About – Old Forester is credited as being one of the oldest bourbon brands out there being introduce in 1870s. This particular release is the third and final release in the so called whiskey row series commemorating significant dates in the company’s history. This particular release paying homage to Old Forester being only one of six Kentucky whiskey producers given a license to continue distilling for medical purposes during prohibition. As taken from the hangtag “During prohibition, only six Kentucky distilleries were granted permits to bottle bourbon for medicinal purposes. Brown-Forman, maker of Old Forester, secured Permit KY – 3. In 1920. the first bottles under this permit were produced. Our Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style is the third expression in the Old Forester Whiskey Row Series. To match the usual barrel proof of that bourbon after maturation, it is presented now at the same 115 proof.” This bourbon is a no age statement bourbon distilled by Brown-Forman outside of Louisville, Kentucky and bottled at 115 proof, and can be picked up for between $50-$60.
Smell – Bold and complex. Fruit and oak shine through with a hint of sweet pipe tobacco. Despite the high proof the alcohol is not very strong on the nose.
Taste – Just as complex as the nose. Spicy on the entry fading into notes of dried fruit and caramel.
Finish – Long and just as complex as every other aspect of this bourbon. Nice strong oak element that eventually fades into subdued baking spice that lingers around for a good while. Just like the nose, despite the high proof the alcohol is not very overpowering.
Rating – 93
Verdict – Wow! This is truly a fantastic bourbon. Apparently by 1920 Old Forester already had this bourbon thing down. Definitely one I recommend buying if you see a bottle. If the price point seems a little high try it at your favorite bourbon bar and you will see it is well worth the price.
About – Eagle Rare is distilled by Buffalo Trace and is the big brother of their eponymous flagship whiskey. This bottle in particular is part of Buffalo Trace’s single barrel select program and was chosen by Middlebrook Liquor Store in Knoxville, TN. The standard version of Eagle Rare has recently seen the removal of the single barrel designation. Although it is still bottled one barrel at a time, with the new bottle filling system it is possible for each barrel to have minor contact with the previous barrel. Because of this it can’t be labeled as a true single barrel. Eagle Rare is a Straight Kentucky Bourbon Whiskey aged for 10 years, bottled at 90 proof, and can generally be found for around $30.
Smell – Orange peel, lemon, honey. With a bit of water clove takes over as the dominant scent.
Taste – First thing that comes through is sweetness. This is a well integrated bourbon with a silky mouth feel. As it opens up notes of brown sugar and honey come through with a bit of cinnamon on the back end.
Finish – Medium bordering on the shorter side, very little alcohol burn with a bit of cinnamon and toffee with a faint note of chocolate at the very end.
Score – 88
Verdict – Eagle Rare is a really good bourbon that is just short of being great. For people just getting into bourbon I always suggest Buffalo Trace as a good baseline for what good bourbon is, and Eagle Rare is the next step up from that. It isn’t a bourbon that requires your full attention at all times, and as such can be enjoyed as a fantastic sipping whiskey in any situation. This whiskey is also versatile and makes for a good mixer in a classic cocktail such as a Manhattan. I would recommend Eagle Rare to anyone that has not tried it before. You can never go wrong with keeping a bottle stocked in your home bar either as I usually do.
Take a look on the shelf of your local liquor store, or at the reviews on your favorite whiskey website and you are sure to notice that barrel proof bourbons are a hot trend right now. Is this just people going to the extreme like your friend that has to order the 11 pepper face melter sauce when you go out for wings, or is there actually some merit to these high proof beasts? The real answer is a combination of things. Although they have seen a recent surge in popularity barrel proof bourbons are far from new. Back in the grand old days you would purchase your bourbon by filling up a jug at your pharmacy straight from a barrel they had purchased from the distillery. The modern versions aren’t exactly new either. The well known Booker’s was released in the late 80’s and Wild Turkey Rare Breed in the early 90’s. With the recent popularity boom in bourbon it has left many looking for the next big thing, and many have landed on barrel proof as being that. I speculate myself that this is due to the legendary status of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection, three of which are released at barrel strength. So are these whiskeys actually better than their watered down siblings? To an extent yes. The higher proof comes from evaporation of water while aging in the barrel, as this is happening it allows the bourbon left in the barrel to take on stronger characteristics from the barrel itself. This ultimately leads to a deep complex finished product. With bottling at this high proof the end user also gains the ability to water the bourbon down their liking. There are drawbacks to the high alcohol content however, specifically it can have an anesthetizing effect on your tastebuds leaving you unable to pick up on all those complex flavors. So keep in mind when you are picking up your next bottle that although their are many great barrel proof bottles on the market that being barrel proof in itself is no guarantee of quality. There are plenty of bourbons in the 90-100 proof range that pack huge flavors as well. Ultimately let your tastebuds decide what you like, don’t let trends do it for you.
About – Coopers’ Craft Bourbon is the newest product from Louisville base Brow-Forman, the parent company of Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve. It is the first permanent addition to the company’s product line in 20 years. The name honors the role barrel makers known as coopers play in the crafting of bourbon. Brown-Forman is actually the only of the major whiskey producers who own their own cooperage. The barrels used for this whiskey are toasted as opposed to the heavy char that most bourbon barrels receive. The bourbon can be found in several Southern states for the time being and can be purchased for around $28.99 a bottle. The whiskey bears no age statement and it is bottled at 82.2 proof
Smell – A light aroma with a slightly fruity smell and no alcohol burn to speak of.
Taste – A light delicate tasting bourbon. Doesn’t reveal much at first, but as it opens up a slight fruit flavor comes through along with an interesting light oak flavor that can be attributed to the unique toasting of the barrels.
Finish – Medium in length leaving lingering taste of baking spice.
Rating – 85
Recommendation – The toasted barrel and low alcohol content lend to making this a lighter tasting and easy drinking bourbon. This would be a great bourbon for either someone who is just getting into bourbon, or for the seasoned bourbon drinker who is looking to try something different than standard. Not the most complex bourbon, but definitely one worth the $28.99 a bottle price it is being sold for.