Oh Taste & See: Old Forester Bourbon

Old Forester is one of the oldest names in the world of bourbon, but until recently it wasn't widely available here in Pennsylvania. Recently though I started seeing it on shelves at the state stores, and at $18.99 it seemed like it might be a good deal so I picked up a bottle. It's a rye-heavy bourbon, probably 4 to 5 years old, and bottled at 86 proof. Unfortunately when I started drinking it I was a bit disappointed. I can certainly recommend bourbons that I like better in the same price range - Four Roses and Buffalo Trace for example.

Old Forester is made in Louisville by Brown Forman, and I have to say I like their other value-price bourbon - Early Times 354 - a lot better, although it still isn't widely available nationwide. I have met people who swear by Old Forester, and it seems to work fine as a mixer, so maybe I'm being too hard on it. I will also say that I tried the latest Old Forester Birthday Bourbon a few weeks ago at Time and it was very nice - rich, fruity, and packing a nice punch without being too boozy, but that's a true premium bourbon at double the price. In any case, my notes on Old Forester are below.

Color: Old Forester is standard young-bourbon color - medium-to-dark golden brown with a light, thin look as you swirl it in the glass.

Nose: The main element on the nose is ethanol - a boozy character that doesn't fade away at all until you add ice or water. It's an overall clean nose with just a hint of grain silo dust and charcoal. Adding ice cools down the ethanol, but also hides the other aromas leaving a flat nose.

Flavor: The main flavor element is heat and spice, both the burn of harsh alcohols and the peppery spice of rye, showing up mainly in the back of the mouth. Up front this bourbon is flat and lacks any distinct flavors. Adding ice brings out a bit of earthy funk that I didn't really like.

Finish: The finish has some hope with a medium-length, spicy fade-out with a just a bit of burn in the throat. While some 100 proof bourbons can be easy sippers, this one manages to be harsh and overly boozy at just 86 proof.