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Updated October 25th: A recent photograph emerged on social media showing the first bottles of Old Forester 1924 being filled in the bottling room at their Whiskey Row location. Does that get us any closer to understanding when it will come out?
Well if this social media post (see below) that came out from the Bourbon Crusaders tells us anything, it’s that as of November 18th, they will be pouring this exact bottle at their VIP event. This leads me to believe the first bottles for sale at retail locations will begin showing up in certain markets as early as Thanksgiving. This is all still speculation, but I think it’s a safe assumption you can put 1924 on your Christmas list to Santa this year. Having a person give it to you instead of keeping it for themselves is another story, haha!
Previously posted in April with other updates: I cannot believe my eyes. Is this real? Are we really getting a 10 year old bourbon from Old Forester? According to this this TTB filing the answer seems to be yes! In celebration of the 100th year of Owsley Brown blending together barrels of different mash bills at his downtown Louisville location and bottling them under the Old Forester name, Old Forester has chosen to create a special bottling.
Based on the year that this happened (1924), we can only assume that we won’t see this release until next year in 2024. I could be wrong about that as producers don’t always have to wait on the exact date of a historical event to commemorate it. Lag in shipping and distribution make it this way.
Let’s talk about that age statement
Old Forester is different from the other Kentucky distilleries. They have 7 brick warehouses (and an eighth that was torn down – the metal-clad Warehouse O) that are all heat cycled. Heat cycling is an expensive process that involves steam heat and heaters to obtain a set temperature. This will artificially mature the barrels even through winter – a time when other distillery’s barrels typically go dormant.
What does that mean? The average age of an Old Forester barrel is around 4 to 6 years old. But they will taste like a 7 or 8 year old barrel from another distillery. This has been the way things have been at Old Forester for decades.
There are some exceptions, of course. Old Forester’s Birthday Bourbon has consisted of barrels aged between 10 to 12 years old. King of Kentucky barrels are aged between 14 and 18 years old. And President’s Choice barrels are aged anywhere from 6 to 10 years old. All 3 achieved their ages in different ways. Birthday Bourbon and President’s Choice are left in the heat-cycled warehouses their whole life but King of Kentucky has typically been removed around the 7 year mark and put into (the non-heat cycled) Warehouse O for 7 to 10 more. This was done to control evaporation.
All 3 of those examples are very limited because of how hard it is to avoid runaway evaporation rates. So how does Old Forester suddenly have excess 10 year old barrels? I talk about it in my article detailing every Brown-Forman Warehouse. What it boils down to is that Brown-Forman has secretly turned off the heat cycling elements to two of their seven warehouses. This is where I think the barrels that make up 1924 have been located for a number of years now. You should read the full article to understand the reasoning why they wanted to do that in the first place.
As a final note: the label on this Old Forester product hints to the fact that Old Forester may be blending together barrels of Old Forester’s mash bill (72/18/10) and the Early Times mash bill (79/11/10). Both use different yeast strains which result in different flavor profiles.
And to those of you who are wondering – yes – Brown Forman is still apparently making the Early Times mash bill albeit at a much lower rate now that the brand was sold to Sazerac. They now call it the “King of Kentucky Mash Bill.” There is another secret that isn’t talked about much, but it involves what happens to the old barrels destined to be King of Kentucky bourbon, but fail to make it through the final quality control process. The answer is that they slowly blend these rejects into the Cooper’s Craft line of bourbon. I wouldn’t be surprised at all if almost-KoK barrels are what is being put into Old Forester 1924!
The movement towards higher age statements is arriving sooner than we think
There’s another label that’s coming out in the next 2 months that shows us that Old Forester 1924 might not be some short-lived release of barrels that Old Forester just “forgot about” and allowed to age for 10 years.
Old Forester 117 Series looks like it’ll have a 9 year old age stated (bottled-in-bond) label coming out in July. The 117 Series is a distillery-only release, so we can expect it to be a rather limited affair, but it still shows a trend in age statements.
I personally can’t wait to see some experimentation coming our way from Kentucky’s most iconic distilleries. It’s about time! Now let’s just hope that 1924 won’t be some super-allocated release so please, don’t share this article with anyone else!
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