Oh the places you'll go, the barrels you'll pick! When Derek and I set out to start picking barrels together for the state of Massachusetts, we had no idea we'd be doing this many every year. This one was another fun one for me, as I'm a bit of a curmudgeon when it comes to Old Forester barrel proof picks. More often than not they come off too hot to me. I've explored plenty of samples from a multitude of stores at this point, so I know what works and what doesn't. Let's dive in and find out why we chose to pick this barrel!
Company on Label: Old Forester
Whiskey Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Mash Bill Percentages: 70% Corn, 18% Rye, 10% Barley
Further identification: This is a Warehouse H, Floor 4 single barrel pick that I personally selected with Mass Bourbon Alliance in collaboration with Liquor Junction
Nose: Cherry hots leap from the glass with emphasis. Notes of strawberry parfait, creamed corn and vanilla frosting build on layers of sweets. Deep inhales show off loads of macerated fruit skins; I find cherry, plum and blackberry. Below those notes sits a wonderful birthday cake aroma. Returning ones nose to the glass after a few sips reveals linen, white chocolate and bright oak. Red berries swing back in strong late in the glass. The empty glass smells of a multitude of bakery sweets.
Palate: Right away this presents fruit forward with quite a punch. Think cherry with loads of cinnamon behind it. Most of these picks come off pretty hot, so make sure you’re in a good place for one of these heaters. Diving back in shows off layers of fresh bakery bread, black pepper and quite a bit more complex oak than I’m used to from Old Forester; it kind of reminds me of an older, cask strength version of 1920 with raspberry, dark chocolate and rich caramel tones. A longer sip and swish undulates hefty waves of raspberry, Necco wafer, Biscoff cookie, and leather. The finish is on the shorter end, but it’s not unwelcome for a pour with this much heat. At last sip the sweet tart flavors really pop while a touch of rye sits in the linger.
TL;DR: Deep, rich flavor with plenty of heft to carry it through - not for the squeamish!
Reminder that I never give numerical scores to whiskey that I personally had a hand in selecting, as I feel it wouldn't be possible to go in unbiased. I will say that this is a solid pick that I'm glad to share with our Massachusetts whiskey community. I've enjoyed it with a few folks already who have had glowing feedback. If you're in MA, get over to Liquor Junction to grab one of these today & let me know down in the comments if you get to try it!