If nothing else, this month is teaching me that the bourbon industry loves a good dose of history. Old Forester goes for the big score, as it turns out to be "America’s First Bottled Bourbon ®" - although that dates from 1870, so that doesn't really beat other brands by a huge margin.
They also apparently kept distilling right through Prohibition, having obtained a federal license to produce alcohol for "medicinal purposes" - which my cynical nature reads as "for consumption by politicians".
Old Forester Bourbon - known on their website as 'Classic 86 Proof' - is, as the official name suggests, a 43% ABV bourbon.
The aroma is dominated by sweet tree blossom, with touches of wood and a background of buttery shortbread biscuit. Water brings out some vanilla notes, along with just a suggestion of tobacco.
In the mouth it's caramel syrup sweet, quickly joined by quite a spicy, almost chilli-like bite. The finish softens that spice edge, with a building orange juice fruitiness and just a whiff of old wood. Watered, the sweetness is dulled, and the spice flattened out - less aggressive at the start, and stretching out more in the finish.
I think a splash of water brings this bourbon up to another level; 3 stars.
Many thanks to Master of Malt for providing their excellent Bourbon Advent Calendar this year.
This review was originally published 10th December, 2015. It was last updated 1st June, 2023.