Old Forester B&B Private Barrel 100 Proof Bourbon
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In line with their recent, and due, reappraisal in the bourbon community after the successes of the Whiskey Row series and the debut of their Rye, Old Forester has updated their private single barrel program as well. Formerly available only at 90 proof, it now comes bottled at 100 proof, or barrel strength, as the whiskey drinker's palate has gradually shifted toward favoring the experience of a higher proof dram. Single barrel selections are always exciting for offering a unique look into a distillery's style, without any blending or alteration. After trying a few single barrel bottlings from a producer, it feels like you've had a sneak peek into what comes off their stills and slowly morphs in their barrels, and you start to form your own opinions, feelings, and associations with them. Old Forester moving the proof up on their single barrel program means we can get a better sense of this, and a more full, sensuous drinking experience overall, which is really what it all comes down to.
We decided to go with a 100 proof bottling, and what a lovely little bourbon baby it is. The nose greets you with Old Forester's signature cherries, oatmeal raisin cookies, sweet corn, and honey. The body is viscous and full, coming off as more than 5% ABV higher than the previous single barrel releases. Your palate is tickled immediately upon sipping with light spice, and the tickling doesn't stop, as if you had some left over pop rocks in your cheeks that just got activated. Cinnamon sugar, dark cherries, cola, leather, blackberries, butter crackers, clove, and charred oak tannin make for a classic bourbon profile, with extra amplitude lent to the proceedings. The finish picks back up with those cherries, along with saltines and an herbal rye hint. A spectacular update and barrel, perfect for a subtly proofed down evening, and a fantastic showcase for rich bourbon flavors enveloped in a slightly drier oak profile.