If you have over 50 bottles in your whiskey cabinet or closet, I’m sure you have a way you like to organize them so you know right where to go when the mood strikes you. For me, I have dedicated spots for my single barrels.
They’re split up so I can easily pick through them depending on what speaks to me that evening. These sections are broken down into Four Roses Private Selections, Russell’s Reserve Single Barrels, Knob Creek Single Barrels, Belle Meade Single Barrels, Whistlepig Single Barrels and finally Old Forester Single Barrels.
What draws me to pick up a bottle of Old Forester Single Barrel (and I’m mainly talking the Barrel Strength kind) is when I’m looking for a big punch of flavor in my glass.
That’s easy to do when all of my barrel strength single barrels range from 122 proof up to 135 proof. Old Forester single barrels also pack a significant amount of oak, spice and chocolate.
I’m not necessarily drawn to Old Forester to find fruit flavors, but I sure don’t mind when they’re there.
Reddit’s r/Bourbon sub selected this single barrel
Today’s review focuses on the 2022 r/bourbon pick of a single barrel that came from Warehouse K, Floor 6. Warehouse K shares a common wall with Warehouse L at the Brown Forman distillery (formerly Early Times Distillery).
Warehouse K is heat-cycled and is 8 floors tall (all of the warehouses are 8 stories tall though). Technically, each “floor” only has ricks that are 3 barrels tall.
It’s an interesting layout concept where it seems as if a secondary floor splits a 6-barrel-tall rick horizontally in half – this probably makes it easier to load and unload barrels.
While I haven’t read anything on the age of this barrel, I assume that it’s around 4.5 years old. This is typical of Old Forester single barrels or Old Forester products in general. The taste profile it gains from being heat cycled ends up making it come off as if it’s been aged 6 to 8 years.
This single barrel comes in at 128.7 proof which is almost 4 proof points higher than it went into the barrel at. I’ve noticed that starting right around floor 5, these barrels come out of the warehouse having gained proof.
If they’ve been stored on floors 1 through 4, they’ll usually lose proof. My observations tell me that for every floor above 4, a barrel will gain an average of 1.5 proof points while every floor below 5 will lose the same amount.
But enough about numbers, let’s find out how this pick tastes! A big thank you to Brad who shared this with me. I sampled this neat in a glencairn.
Nose: Just as I had hoped, the nose on this one is delightfully oaky. That’s not the only tannic scent I find either because there’s plenty of leather and barrel char in the mix. The nose has a cream/butter sort of scent that is unique and likeable.
Baking spices are a bit more muted on this one with nutmeg standing out more than the cinnamon, which likes to hide in the background. And while I normally don’t find too many fruit notes in Old Forester single barrels, I’m happy to find a bit of dehydrated apple slices – the kind you’d find in a homemade trail mix.
Palate: Finding oak on the first sip is a good omen. This is classic Old Forester. The brown sugar sweetness has the sensation of being a little burnt. Chocolate can be found, but in the form of cocoa powder more than bar form.
It does mix with the fruit scent of cherries and gives it a little similarity to a cherry cordial. Speaking of fruits, I find dried apricot pieces, apple butter and figs as well. Those are awesome flavors just on their own but really amp up this experience.
Rounding out the sip and giving it a lot of depth are cinnamon, clove and anise. It’s all the more I could want in an Old Forester pick.
Finish: The oak remains a constant throughout, including on the finish. The finish is a bit more complex and I was thinking it would be (a good thing!) with notes of chocolate and fig newtons cookies.
I wouldn’t call it a “sweet” finish, but there’s just enough to not take away from the more delicate flavors like vanilla. Lingering mint and anise flavors hints to the high-rye mash bill used and gingerbread flavors put an exclamation point on the whole sip.
The nose was easily one of the most impressive parts about this bottle. Classic bourbon done right with just enough oak and spice that made me want to keep sniffing the glass long after it was gone.
The rye character of this bourbon was also impressive. Sometimes I don’t get that in Old Forester products even though they carry one of the higher percentages of rye among the main Kentucky distilleries.
The reason why this didn’t score higher was only because I felt as if the flavors I picked up on weren’t as cohesive as I’ve had in other bourbons.
The flavors seemed to take turns letting themselves known on my tongue rather than tasting layered and complimentary. It’s tough to explain but this is a trait I’ve found with other bourbons in the past and usually additional maturation takes care of it.
Old Forester Single Barrel picks are thankfully showing no signs of slowing down. I see a new barrel drop locally about once every two months which is the perfect rate to scoop one up when a bottle is finished.
I do find there to be enough of a difference between the warehouses so garner some fandom among them, and Warehouse K is a favorite of many including myself. At about $100 per bottle, these aren’t cheap, but they’re also not so overpriced that I wouldn’t recommend them to others.
If you like your bourbons to have a lot of barrel influence, picks like this one should be high on your list.
*Bourbon Culture is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.