Whisky You Can Drink: Old Forester 86

(Wherein I drink whisky, and tell you about it.)

First of all, yes, Old Forester is a bourbon, and yes, they still forego the “e.” Traditionally the Irish and Americans spell it with an “e.” Scots and Canadians don’t. Anyway, I chose the 86 proof version over the 100 proof, because these two knuckleheads calling themselves the “Bourbon Junkies” on YouTube both chose the 86 over the 100 in a blind taste test, despite their professed love and reverence for the 100. I paid $19.99 for this bottle on sale, which is why you can drink it.

What does it smell like? Whiskey nerds call this the “nose,” as in, “On the nose, I get dark molasses and pistachio pudding, maybe some motor oil or brake fluid, and a touch of cardamom.” Hahahahahahaha. Let’s be real. All bourbon is at least 51% corn (Old Forester is 72%) and aged in charred, new oak barrels. It all smells pretty much the same, which is to say, it smells like bourbon.

Okay, so maybe I’m not all that good at this, but I only just started paying attention to this shit recently. It smells like bourbon. If pressed, I’d have to say toffee, or maybe caramel corn. Cinnamon. Maybe some dark fruit if you look hard enough. They are soft, rounded smells. There is a bit of a sourness, like what I imagine the mash smells like at the end of fermentation, which may also be a hint of burnt, bourbon-soaked oak or some damn thing. But, I have found that I get this in some other whiskies as well, not just bourbon, so who the fuck knows?

What’s it taste like? Whiskey nerds call this the “palate,” as in, “On the palate I get green apple and Crunchberries, with just a hint of creamed asparagus and Grape Big League Chew on the back end.” But no, really, what’s it taste like? It tastes like bourbon. Duh. See above. Okay, maybe there’s some black cherries and dark chocolate. It’s a bit leathery. These are dark, round, subdued flavors, with kind of a buttery feel going down (I’m supposed to call this “mouthfeel,” which is certainly descriptive, but also oddly gross when you say it out loud). There is an insignificant alcohol bite, which could also be the 18% rye in the mash bill giving it a little spice. But flavor is highly subjective. Put this next to a brown ale, and suddenly it’s all Corn Pops and oranges. This would probably hold up nicely to a small bit of ice or water, if you are so inclined.

Should you buy it? Don’t let me tell you what to do with your money. I don’t need that kind of responsibility.

Will I buy it again? It’s not necessarily my favorite, but at $20, why not?



  1. …smells like bourbon…tastes like bourbon…costs $20…lemmy didn’t hate it

    …that’s good enough for me

    […also I totally agree about the “mouth feel” thing…whoever came up with that is not the authority on booze I want to hear from]

    • P.S.

      …what is your favorite?

      • Still figuring that out, but I just bought a bottle of Elijah Craig Small Batch that is probably my favorite so far.

        • @LemmyKilmister I will see if the PA State store stocks or will special order it. They no longer offer Heritage BSB103.

          • Someday I may get around to writing about them both, but the Elijah Craig has brighter smell and flavor, closer to Buffalo Trace, but not quite as in your face.  I really like it.

  2. I got a bottle of rye from a small distillery not too far from me which I’m liking a lot. I am horrible at descriptions and I’m not sure these laundry lists are all that meaningful, but at any rate I can tell it’s whiskey but not Bourbon or Scotch, so that counts for something. From what I can gather a lot of young distilleries like Rye because it can go to market sooner than Bourbon or Scotch, but I’m sure there are lots of exceptions.

    • So far, I’ve only tried Bulleit rye.  It is very hot.  But Old Forester makes a rye that is supposed to be really good, for around $25.  I haven’t seen it in stores.

  3. Totally trying this, I love bourbon.
    Bulleit rye is good but I also like the Jim Beam rye so what do I know? I bought Redemption Rye because I liked the name but I haven’t tried it yet.
    Shoot, gonna have a drink now contrary to my usual Sunday night practice. Something straight up with ice, Michter’s whiskey, yeah, Michter’s.

    • I hear the American Whiskey is good, but it’s out of my self-imposed price range.

      • It is really good and pricey for me too but what the heck, the entertainment budget has to be spent somehow in the age of covid.

  4. I’ve found the George Dickel line of whiskies to be very agreeable in both flavor and pricing. They make a variety of differently blended and proofed products, as well as a rye, that are usually between $20 and $30. The brand is worth seeking out, in my opinion. George Dickel produces a “Tennessee” whisky that is filtered using the Lincoln County Process, which would be an excellent name for a country band.

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