I went to grab Glencairns for Week 8 of Sample Mountain and the first one I grabbed happened to be branded by Old Forester so naturally it had to be Old Forester Week. These were tasted from lowest to highest proof starting with 2019 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, the 150th Anniversary Batch 2 and lastly The Austin Shaker’s 2021 pick.
Age: 11 years
Nose: Candy bar nose with caramel, chocolate and vanilla notes and almost no proof sting. There was a touch of spice if I looked for it.
Taste: Caramel and spice backed up by oak and vanilla with a slightly bitter note toward the end. Middling mouthfeel.
Finish: Medium length finish with some bitterness balanced with more caramel.
Buy a bottle? No
Nose: Bigger and bolder than the Birthday with rye spice, caramel, vanilla and rich oak. The proof is present but well integrated.
Taste: Complex and intense with rye and baking spices, caramel and chocolate, smoky oak, vanilla and something else I couldn’t place. Nice and viscous mouthfeel.
Finish: Long and slightly dry but in a pleasant way like fine wine with a fading caramel then lingering oak, spice and vanilla.
Buy a bottle? Yes
Nose: Intense nose with a good bit of proof sting and notes of caramel, rye spice and chocolate.
Taste: Great vanilla and caramel burst up front with the baking and rye spice picking up toward the end. Excellent mouthfeel that really hits the front of my mouth. The proof comes through stronger than it did on the 150th.
Finish: Medium to short finish with a flash of sweetness then spice.
Buy a bottle? Yes
The nose was great on the BB, went downhill from there. It’s enjoyable but nothing special and I’m not sure it’s even worth the retail price to me. I definitely wouldn’t hunt this one.
OF Anniversary was 🔥. It’s right up there with the President’s Choice I tried as the best Old Forester that I’ve had. Definitely sad I missed this one and would gladly pick it up nearish to retail. This was hands down better than the ‘19 Birthday Bourbon for me.
I feel like these Old Forester Barrel Proof picks are young, high proof bruisers that are enjoyable buy not worth $80 like many craft releases. On the other I definitely would have bought this had I been able to make it down to Shaker that day and after tasting it I only feel that more. It’s certainly no unicorn bottle, no OFBP pick I’ve had it, but think it goes to show that with sufficient volume a distiller can produce some young barrels that come close to Stagg Jr and ECBP especially when you are cranking out the volume that Brown Forman is.
I’m not the biggest Old Forester fan and I typically don’t think their special releases are worth it but the 150th is an exception but the ‘19 BB is not. Even so if I had to pick a rare bottle from last year to grab it would not be the Old Forester 150th over something like GTS, 4 Roses LE or even a great Willett single barrel. I am a barrel proof barrel pick tater and the Shaker pick is no exception, I’d happily have bought one.
TL;DR: 150th was surprisingly great, Shaker pick was enjoyable but pricey for the age, Birthday Bourbon was a let down.