A catastrophic fire followed by a ground breaking ceremony, in that order, just a few weeks apart. 2015 was a particularly busy year for Old Forester.
I remember attending the official ground breaking ceremony in downtown Louisville that year for what is now the Old Forester Distilling Co, a $45M+ 70,000 sq. ft. visitor experience equipped with both a barrel cooperage and urban rickhouse, the only tour offering both under one roof.
What I had forgotten about was the frightful fire that just two weeks prior consumed and threatened the entire block of the historic building district known affectionately as Whiskey Row. Talk about a minor set back.
This would have been a devastating loss to an irreplaceable piece of Bourbon history as “Whisky Row” (1852 – 1905), 101 – 133 W. Main St, was a colossal hub for whiskey barrel storage to countless nearby distilleries, including to Brown-Forman. Also tremendously architecturally historic, it hosts and boasts the second largest cast-iron building façade collection in the US, only behind NYC’s Soho district.
Today, Old Forester Distilling Co. has announced the release of the newest installment of The 117 Series – “Whiskey Row Fire.”
This commemorative bottle honors the 7th anniversary of the infamous fire on Whiskey Row.
“I remember that day and that fire vividly,” Louisville Fire Chief Greg Frederick said. “We are extremely proud of our brave firefighters who risked their lives and saved the block.”
On July 7, 2015, a four-alarm fire ravaged the buildings on historic Whiskey Row in downtown Louisville. Teams of brave Louisville first responders were able to contain and extinguish the catastrophe, preserving the site for the Old Forester Distillery at 117/119 West Main. The block is now home to restaurants, bars, a hotel and other businesses – and has become a tourist destination.
In 2020, men and women of Louisville Fire, many of whom fought the blaze, selected eight single barrels from a lot filled the same day they extinguished the fire. All 8 barrels sold out in two days and proceeds were donated to the Louisville Firefighter Disaster Fund.
The remainder of the barrels filled that day slumbered an additional two years in the warehouse and are now batched together to create the 117 Series – Fireman Barrels.
Per the brand, at nearly 7 years old – these barrels are fully mature and wise in character.
Today, Frederick and Louisville Fire Department members were special guests of Old Forester and toured the distillery. In addition, Old Forester is making a charity donation to the Louisville Fire Department to help firefighters who are in distress.
The 117 Series is a limited-expression lineup that debuted in Spring 2021.
Old Forester Whiskey Row Fire is bottled at 100 proof and will be available starting July 7th at the retail shop at Old Forester Distilling Co. for $59.99 in limited quantities.
Visit OldForester.com for more information.
Tasting notes (per the brand):
- Color: Dark orange brown
- Aroma: Sweet notes of honey comb, malt and marzipan mingle with delicate cedar and fresh oak notes atop cherries laced with vanilla cream.
- Flavor: Brown sugar, marzipan, vanilla and honey sweeten a mix of berry fruit.
- Finish: Long notes of honey and vanilla linger with a touch of fruit.
About the 117 Series:
The 117 Series offers a deep dive, or deconstruction, on how either the individual Old Forester Whiskey Row Series expressions are crafted or highlights other historical moments of Old Forester’s history on W. Main Street.
For 152 years, Brown-Forman Corporation has built global powerhouse brands including: Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Whiskey, Jack Daniel’s & Cola, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Honey, Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Fire, Gentleman Jack, Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel, Finlandia, Korbel, el Jimador, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Herradura, New Mix, Sonoma-Cutrer, Chambord, BenRiach, GlenDronach, Slane, and Fords Gin. Brown-Forman’s brands are supported by over 4,800 employees and sold in more than 170 countries worldwide. For more information about the company, please visit https://www.brown-forman.com/.
About Old Forester Bourbon:
Old Forester is Brown-Forman’s founding brand, founded in 1870 by George Garvin Brown. Brown believed Old Forester was so pure and consistent that he sealed it, signed it, and pledged, “There is nothing better in the market.”