Old Forester has always been a top notch Bourbon. In the 1980s, when many distilleries were cutting corners and lowering their proof on brands to 80 proof products, Brown-Forman resisted the trend and kept Old Forester at 86 and 100 proof expressions. They are still that way today.

This bottle came to us from Rosemary’s sister, Andrea, and her husband, Bob. They inherited it from his father who was an accountant and received many such bottles during his career. They were happy to gift the bottle to us one Thanksgiving. One of the best gifts I have had the pleasure of receiving! The bottle had a fake tax stamp and a screw cap without the tamper proof seal. The bottle is also made with dimples on the side for a firm grip. A very handy design when selling a bottle to a bar where the bartender may have wet hands. There is no age statement, but in the 1980s, everyone had excess whiskey in their warehouses, which led to whiskey as old as 10 years old going into many standard labels. I suspect there is a fairly high percentage of older whiskey in this bottle.

Old Forester Bourbon

Date: Circa 1986

Proof: 86

Age: No Age Statement

Nose: Caramel and lots of it, bananas, old leather and oak with some sweet baking spices.

Taste: Caramel apples, pepper spice and oak with a little banana in the background. Tasted with a dried cranberry and a citrus note comes out with ripe apples, caramel and a hint of dark chocolate and oak. When tasted with a pecan, the caramel becomes butter toffee with a hint of oranges, pepper and oak.

Finish: Long and dry with oak and pepper spice at first but a little baking spice starts to come forward as the finish lingers. The dried cranberry made the finish even longer with more oak and the spice disappears to be replaced by a dark chocolate note. The pecan made the finish very long and dominated by pepper.

I am pairing this Bourbon with a Foundation Menelik cigar. I find that there is a lot of earthy barnyard notes of hay with some vanilla and cedar spice in the smoke that I think will pair well with this classic Bourbon. With the Old Forester, the smoke had less hay and earthy notes but became sweeter with caramel and pepper spice. The smoke brought out a citrus note of lemon zest with green apples and vanilla with hardly any spice in the Bourbon. A very good pairing on this winter’s day.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller