After very much enjoying the Evan Williams Single Barrel earlier this week, I move now to a sample that has been sitting in the back of my cabinet for awhile. Here’s a bottom-shelf brand, in a plastic 50ml miniature (often a bad sign): Old Forester Kentucky Straight Bourbon. First bottled in 1873, it was the first bourbon ever to be bottled by the whiskey maker and sold in sealed bottles (most whiskey at the time was sold in barrels to retailers, who would bottle it themselves, sometimes after doctoring or diluting the product).
Nose: Sharp, young, with elements of sweet corn, black cherry, and old oak. A splash of water does nothing to improve.
Palate: Mild burn which doesn’t really resolve. Continues to be sharp and young-tasting, even when notes of bitter almond, dried apricot, and musty hay emerge. Luckily, a splash of water dulls a lot of the burn, letting some of the sweeter flavors come through. A sparse but nice assortment of dried fruits, nuts, and jams.
Finish: Short, mostly wood tannin and barrel char, maybe a few fading nutty flavors and a little cherry preserve.
Not particularly brash, but also not particularly complex or interesting. The oak comes through, but without much vanilla to balance it. There aren’t any higher fruity notes either. Mostly a muddy, indistinct “bourbon-ness”. This is a very inexpensive whiskey (BevMo has it for $13 a bottle), but there are several other value whiskeys with more flavor: Wild Turkey 101 (review upcoming) for one. That said, if you have some Old Forester to drink and want it neat, a few splashes of water go a long way and vastly improve the available flavors on the palate. I don’t like ice on (even bad) whiskey, but that might be an option too.