Single Barrel Old Forester

While Driscoll is exploring the deepest warehouses in Kentucky setting us all up for a stupendous holiday covered is sweet bourbony goodness, I’m back here at K&L sittin’ pretty with some new barrels that have just arrived. Two have all but sold out on their own merit within days, but you might be lucky enough to grab a snort of the Eagle Rare if you’re quick about it. It’s an incredible age when you can sell out of an entire cask of whiskey without ever lifting a finger. It’s obvious that our customers and the drinking public crave uniqueness. It’s not enough to just give them something delicious anymore. We can do delicious all day long. With the excellent Mckenna 10 Year BIB or Russell’s Reserve Bourbon each clocking in at $28 and a number of other options at ridiculously affordable prices, you’re still able to drink extremely well without having to shell out, but if you want to drink something special you’ve got work for it.

The single barrel selection remains the ultimate experience for many bourbon drinkers. There’s something unique about the experience of uncorking something that you know you won’t ever taste again. The proverbial snowflake fallen from the heavens and by the good grace of god just happens to have landed right on your tongue. It’s that knowledge that you have something that will never exist again. It’s that special feeling of, you know, feeling special that makes these barrels move. Our reputation for picking out cherries over the last decade hasn’t us hurt either.

To start we have the first in what will be a trio of stupendous casks that I picked up during my visit to the Old Forester plant in April. I’ve been working to get into Old Forester for years and was extremely lucky to get a great tour of the old facility, see one of the few working thumpers in the business and get a better idea of the inner workings of this facility that’s responsible for a number of great whiskies that are released every year. What’s known as the Early Times Distillery or the Brown-Forman plant was originally built right after prohibition to supply the growing Early Times brand which they had acquired during prohibition. At the time the Old Forester brand was made just up the street in the facility which now houses the corporate offices, bottling and storage facility for Brown-Forman.

In the 1950s, the plant was completely overhauled and production of the premium Old Forester brand moved to this sparkling beacon of efficiency. Now the sparkle may have worn off, but the distillery still makes some serious juice. This is a large scale facility featuring 10+ 42,000 Gal fermenters and two large column stills with thumpers attached. These large stills are all crammed into a tiny space. The thumpers are named for the knocking sound that they make as the steam from the columns is directed into the unusually shaped stills without condensation. There the steam hits a pool of water which quickly condenses and redistills the spirit to a much higher proof through the pressure and heat being forced into the chamber. The noise it makes is haunting. Old Forester considers the thumper one of the most important aspects for getting the signature smooth flavor of their bourbons.

We see interest growing daily in Old Forester as it represents some of the finest values in the industry, which is why I'm excited to bring you this cask:

Old Forester K&L Exclusive Single Barrel #2023 Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whisky $39.99

Whether the well received Prohibition 1920 or the excellent every day values like the 100 proof, there’s no question that the distillery's status is on the rise. When we finally got into the distillery in spring of 2017, we found a very classic operation using a proper souring room, like you'd find at Four Roses or Wild Turkey, and two of the only thumpers left in Kentucky. The result is one of the smoothest, easiest to appreciate bourbon on the market. This great little cask of Old Forester was dumped on July 28th, 2017 and distilled on November 1st, 2012. Incredible how much depth and complexity they achieve after only 4.5 years, the result of several cold winters in patent warehouses no doubt. The nose is toasted brown sugar, fresh mocha and herbal mint. On the palate, a sweet entry that remains super soft and sweet in the middle building toward a dark baking spice on the finish. A long lingering black cherry note persists for a while after that. This whisky is so overt and approachable; almost any drinker will be able to appreciate the wonderful nuance and great drinkability here.

-David Othenin-Girard

David Othenin-Girard