In late 2020, Old Forester announced they would be releasing three batches of a special batch proof whiskey to commemorate the 150th anniversary of George Garvin Brown’s historic act of bottling his famous Old Forester whiskey.
For this commemorative release, 150 barrels were chosen and set aside by Master Distiller Chris Morris. The barrels were aged and then individually tasted by Master Taster Jackie Zykan, who separated them into three distinct batches, a nod to Brown’s original process of blending his whiskey. Interestingly, only 147 barrels were actually available for batching as 3 of the barrels were completely lost to the angels! Each batch is comprised of roughly an equal number of barrels and is bottled at batch proof, with Batch #3 coming in at the highest proof of 126.8 (63.4% abv).
This whiskey is made from a mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley and was aged for an unknown period of time. This is a review of Batch #1, bottle #6180, which comes in at 125.6 proof (62.8% abv). The suggested retail price for this bottle is $150.
Appearance – dark orange amber with a nice, thick viscosity in the glass (Glencairn).
Nose – a fair amount of ethanol emanates from the glass so a little air time is definitely helpful for this pour. After a few minutes, the ethanol tapers off and I found rich caramel, oak char, a dense layer of a somewhat floral rye spice, heavy cinnamon, and a prominent note of overripe banana.
Palate – this whiskey has a thick viscosity from the first sip, but the rye character of the whiskey really stands out. A punch of peppery rye spice is present almost immediately as well as a pleasant amount of alcohol burn. The spice is nicely balanced, however, with some dark, smoky caramel, sweet tobacco, and some notes of stewed dark fruit.
Finish – the finish is long and lingering, with plenty of that sharp rye spice and burn present. There is also plenty of toasted oak, caramel, a hint of candied ginger, and the slightest amount of citrus. The finish is slightly tannic but toasted oak note really lingers and draws you back in for another sip.
Overall – I will be the first to admit that I get excited any time I see a special release coming from Old Forester because I have never been disappointed. I enjoy all iterations of this coveted brand and I am always impressed with the creativity and blending prowess that is exemplified in these releases. Batch #1 of the 150th Anniversary Bourbon is no exception to this rule!
This whiskey may be a little hot, revealing quite a bit of ethanol on the nose and palate, but the overall profile is very well-balanced and flavorful. This whiskey has a wonderful viscosity and plenty of rich, sweet flavors that blend nicely with the rye-forward profile that initially presents on the palate. The finish is also pleasantly long and warm, leaving a wonderful toasted oak note that draws you back for another sip. Given my preference for high proof whiskey and my experience with the first batch, I am excited to start hunting for Batch #2 and #3, both of which come in at a higher proof. I don’t think you can go wrong with this release! Cheers y’all!