Classification: Straight Bourbon
Distillery: Brown-Forman Shively Distillery
Released: October 2018
Mashbill: 72% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
Color: Dark Bronze
MSRP: $55 (2018)
Old Forester 1910 is the fourth and final expression in the Whiskey Row series. First launched in 2014, the series consists of Old Forester 1870 Original Batch, Old Forester 1897 Bottled in Bond, and Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style.
According to Brown-Forman “1910 Old Fine Whisky represents a specific point in Old Forester’s nearly 150-year-old history. In October 1910, a fire caused the bottling line to be shut down for an indefinite period of time. Complicating matters, there was a vat of mature whisky waiting to be bottled. Otherwise facing ruin, this whisky was instead stored in new, charred oak containers to rest until the line could be repaired.” This double barreling was the first such documented of its kind and led to it gaining the name Old Fine Whisky.
In order to produce 1910, standard Old Forester has undergone a second barreling in a lightly toasted, heavily charred barrel. “Mature Old Forester enters a second barrel at 100 proof, just as it did in 1910,” said Old Forester Master Taster Jackie Zykan. “The second barrel is charred nearly to the point of incineration.”
Oaky and lightly sweet. Rich caramel leads the way with an undertone of vanilla, fresh baked cake, frosting, and a dab of sweet pecans. A light layer of rich oak rounds it out. It’s subtle yet easy to appreciate and foreshadows the rest of the sip. I found the nose continued to become more and more enjoyable as I let the pour sit in the glass. This is one bourbon that you’ll want to take your time with when drinking.
Old Forester 1910 delivers a nice, thick and chewy mouthfeel. The sugars from the char are really evident. The palate is sickly sweet with a heavy layer of burnt caramel and vanilla. Hidden deep beneath are dark berries along with toasted marshmallows. All of these flavors rest upon a layer of oak. It’s amazing how viscous the mouthfeel is. It’s not incredibly deep in terms of flavor range, however it’s extremely enjoyable.
While oak played a role in the nose and palate, oak is front and center in the finish. A dominating flavor of charred oak leads the charge and is intermingled with a light dose of caramel and vanilla. These sweeter flavors fade and are replaced with dry leather and light cigar box. These flavors linger for an unusually long time. It’s a satisfying finish and one that makes you realize how well this bourbon might pair with a cigar.
The Whiskey Row series has been a great experiment in showing just how different Old Forester can taste when varying the proof and aging conditions. Old Forester 1910 is no exception to this, and delivers another unique tasting experience that’s completely different from the rest of the series. The first question most will ask themselves, is how does this hold up to the fantastic Old Forester 1920? I have to admit, that this question lingered in my mind as I started this review until I realized that this isn’t the comparison that Old Forester 1910 deserves.
Unlike in 1910 when Old Forester first pioneered the concept of double barreling bourbon, this technique is now more widely used today. In fact, Brown-Forman embraced this same technique when they launched Woodford Reserve Double Oaked. When comparing the two, it’s interesting to see just how much more of an impact the double barreling had on Old Forester 1910 versus Woodford Double Oaked. I find Double Oaked to be a very enjoyable product, but Old Forester 1910 seems to deliver an enhanced sip in most areas. The charred barrel impact is very evident in both the sweetness delivered in the palate and the consistent oak flavoring throughout the sip. Surprisingly, the oak isn’t overdone, which results in a rich overall sip and lingering oaky finish.
This is the second highest priced bottle in the Whiskey Row series. However don’t let that fool you. This entire series is separated by only $15 from the cheapest to the most expensive. Kudos should be given to Brown-Forman for making the entire series affordable for most.
In comparison to the aforementioned Woodford Double Oaked, the $10 price premium feels justified for the elevated product you’re getting. Anything above MSRP would be pricing this too high, but at this price, you’re able to still enjoy a rich, albeit oaky, bourbon for under $60. While it’s tempting to pay $5 more for Old Forester 1920, you’d also be buying a totally different tasting product and missing out on the experience Old Forester 1910 delivers in its own right.
The last expression in the Whiskey Row series delivers a uniquely satisfying experience that stands out among both its siblings and other double barreled expressions at large.
For some, this release may find the extreme char may be too much. Oak is predominant throughout the entire sip and lingers for a long time once the sip ends. However I find this to be Old Forester 1910’s main selling point. The oak influence comes off as refined and sweet and doesn’t come across as dry until the very end. It’s a nice deviation from other double barreled products on the market and one that finds a nice place in the Whiskey Row series lineup.
OId Forester 1910 had high expectations to live up to. It was saved as the last expression in the Whiskey Row series and it came after the highly adored Old Forester 1920. Despite not quite living up to the same bang for your buck that Old Forester 1920 delivers, it does succeed in delivering a unique sip that’s very enjoyable in its own right.
The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Brown-Forman. We thank them for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.