Old Forester

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Old Forester

Unread postby Bourbon HQ » Wed Sep 03, 2008 11:50 am

[b]Last night I attended a tasting sponsored by Brown-Forman. They introduced a new Prohibition repeal bottle they will be selling to honor the 75th anniversary of repeal. It should be in 32 states around Novermber.

Gayle/b]
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Re: Old Forester

Unread postby Bourbon Joe » Wed Sep 03, 2008 1:31 pm

Gayle,
Did they let you taste that old stuff?
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Re: Old Forester

Unread postby bourbonv » Wed Sep 03, 2008 1:46 pm

The event Gayle refers to was actually a fund raising event at the Filson Historical Society with Brown-Forman sponsoring the event as a birthday party for George Garvin Brown, who turned 162 years old yesterday. The event came about because I had a bottle of 22yo Old Forester made in 1916 and bottled in 1938 I purchased from a guy here in Louisville who was cleaning out his grandfather's basement. I also had a bottle of President's Choice from 1965 and a bottle of 86 proof Old Forester from 1992. I called Chris Morris and we worked out the event as a fund raising event for the Filson on George Garvin Brown's Birthday. It was a big success and we had a combination of local Bourbon Society members, Filson Historical Society Members, Old Forester 1870 club members, people who saw it on the Justaddbourbon website calendar and people who saw it in the local paper. There were several writer's and reports at the event, including Chuck Cowdery. It was fun because the local radio talk show host Francine was here as well.

When I get home from work today, I plan on doing the tasting notes for the Old Forester 22yo and the Old Forester 86 proof from 1992, since there is still a little left in the bottles of those two products.
Mike Veach
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Re: Old Forester

Unread postby bunghole » Wed Sep 03, 2008 5:57 pm

OK, time for tell part of 'Show 'n' Tell'.

1) Who is Chuck Cowdery sitting by/talking with?

2) Who is the graying bespectacled gentleman Prof. Veach is talking with?

3) Does anyone have any idea how hard it is to spell 'bespectacled'???????????

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Re: Old Forester

Unread postby Bas » Wed Sep 03, 2008 7:24 pm

Is prof Veach the one on the second pic totally on the right. The one with the #$@%^%& tie :lol: .
And Chuck is talking to the wrong side of him.
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Re: Old Forester

Unread postby Bourbon HQ » Thu Sep 04, 2008 9:18 am

Chuck is talking to my friend Martha Rosenfeld, and I don't know who the man is that Mike is talking to. I'm sure he will post it.

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Re: Old Forester

Unread postby Bourbon HQ » Thu Sep 04, 2008 9:22 am

Oh no! Sorry, wrong picture. That's not Martha that Chuck is talking to. There was another picture of Chuck talking to her.

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Re: Old Forester

Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Sep 04, 2008 1:05 pm

I think that is Mr. Finkston who drove up from Henderson, Ky. to attend the tasting. Interesting fellow who has some old bottles of interest.
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Re: Old Forester

Unread postby cowdery » Thu Sep 04, 2008 2:07 pm

In the "Chris with bottles" photo I am seated next to and talking to Terry Sullivan, another writer from Chicago.

Mike, BF and the Filson are all to be complimented on a fine event.

They also proved that I will drive ten hours (roundtrip) to taste a 22-year-old pre-Prohibition bourbon.

Mike, can you explain why, with the incredible shortage of aged whiskey at the end of Prohibition, that Brown-Forman had 1916 distillate which they didn't get around to bottling until five years after Repeal?
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Re: Old Forester

Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Sep 04, 2008 2:41 pm

Chuck,
I was not there in 1938 and I can only theorize as to why the aged bourbon was still there 5 years after repeal, but here is my theory.

When prohibition was repealed there was still aged whiskey available, but people were getting tired of woody, over aged whiskey. Tastes had changed during prohibition and many people were drinking properly aged Canadian and Scotch whiskey in place of the over aged bourbons and ryes. I know you have tasted many of the prohibition bottles and from experience many of them really are like sucking on a barrel stave. The results is that many of these older whiskey probably ended up in the blends that were being bottled at that time. Brown-Forman probably had some barrels that were still acceptable as drink and decided to go ahead and bottle them as a bonded bourbon and sell them to the segment of the market liked the older whiskeys. This may have been influenced by the fact that 20yo Scotch whiskies were quite acceptable as well.

I know that Brown-Forman was not the only company to have stocks this old in their warehouses but this is one of the few bottlings I have seen of bourbons that old bottled right after prohibition. What do you think Chuck? Is this a sound theory?
Mike Veach
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Re: Old Forester

Unread postby cowdery » Thu Sep 04, 2008 6:16 pm

That sounds exactly right.

I know that in the first year or two after Repeal, several companies did special bottlings of pre-Prohibition and, therefore, well-aged whiskey which they issued as dividends to stockholders. Is there anything on the bottle labeling to suggest it was something like that, a special bottling for stock holders?

I have somewhere the number of barrels BF still had in warehouses at the point of repeal. It wasn't much, something like 5,000 to 6,000 barrels.

It's just hard to figure why 1938? Is it possible that, with so much to do, nobody got around to tasting it until 1938 and only then discovered how good it was?

You are absolutely right about the medicinal whiskey, which is why I'm never very excited about tasting it, because it's usually over-wooded crap. The reason was because many barrels got over-handled, moved from warehouse to warehouse, without anybody paying much attention to it or to how it was aging. At Brown-Forman, it probably never moved, or perhaps was transferred once from St. Mary to Louisville when the consolidation warehouse system was put in place. The Brown-Forman people also probably put what barrels they had in the coolest parts of the warehouses to deliberately retard their aging, which probably was done with very little of the other pre-pro whiskey that was still in wood in 1933. That makes that bottle even more rare: a 22-year-old whiskey, distilled pre-Prohibition, that is actually tasty.

My tasting notes, by the way, are here.
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Re: Old Forester

Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Sep 04, 2008 6:20 pm

Here are my tasting notes on the Old Forester:

Old Forester Bottled in Bond made spring 1916, bottled Fall 1938. This bourbon was made at the Brown-Forman St. Mary's distillery by B F Mattingly

Tasted in a Glencairn glass

Color: This is not your typical amber colored whiskey. The color is more of an Umber colored brown - weak coffee color. Not clear of translucient, but almost cloudy.

Nose: Very ripe dark fruit like very ripe apricots with blackberries that plump with ripeness. Caramel and sweet spices - nutmeg and a hint of cinnamon with some very dark chocolate. Oak wood is in the nose but does not dominate the aroma like most bourbons 22 years old. I can spend all night just nosing this bourbon. It opens up some as it breaths bringing out more of the chocolate and caramel.

Taste: Fruit and caramel with some of the spice and lots of what John Lipman calls "old whiskey taste". I think the wintergreen Chuck refers too is part of that old whiskey taste, but there is also some fine leather and pipe tobacco mixed with the mint and maybe a little of the nutmeg as well. It is suprising very full bodied but not woody. The wood is there but the tannic bitterness that come from a lot of wood is not there.

Finish: Very long and sweet but this is where the wood really comes out as a kind of a dry finish yet fruity sweet like a dried apricot. There is only a hint of caramel and that does seem almost like a caramel-chocolate nouget.

Notes: This is a very good bourbon. What is interesting is that there is a little sediment in the bottom that is clearly fine charcoal powder. This would considered a non-filtered bourbon in todays market. Chuck drove over 200 miles for a chance to taste this bourbon - my question for him is would he drive it again to help me finish this bottle off? There is enough left for a couple more decent pours.
Mike Veach
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Re: Old Forester

Unread postby cowdery » Thu Sep 04, 2008 6:23 pm

I drove over 600 miles, round trip. In theory, at least, it was good enough to do it again. It was that good.
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Re: Old Forester

Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Sep 04, 2008 6:30 pm

Chuck,
There is nothing on the label that would indicate that this was anything other than normal bottling for the open market. I did find it interesting that the bottle was 1) amber glass and 2) the shape was later used for the President's Choice Old Forester bottled in the 1950's and 60's.
Mike Veach
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Re: Old Forester

Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Sep 05, 2008 9:39 am

Chuck,
I enjoyed your blog. Just one little comment: You state that the Repeal Old Forester is not like the 22yo we tasted and I agree, but I will have to say that it is more like the 22yo than most of the other prohibition bourbon I have drank. I liked the repeal Old Forester, but most prohibition bourbons I don't care for because they are too woody and tannic.
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