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Tuesday, September 19, 2006

Tuesday Tasting: Old Forester Bourbon

Tuesday Tasting is a regular feature of Lyke2Drink that explores some of the best beers, wines and spirits on the market. This week we head to Kentucky to taste one of the most storied brands of Bourbon.

Old Forester lays claim to the title of being the first bottled Bourbon. Before 1870, if you wanted Bourbon you had to find a tavern with a keg or a pharmacist. Unfortunately, after barrels had left distilleries they went to rectifiers, who often would add water to stretch the Bourbon and flavor and coloring agents such as tobacco and cumin to hide the fact it had been diluted.

George Garvin Brown began bottling Bourbon and signing each bottle as a guarantee of quality. Brown was a pharmaceutical salesman who listened to doctors and druggists who complained that the whisky they prescribed as medicine had been tampered with, so he decided to launch Old Forester in sealed bottles to guarantee quality.

Fast forward 136 years and Brown-Forman Corp. is placing renewed emphasis behind the Old Forester label. Besides the 86-proof blended Old Forester Bourbon, the company is marketing Old Forester Birthday Bourbon and Old Forester Signature.

For this tasting we sampled the 2005 and 2006 editions of Birthday Bourbon – both from the 1993 vintage – and the Old Forester Signature Bourbon.

Old Forester 2005 Birthday Bourbon: Less than 7,000 bottles of this 95 proof whisky were released on Sept. 2, 2005, in honor of George Garvin Brown’s birthday. The whisky is a beautiful copper color. It has a sweet, maple nose. There are nice hints of oak and vanilla in the flavor profile, with bits of pepper.

Old Forester 2006 Birthday Bourbon: Less than 8,500 bottles of this 95 proof whisky were released on Sept. 2, 2006. Master Distiller Chris Morris selects the barrels to be used in the vintage Bourbon from a single day’s distilling. This whisky aged one additional year than the 2005 version. It has a slightly browner tone in color. The vanilla aroma combines with notes of caramel and orange. The flavor has bits of orange peel, spice, mint and nuts in the finish.

Old Forester Signature Kentucky Straight Bourbon: This is a brownish-orange colored 100-proof whisky that has a maple nose and a great smoky flavor profile. There is a nice caramel and nut flavor base throughout. A firm flavor profile sets this whisky apart from the everyday drink.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I have been a bourbon drinker for 40+ years. I have enjoyed many of the "higher end" brands and have always enjoyed Makers Mark as my daily drinker. I purchased a bottle of Old Forester 2006 Birthday Bourbon after seeing a review in Wine Spectator.
This, in my opinion, is the finest tasting, smoothest bourbon I have ever had the pleasure of drinking. I have over the past couple weeks managed to find 5 bottles at various local liquor stores, which I scooped up immediately. If you really enjoy bourbon, give this one a try.