I’m a loyal fan to the Old Forester Birthday Bourbon series – every year I look forward to its release and each year it is surprising and interesting in a different way. However, I’ve somehow never managed to try their main release. Old Forester claims to be America’s first bottled bourbon, and if I remember my Cowdery correctly, this is a result of George Brown desiring to guarantee the quality of the ‘medicinal’ bourbon he sold. By bottling only the spirit from barrels that met his standards, his customers/patients could be assured that they were getting the good stuff by making sure to purchase his personally signed bottles.
At first glance the recently redesigned bottle in front of me makes some allusions to this history, hopefully it will measure up to its Birthday brethren.
– 86 proof
– Made by Brown-Forman
The Old Forester bottle has a simple, round, and reasonably tall base and a slightly bulbed neck leading to a small mouth. The front label is dominated by a red and cream diamond in the center with the brand name and the proclamation of being America’s first bottled bourbon. Behind this in pale gold script are some hyperbolic lines about the bourbon. In most cases this is nothing special, but on Old Forester it recalls the original use of bottles to convey the legitimacy of the product it contains. Just as George Brown presumably inscribed his bottles with descriptions of its quality – so too today. Over all the bottle looks fresh and appealing.
The nose on Old Forester is strong but smooth. The dominant scent is of sweet orange – almost like orange soda. Behind that is some combination of oatmeal, oak, and maybe cinnamon. That sweetness is not nearly as strong upon tasting. There is a spark of it at he very beginning, but it quickly flips to a dry grain and oak profile that disappears quickly leaving a light, oaky (with a touch of that spice) finish.
This certainly does not live up to the Birthday Bourbon releases, but that would really have been too much to expect for something at this price. I do wish that the flavor profile would have matched the far more appealing nose, though. I think this is not quite the type of bourbon I’d regularly sip on its own, but I wouldn’t hesitate to use it in my Old Fashioneds and Manhattans.