By Richard Thomas
Brown-Forman marked the 150th Anniversary of their foundation brand, Old Forester, this year by releasing three batches of cask strength bourbon. In a pattern similar to the Birthday Bourbons, Master Taster Jackie Zykan selected a 150 barrel set of Old Forester that was distilled and laid down in the same daily batch, ricked up together in the same part of the warehouse.
Where 150th Anniversary differs from an installment of Birthday Bourbon is what happened next. First, three of those 150 barrels were emptied, dried up by either evaporation or leaks. Zykan then drew three separate strands out of that batch, creating a trio of distinct bourbons that were bottled at (aggregate) cask strength.
That split means I can’t speak to all three. The sample I received was of Batch 3, bottled at 126.8 proof.
Knowing this bourbon was above 60% ABV, I gave it a brief nosing to confirm the heat and immediately put in a generous splash of water. Despite the dilution, the whiskey retained its deep amber appearance.
I found the nose put a bowl of trail mix atop some very traditional bourbon characteristics, in that the brown sugar and vanilla bean had dried banana chips and cherries heaped on top. Add a mere sprig of dill to garnish, and you’ve got the scent. The flavor carried that profile and ran with it. A rich, creamy texture delivered oodles of that caramel, banana and cherry character, with the finish winding down like a spicy cherry syrup (and I don’t mean cough medicine there; I mean a spicy cherry syrup).
As indicated above, for reviews of Batch 1 and 2 (125.6 and 126.4 proof respectively), you will need to look elsewhere. As for Batch 3, I found it to be a full-bodied, deliciously flavorful drinking experience.
In another nod to 150 years, this item is priced at $150 per bottle.