Old Forester’s product line seemed to have a gap in it between the newly released single barrel line (that now includes an option to bottle at barrel proof) and the extremely limited President’s Choice single barrel line. The Old Forester Single Barrels are aged anywhere from 4-5 years and the President’s Choice line was aged 8 years or longer. So although it may not have been designed to fill this void, Old Forester tapped into a small batch of about 150 barrels aged anywhere from 6 to 8 years old to create their 150th Anniversary release.
Led by Jackie Zykan, the tasters went through each barrel and grouped them into three distinct profiles. I noted in my review of Batch 3 that although I could certainly pull out Old Forester traits within, that the batch tasted more like a high-rye bourbon profile found in MGP products. What surprises would Batch 1 show me? There’s only one way to find out. I sampled this bottle neat and in a Glencairn.
Nose: Notes of dark brown sugar and flan start off strongly before transitioning to fruit scents that at the beginning, made me think of cherries and plums. But there was something unique about the fruits that made the scent come off like they were sugared or candied. Other times it reached a point where the scent was almost artificial, like a Fruit by the Foot strip. Whatever it was, it was definitely unique and I had a hard time putting my finger on it. Buttery caramel sauce and cinnamon kept the remainder of the scents slightly spicy and rich.
Palate: Flat Cherry Coke laced with peppery spice floods the tongue while a very sweet and seasoned oak flavor balances it out perfectly. The flavors become even more rich with pieces of dark chocolate, raspberries and toffee hitting hard with every sip. Honestly, the cherries and red fruit on the tongue made my mind reflect back on the last few batches of Stagg Jr. I’ve had while that amazing oak flavor with dark chocolate took my mind to William Larue Weller. I’m in heaven.
Finish: Lifesavers “Wild Cherry” flavors coupled with raisins keep the finish tilted more towards fruity than oaky, which is surprising for an Old Forester product. The oak and cinnamon-stick is still present long after the sip is complete but it gets progressively dryer. This creates an effect where there is sweetness initially in the finish, but it’s snuffed out by the dry oak quickly afterwards.
While some readers may roll their eyes at my score being only a tenth of a point off of being rated “Incredible,” it should not be taken as a slight or insult. This bottle is really very delicious and I’d happily drink it until the day I die if I had an unlimited amount. I can also confidently say that it is worth every penny of its $150 price point. What’s more shocking was how many Buffalo Trace flavors and scents that this mimicked. It was almost as if a Stagg Jr, GTS and WLW were blended together.
But the finish was a bit too dry and took away from the overall enjoyment by just a little bit to bring the score down. Your mileage may vary when you taste this, but if you’re ever offered a bottle at retail or even a bit more, this is worth every penny. Well done, Old Forester. You’ve really excelled at these releases.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
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