Old Forester surprised us all this winter with the announcement of a fifth edition in the Whiskey Row Series, a collection of whiskeys intended to evoke old timey styles of bourbondom dating variously to 1870, 1897, 1910, and 1920. The 1910 and 1920 bottlings are some of our favorite bourbons ever, so the addition of 1924 was met with considerable excitement.
Alongside 1924 we’re reviewing the latest whiskey in the limited edition, and more experimental, 117 Series.
Details on what’s inside each bottle can be found in the writeups below.
Old Forester Whiskey Row Series – 1924 10 Years Old – 1924 offers a big twist in that it’s made from a different recipe than traditional Old Forester bottlings, made from a brand new mashbill of 79% corn, 11% rye, and 10% barley. (Standard OldFo is 18% rye.) The low rye recipe is backed up by a 10 year old age statement to boot — a first for the Whiskey Row Series.
Brooding, restrained, and big with corn notes, this is a surprising whiskey that may challenge existing opinions about Old Forester. The nose is burly and focused heavily on charred cereal, arguably evoking its namesake era more than any of the other releases in this series. Toasted spices and black pepper emerge with time in glass, but the peanut shells littering the floor dominate. The palate is surprisingly spice-laden, infusing a core of chunky peanut butter, toasted bread, and butterscotch with a light dusting of rosemary. Creamy and chewy as it develops, the finish alternately recalls vanilla taffy and almond butter, making for a soothing, cookie-like fade-out. While it’s perfectly agreeable (though nowhere near as amazing as 1910 or especially 1920), it’s arguably the most simplistic of the Whiskey Row Series — and also the most difficult to justify its price tag. 100 proof. B+ / $115 [BUY IT NOW FROM RESERVEBAR]
Old Forester The 117 Series – Scotch Cask Finish – Honoring George Garvin Brown’s Scottish heritage, this new bottling finishes Old Forester bourbon in sherry and wine casks used in the Speyside region. There’s precious little additional information available beyond that setup, however, so let’s dive in straight away.
The nose does evoke sherry-finished Scotch, with an immediate pop of citrus that pairs well with notes of chocolate and a subdued barrel char character underneath. There’s a peppery quality that sits low in the glass, fading into the aromatic background and working well with the more up-front elements. The palate is sweeter than the typical Old Forester expression, again offering a bold spritz of citrusy orange oil which faces off against more traditional notes of peanut brittle, caramel, vanilla, and a solid cola note later in the game. Ample cocoa powder and some dusky char give the whiskey needed gravitas, while the finish finds an echo of Chick-O-Sticks. All told, it’s a lively if unexpected detour from this always engaging series. 93 proof. A- / $60