Monthly Archives: January 2010

Old Forester

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.


– $24ish

– 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.

Over all:

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.


Cornelius Applejack

It’s been too long since my last post, but I’ve got something I’m excited about to kick off the new year: Cornelius Applejack.  Anyone who has read a few entries on this blog has no doubt encountered the fact that I am a big fan of American apple brandies and take every opportunity to try one.  So, seeing this new entry at Astor Wines a couple weeks ago made my day.

Cornelius is made by Harvest Spirits – whose Pear Brandy I’ve written about before – located in upstate New York, which also happens to produce an incredible volume of apples every year making it the perfect place to produce an apple brandy.  The last I’d checked their site, this was still not in production, but apparently I’m not the first to get my hands on it: my bottle numbered batch 2, bottle 55.  Hopefully it will live up to my excitement!


– $40ish

– 80 proof

– Made by Harvest Spirits


Though a standard 750ml, the bottle does seem heftier than most on the shelf.  This is probably a result of the cylindrical shape that narrows slightly toward the bottom.  The edges are clean and sharp and the text almost gets lost among the pale yellow/brown of the contents.  What ends up standing out most is the bottle numbering at the base as it’s the only completely opaque and sizable element.

Instead of having text on the back as most liquors do, Cornelius has a few sentences of description running down the side.  It tells us of the applejack’s namesake, a bit about the production (distilled cider, aged like bourbon), and very defiantly that there is no added grain alcohol – lest anyone think this is Laird’s Applejack.  Overall this is an attractive bottle that places a good amount of emphasis on its contents rather than showmanship.


I’m surprised how pale this is, so I think it must not have spent too much time in that charred white oak.  It does, however, smell very much like a bourbon: a dry, spicy char to the nose with a bit of dry grasses and honey in there and (of course) apple.

On tasting, it opens fairly sweet but not so much with apples; it’s more of a strawberry flavor in that first impression.  This gently melts into an oakiness with strong vanilla streak that spreads out across your entire mouth.  The finish is long for an apple brandy and medium-spicy.  Their triple distillation really comes through in the silky smoothness throughout the whole experience.

Over all:

Wow.  I was not expecting this at all.  This is a fantastic spirit, but it tastes like no other apple-based spirit I’ve ever had.  This is more like a very smooth, friendly vanilla-centric bourbon with just the right amount of spice and heat at the end to make it interesting.  I really am impressed with Cornelius.  Hopefully Astor will re-stock it soon!