Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by the party behind it. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review. It should also be noted that by clicking the buy link in this review our site receives a small referral payment which helps to support, but not influence, our editorial and other costs.
From Old Forester comes a recent collaboration with the famous King Ranch in Texas, and fittingly, it is only in that aforementioned state that the bourbon is available. Intended as an homage to the history and grit of Richard King’s now-legendary enterprise, the bourbon is a blended whiskey aged in heavily charred barrels for a deep and dusty flavor profile representative of the Texan landscape itself.
King Ranch was officially founded in 1853 as just that—a ranch which primarily concerned itself with cattle and horses. Its owner and proprietor Richard King (July 10, 1824 – April 14, 1885) went on to make his fortune selling cattle to the Confederate forces during the American Civil War and participating in the Cotton Road trade route (an arrangement wherein Confederate cotton was exported for sale in Mexico due to the loss of northern buyers.)
In his essay Slaves and Rebels: The Peculiar Institution in Texas 1861-1865,James Marten writes of the slaves owned by King and put to work on the ranch: “When Union troops invaded South Texas and tried to entice slaves away from the King Ranch, a Houston newspaper proudly reported, they ‘remained with their mistress … proving true to the last.’”
In fact, King Ranch itself was attacked during the war when Union Captain James Speed led an 80-man assault on Christmas of 1863. King, having been warned preemptively, fled the scene and left his family behind for ranch hand Francisco Alvarado to protect—a charge which directly led to Alvarado’s death.
Nowadays, of course, the ranch no longer practices slavery and has expanded far beyond the black market cotton trade. Their portfolio now includes everything from farmed crops, including citrus, grain, sugar cane, turfgrass, and—you guessed it—cotton, to recreational hunting grounds to luxury retail goods such as the bourbon that is this review’s subject.
We review Old Forester King Ranch Bourbon, tied to a long established and large ranching operation in Texas. (image via Old Forester)
Vital Stats: 105 proof (52.5% ABV). Aged in heavily charred oak. Filtered through King Ranch mesquite charcoal.
Appearance: The bourbon is a deep amber color with low viscosity.
Nose: The comforting scent of fresh bread greets you, followed by the mellow sweetness of cantaloupe and marshmallow.
Palate: Sweet and spicy from start to finish, a strong Rainier cherry note dominates before oaky vanilla arrives to support. The finish is moderately long and rich the taste of caramel.
Whiskey Review: Old Forester King Ranch Edition Bourbon
A just-serviceable whiskey with a sweet and spicy profile. This will appeal to folks who prefer their bourbon on the spicier, less viscous side but don’t want to commit fully to rye. I found that as soon as the next day, I had forgotten what the whiskey had tasted like and even whether or not I had liked it. A forgettable bourbon is not a good thing.
Austin Scarberry is a writer and pastry chef based in Portland, Oregon. He uses his experience in the culinary industry to inform his reviews, letting the gentle thoughtfulness he learned from baking guide his work. Outside of The Whiskey Wash, he mainly writes poetry and fantasy/sci-fi. You can find his...