Old Forester, Bottled in Bond


Let’s close out not-single malt Scotch whisky week, and also the month, with a bourbon review. The bourbon in question is the long defunct Old Forester Bottled in Bond. Now, there is a more recent Old Forester Bottled in Bond: the 1897 Bottled in Bond, which was released in 2015. But this is not that one. This is from an earlier period. As per my bourbon informants, the split DSP (Distilled Spirits Plant) numbers marked on the sample label indicates that this was made after 1980—as that was when the bourbon going into Old Forester began to be distilled at DSP 354 (the Early Times distillery). The split DSP, I am told, likely suggests distillation at plant 354 (the 345 marked on the sample label is a typo) and bottling at the old plant 414; and I think I was also told that these split DSP releases began to show up in the late 1980s. At any rate, this could not have been released after 1995 as that is when the old Bottled in Bond release went away. Now, why can’t I just ask the person who organized this bottle split if they know more about it? Well, because I have no memory of who I acquired this from or when. I’ve checked with likely sources and have completely struck out. So, if you have any more insight into this matter please write in below. And now let’s find out if the bourbon in the bottle is worth any of this fuss of trying to establish its provenance.

Old Forester Bottled in Bond (50%; split DSP 354/414; from a bottle split)

Nose: Rich corn sweetness mixed with orange peel, apricot and honey. Sweeter and stickier on the second sniff with some toffee joining the party. Spicier notes rise up too: cinnamon, a bit of clove, a bit of aniseed, With time the fruit is redder (cherry). With a drop or two of water there’s more of the toffee and more of the orange and apricot again.

Palate: Comes in sweet but as I swallow the aniseed expands. The texture is fine; the bite is more from the oak than the alcohol. On the second sip the oak expands and the aniseed gets even stronger, with an added herbal note (mint, sage, dill). The herbal/spicy complex calms down with some time but the richer, stickier notes from the nose don’t really develop here. Water pushes the oak and spice/herbs back a little, but the latter come back as it sits again.

Finish: Long. A little bitter here as the oak and herbs fade out. Less oak, more herbs here with water.

Comments: I really liked the nose—neat and with water. The palate was not up to that mark, though water did improve it. Still, a pleasant bourbon and one I’d be happy to drink again.

Rating: 84 points.

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