Brown-Forman first introduced their “President’s Reserve” expression of Old Forester in the late 1940s. At that time it was a single barrel expression and packaged in amber glass that was a round, flask-shaped bottle. The label looked very similar to the label used in this modern bottling. It was an excellent whiskey in those days as it is now. My only complaint for the release is the price. It cost a little over $200.00 for a bottle and two Glencairn glasses. It does seem to me that a price that is about five times the price of Old Forester is a bit steep. The expression is bottled at cask strength and aged for 9 years, so I can see it being more expensive than other expressions of Old Forester, but this seems a little extreme. This was purchased at the Main Street Distillery in Louisville, so I am hoping it can be found at a lower price in the liquor stores. However, if they are selling it out, then I guess this is just the new reality on Bourbon pricing.
The whiskey in this bottle is the Old Forester recipe of 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malted barley. The barrel entry proof is 125. The big differences between this and the standard expression of Old Forester is the age and bottle proof. They aged the whiskey 3 or 4 years longer that the whiskey used for Old Forester 100 proof. They also bottled it at cask strength. This does make a difference in that there are more concentrated flavors in the whiskey.
Old Forester President’s Reserve Bourbon
Age: 9 Years Old
Nose: Caramel, green apples, baking spices and lots of oak.
Taste: Caramel, green apples, banana, baking spices and lots of wood tannins. A little water helps tame the tannins and enhances the green apple and nutmeg spice. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the fruit flavors decrease but the caramel increases and a hint of dark chocolate comes forward. Tasted with a pecan and the banana becomes the dominant fruit flavor and the baking spices become stronger while the oak tannins decrease.
Finish: Long and dry with lots of oak tannins and some of the lingering baking spices. The dried cranberry makes the finish shorter and sweeter with the notes of chocolate lingering into the finish. The pecan lengthened the finish and the oak tannins dominate.
I am tasting this with a Montecristo Espada Oscuro cigar. I find the smoke to be filled with sweet caramel notes, a little cedar spice and a hint of dried fruit. The Bourbon enhanced the caramel and turned the spice to a white pepper spiciness. The smoke enhanced the green apple flavors of the Bourbon and made the spices more peppery. It is a good pairing.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller