Classification: Straight Bourbon
Distillery: Brown-Forman Shively Distillery
Release Date: Ongoing
Mashbill: 72% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
MSRP: $50 (2020)
Brown-Forman announced in early 2019 they would be “enhancing” their retailer single barrel program. Old Forester’s 90 proof single barrel will no longer be available, instead replaced with a 100 proof and barrel strength single barrel versions. Bottles will also sport a redesigned bottle label that more closely resembles the brand's design since 2015. Jackie Zykan, Old Forester master taster, said in the company's press release, “...we wanted to be able to share how special some of these barrels are when the product inside is tasted in raw form.”
A wonderful rich nose of butterscotch, cherry, vanilla, and oak. I was taken aback at how potent it is for the proof, which isn’t a bad thing since it’s a delicious aroma.
A well-crafted palate that balances oak and its sweeter side well. Wet oak and light pecan provide a weighted base that allows the caramel, maple syrup, and cherry coke flavors to nicely play off of them. Quite enjoyable.
Like many Old Forester bourbons before this, pepper, clove, and seasoned oak dominate. This leaves a mild aftertaste of dankiness and slight bitterness. It doesn't have as impactful of a finish as it does in the small batch, but unfortunately it’s present once again.
In my Old Forester Signature Bourbon review I wrote about the drastic improvements the people behind Old Forester have made to their bourbon over the last few years. In this particular single barrel, I found it to have a little bit thinner mouthfeel than the small batch, but it didn’t matter as the flavors are more vibrant than those of the small batch overall.
To be frank, I never thought much of Old Forester single barrel selections. The brand didn’t come off as exciting and I wasn’t willing to take a chance on a more expensive single barrel version. I still have an Old Forester single barrel selection from years ago that remains pretty forgettable. Of course single barrels vary, but I’m impressed with what I tasted with this latest one, and it falls in line with what I’ve tasted overall from the brand lately. It started with the Old Forester Whiskey Row series, then the standard Old Forester bourbon saw a quality increase. It’s been getting better and better and I’m definitely willing to take a chance on an Old Forester single barrel bottle now.
The sample used for this review was provided at no cost courtesy of Brown-Forman. We thank them for the sample and for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.