Classification: Straight Bourbon
Distillery: Brown-Forman Shively Distillery
Release Date: Ongoing
Proof: 130-135 (Our sample’s proof wasn't given)
Mashbill: 72% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
MSRP: $80 (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. The barrel strength versions will range in proof between 130-135. 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 somewhat tame and straightforward aroma consisting of cherry cough syrup, granny smith apples, crème brûlée, and wet oak. It’s a pleasant aroma that’s easy to enjoy, but surprising for how restrained it is for the proof.
Potent with a burst of roasted pecans, thick oak, black cherries, and leather. The flavors all come at you at one speed and aren’t quite as punchy as I’d like them to be. The sip has a bold flavor overall thanks to its proof, but it's just not very exciting.
A long hot finish of pecan, seasoned oak, burnt caramel, pepper, and mild bitterness. It’s a serviceable finish that packs flavor and heat, but like the palate, it isn't very thrilling.
Old Forester has made dramatic quality improvements to their Old Forester bourbon brand over the last five years. Their Prohibition Style and Statesman bourbons have been prime examples of this change, and their new 100 proof Old Forester Single Barrel is also quite impressive.
Unfortunately, the particular single barrel I tasted at barrel strength wasn’t quite ready for prime time. All of the brightness and interesting mingling of flavors from the 100 proof single barrel didn’t carry over to the barrel strength. It's a flat wall of flavor that, despite its hotness, doesn’t translate that intensity of the flavors to the same degree. It’s by no means bad, but this particular single barrel isn’t up to the task of being a Stagg Jr. or Elijah Craig Barrel Proof replacement for me.
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.