Old Forester has a series they call the “Whiskey Row” series. The name comes from the fact that Old Forester had an office on Main Street in Louisville in the heart of Louisville’s Whiskey Row. Whiskey Row gets its name from the fact that so many whiskey companies had offices in Louisville in order to be at the center of transportation for Kentucky in the 19th century. Main Street, between 1st and 2nd Streets was considered the prime location as it was close to the docks for steamboats. The whiskey could be loaded on the steamboats for shipping to other cities on the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers. Even after the railroad came to Louisville, steamboats were still an important part of transportation in the 19th century.
The 1897 version of this series is named for the year the Bottled-in-Bond Act was passed. I find this a bit ironic because George Garvin Brown was opposed to the passing of Bottled-in-Bond. He was a rectifier who was purchasing whiskey from three different distilleries to make the whiskey he bottled as Old Forester. He was also using Bourbons that were over eight years old in Old Forester and eight years was the maximum age for a bonded whiskey at that time. However, he soon saw the value of bonded whiskey and purchased the Mattingly Distillery in St. Mary, Kentucky, one of the distilleries he was getting his whiskey from and released an Old Forester Bottled-in-Bond. This whiskey pays homage to bonded whiskey. As part of our homage to the 125th anniversary of the passage of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897, Matt and I sat down and tasted this Bourbon from Brown-Forman.
This bottle is from a couple of years ago and since it is a bonded whiskey, the taste could vary from the present release. Bonded whiskey is the only true “vintage” style whiskey in the market. There is no age statement on the bottle, so if Brown-Forman is bottling it at the same age every time, the whiskey is going to be different each year. Different years could have slightly different flavors, but it will not vary drastically. It would be interesting to sit down with bottles from different years and see what differences can be detected.
Old Forester 1897 Bottled-in-Bond
Age: No Age Statement
- Mike: Vanilla with green apples and bananas and a little pepper spice and oak.
- Matt: Vanilla with some fruit and nutty oak wood.
- Mike: Vanilla with green apples and a hint of banana with some black pepper spice and oak. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the vanilla becomes stronger and the fruit is reduced. Tasted with a pecan and the vanilla becomes a rich French vanilla and the black pepper becomes more prominent.
- Matt: A vanilla latte coffee with a Bananas Foster dessert. The dried cranberry brought out some buttered popcorn notes. The pecan brought out some chocolate and toasted nuts with a little pepper spice.
- Mike: Long with oak and black pepper. The dried cranberry made the finish shorter with less pepper spice. The pecan made the finish dry with lots of oak and black pepper.
- Matt: Long with oak, leather and cinnamon spice. The dried cranberry shortened the finish and made it sweeter. The pecan made the cinnamon flavor stronger like a cinnamon red hot candy.
I would pair this Bourbon with a cigar with lots of cedar spice and earthy tobacco. I would reach for a cigar with a Connecticut wrapper, a NUB would fit the bill nicely.
Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller