” and it can be a tad hard to get into.
Eventually some earth comes out. Balances the strong sugar notes.
Taste: Melon, oak, dried leaves, molasses
Fruity, a bit vegetal, and some dry notes. Good overall flavour, though I’m looking for a bit more given the name/pedigree. Maybe it’s meant to be like this: Simple flavours that are clear.
Or maybe I’m used to other countries releasing a 50% alcohol whisky that goes that route. Who knows? What I can say is I didn’t feel any one flavour was taking over and it didn’t feel unbalanced to sweet or specific oak or bitter notes.
Finish: Orange, oak, basil, caramel, earth, cinnamon
Hey, there’s some more balanced yet additional flavours! Still somewhat rough with earthy/herbal notes. That said it branches out a decent amount and the nice line of orange from (I suspect) the high rye is a good source of acidity.
That said I’ve written my own inherent bias against the colour named fruit. The spice helps it out here so I’m not minding it as much as I typically do.
Conclusion: Decent sipper, nose was a bit rough, liked the balance on the rest, good everyday strong whiskey. If I was hunting for a daily drinker in the bourbon style with some strong alcohol this would be it. It’s not bad to sip on, and eventually you’ll get used to the nose.
This is a solid whisky to have in your collection. I could even see using it in cocktails given the balanced nature, the good types of flavours, and probably to hide the nose. Try this if you have a chance.
Bourbon review #270, Kentucky review #175, Whiskey Network review #2086