Newest Old Forester Bourbon Release Brings The Proof While Celebrating 150 Years Of Brand History

By Nino Kilgore-Marchetti / September 24, 2020

It is said that, in 1870, one George Brown “changed the spirits industry forever when he sealed and sold his whisky – Old Forester – exclusively in a glass bottle.” While that may or may not be true, what is known 150 years later is that Brown-Forman’s Old Forester American whiskey brand is a solid contender in the minds of many drinkers of mainstream bourbons and ryes. Now, in celebration of its anniversary, a new “batch strength” expression is coming to market.

The new Old Forester 150th Anniversary Bourbon, according to those behind it, “references George’s original process, composed of three batches, unfiltered and each presented at individual batch strength.” At the time his whisky was said to be the first to be sold in sealed glass bottles, and also that he was the first to “commercially batch whisky to ensure a consistent flavor profile.” Brown “batched from three distilleries – Mellwood, Mattingly and Atherton – before eventually acquiring the Mattingly Distillery and distilling his own whisky.”

Old Forester 150th Anniversary Bourbon

Old Forester 150th Anniversary Bourbon (Image via Brown-Forman)

With regards to this modern anniversary interpretation of it, 150 barrels were chosen by Old Forester Master Distiller Chris Morris and set aside for this limited-release product. At maturity, several barrels lost their full contents to the “angel’s share.” The resulting aged liquid, the brand noted, “was personally and individually tasted by Master Taster Jackie Zykan and separated by-hand into three distinct batches, differing in proof and flavor profile.”

“We designed the expression to share our unique story,” said Jackie Zykan, Old Forester Master Taster, in a prepared statement. “George Garvin Brown was an entrepreneur and an innovator. I have composed three unique blends to honor his process of batching from the three original distilleries.

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“Each captures a distinct facet of the beloved Old Forester flavor profile, each upholding his highest standards of quality.”

The three blends, of which more details such as tasting notes can be found at the end of this article, are being presented in an amber glass bottle and come in a commemorative canister. They will be available in October for around $150 per 750 ml bottle.

“This special bourbon has been in the works for some time now, and while it is exciting for our family and colleagues, I hope the larger Old Forester family – the bourbon lovers and fans – will appreciate it just as much,” noted Campbell Brown, Old Forester President and Fifth-Generation Brown Family Member. “My great-great grandfather had quite the vision for his whisky. He was bringing something to the market that had previously not existed and today, we instill his legacy of ingenuity in everything we do – especially in the halls at Old Forester Distilling Co., in the same building George ran the business in the early days of the company.” 

As for the specifics of each:

Batch 01/03 – 125.6 proof/62.8% ABV, comprised of 46 barrels; fruit bomb

  • Nose: maple syrup and perfectly ripe orchard fruits, apricot and plum
  • Mid: açaí and black current
  • Finish: graham cracker, subtle peppermint, long well-rounded spice, moderately dry

Batch 02/03 – 126.4 proof/63.2% ABV, comprised of 48 barrels; sweet and spry

  • Nose: cherry cordial and raspberry preserves
  • Mid: French toast and chocolate malt
  • Finish: brilliant and perky spice at the front of the palate, touch of cedar, mildly dry
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Batch 03/03 – 126.8 proof/63.4% ABV, comprised of 53 barrels; green and spice

  • Nose: dill and bright orange peel, hint of light brown sugar
  • Mid: sweetens in the middle to melon and pine
  • Finish: medium dry, tingling green peppercorns, rosemary, grapefruit peel, and lingering anise