Old Forester is Celebrating 150 Years with 3 New Batch Proof Bourbons

Old Forester 150th. Courtesy Photo.

Old Forester is celebrating 150 years of bottled bourbon with a limited edition Old Forester 150th Anniversary Bourbon.

Old Forester is one of the longest continuously bottled brands in the industry, sold by the same family before, during, and after Prohibition. It’s founder, George Garvin Brown, became the first to bottle his bourbon in 1870, a time when most bourbon was sold by the barrel. Consumers could never be sure of what they were filling their bottle with from these barrels – “rectifiers” often mixed straight bourbon with grain neutral spirits or worse. So Brown sealed his bourbon in amber glass bottles and marked them with his signature, to ensure that his customers were getting the quality whiskey that he intended.

“In addition to being the first to exclusively sell whisky in sealed glass bottles, George was the first to commercially batch whisky to ensure a consistent flavor profile,” says Old Forester in a press release. “At the time, he batched from three distilleries – Mellwood, Mattingly and Atherton – before eventually acquiring the Mattingly Distillery and distilling his own whisky.”

The limited edition Old Forester 150th Anniversary Bourbon will come packaged in a commemorative tube. Courtesy Photo.

And now, 150 years later, the distillery is celebrating this milestone with three new Batch Proof offerings. Much like the distillery’s Birthday Bourbon, all three batches of Old Forester 150th Anniversary Bourbon consist of barrels from the same run of barrels distilled the same day and aged in the same place in the warehouse together.

While three of the 150 barrels laid down for this release were lost completely to evaporation, Master Taster Jackie Zykan took the remaining 147 barrels and blended them into three unique expressions, each with their own flavor profile. They’re bottled unfiltered and at Batch Proof – essentially meaning the same thing as barrel proof, but denoting that the bourbon is from a batch of barrels rather than a single barrel.

“This special bourbon has been in the works for some time now, and while it is exciting for our family and colleagues, I hope the larger Old Forester family – the bourbon lovers and fans – will appreciate it just as much,” said Campbell Brown, Old Forester President and Fifth-Generation Brown Family Member in a press release. “My great-great grandfather had quite the vision for his whisky. He was bringing something to the market that had previously not existed and today, we instill his legacy of ingenuity in everything we do – especially in the halls at Old Forester Distilling Co., in the same building George ran the business in the early days of the company.” 

“We designed the expression to share our unique story,” said Jackie Zykan, Old Forester Master Taster in a press release. “George Garvin Brown was an entrepreneur and an innovator. I have composed three unique blends to honor his process of batching from the three original distilleries. Each captures a distinct facet of the beloved Old Forester flavor profile, each upholding his highest standards of quality.”

Batch 01/03 is 125.6 proof, comprised of 46 barrels, and is the “fruit bomb.” On the nose, we’re told there’s “maple syrup and perfectly ripe orchard fruits, apricot and plum,” with “açaí and black current” on the palate and a finish that’s “graham cracker, subtle peppermint, long well-rounded spice, moderately dry.”

Batch 02/03 is 126.4 proof, comprised of 48 barrels, is “sweet and spry.” On the nose there’s “cherry cordial and raspberry preserves” with “French toast and chocolate malt” on the palate and a finish with “brilliant and perky spice at the front of the palate, touch of cedar, mildly dry.”

Batch 03/03 is 126.8 proof, comprised of 53 barrels and is “green and spice.” We’re told the nose has “dill and bright orange peel, hint of light brown sugar,” that “sweetens in the middle to melon and pine” with a finish that’s “medium dry, tingling green peppercorns, rosemary, grapefruit peel, and lingering anise.”

A limited amount of Old Forester 150th Anniversary Bourbon will begin arriving in October for a suggested retail price of around $150.

Caroline Paulus
Caroline Paulus is the Senior Editor for The Bourbon Review. She lives and writes in Lexington, Kentucky. Follow her on Instagram @misswhiskeyhistorian to keep up with her latest in bourbon news - and a few old finds, too.