(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?