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).
I’ve also reviewed the 1920 Prohibition and 100 Proof editions.
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.
Old Forester is one of the bourbon staples, in my untrained opinion you are once again looking for qualities you find in scotch, bourbon usually has a younger corn feel to it, and that comes from the younger age of bourbon. Wild Turkey 101 is an amazing whiskey and very much my daily pour if i had one.
Garret, I think there’s good “young corn”, and bad “young corn”. As you can see on this review, I don’t have a blanket bad opinion of cheap bourbon: //scotchnoob.com/2013/07/15/old-grand-dad-bourbon-40-abv/ My experience with the Old Forester sample that I had was bad. That either means the sample came from a bad batch (some companies, I think, do this intentionally thinking they can rid themselves of bad liquor by offloading it to airline bottles, but I think this backfires when people use 50ml samples to try out products before buying them), or it means my personal tastes didn’t align with this one. Either way, I have tasted enough bourbon now (finally) to know what I’m looking for.