Branch On Fire: Old Forester Whiskey Row

The last Branch on Fire I did was for Old Forester Rye. Well, we are back with more Old Forester. Several more, in fact.

Last month, I was able to participate in an online Whiskey Row tasting, featuring Jackie Zykan from Old Forester. In the tasting was five different whiskeys from Old Forester, with each representing a different era for the distillery.

Whiskey Row, as they call it, includes whiskey based on their recipes from 1870, 1897, 1910, 1920 and then we had a bonus whiskey: The Statesman. I was able to secure a sampling kit for the event.

We drank from the earliest to the latest, beginning with the 1970, the original recipe. Old Forester is mostly a mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% barley, with the proof being the differences for the most part.

The 1870 had quite a bit of the rye spice on the backend, checking in at 90 proof. 1897 brought the Bottled In Bond Act, requiring 100 proof. Aged at four years, this one is kept in barrel longer, and with few barrels of it available. The aging gives it more caramel on the taste.

Side note: OF uses heat cycled brick and concrete warehouses, with temperatures monitored, which ages whiskey at a faster rate than most. It is a more costly way to age.

The third in the lineup was the 1910, which includes a secondary barreling in deep charred barrels. You certainly get more of the oak as well. In 1920, prohibition hits. OF was able to remain open, as a purveyor of “medicinal whiskey”. For medicinal purposes, the whiskey checks in at 115 proof and is minimally filters. They also make less than 100 barrels of it.

Another side note: A popular trick for OF drinkers is to mix the 1910 and the 1920 in equal parts. What do they call this concoction? Well, the 1915 of course.

The last whiskey in the lineup was The Statesman, which was a whiskey created mostly for marketing, as it is the whiskey used in the second Kingsman movie, The Golden Circle. The makers wanted to use a distillery that predated prohibition, and had run continuously since. Enter Old Forester. This one is 95 proof.

I didn’t rate these individually, although I might circle back around to that as I have some left. But I did rank my top three the day of the tasting.

  1. 1910
  2. Statesman
  3. 1870

Whiskey Ratings

93: Lagavulin 11 Offerman Edition
92: Jefferson’s Reserve Very Old.
90: High West Campfire, Few Rye
89: Old Forester Rye
88: Buffalo Trace
87: Breckenridge Bourbon
85: Wolfburn Aurora
83: Buchanan’s Deluxe 12

Gin Ratings

88: Dogfish Head Compelling Gin


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