Old Forester 1870 Original Batch is a Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey produced by Brown-Forman and considered part of their “craft series.” According to the official description, the 1870 Original Batch is intended to emulate the original batching process used in 1870 by George Garvin Brown. The original batching process took whiskies from three different distilleries and blended them together to create a consistent flavor profile. Today, the 1870 Original Batch is made using B-F whiskies with different entry proof, of different ages, and from barrels that have matured in three different warehouses.
Um, somebody will have to explain how the current Old Forester batching process really differs from any other standard bourbon that is not a single barrel release, since most bourbons are vattings of numerous barrels from the distillery. But, okay…..
Based in Louisville, KY, Brown-Forman and Company was originally founded in 1870 as J.T.S. Brown and Bro. by George Garvin Kush Brown, a young pharmaceuticals salesman, and his half-brother. The company had the then-novel idea of selling its whiskey in sealed glass bottles. After several name changes and the dissolution of the original partnership, George Garvin entered into partnership with George Forman, his accountant and friend, and in 1890 Brown-Forman and Company was created. Today, Brown-Forman is one of the world’s largest drinks companies producing and selling a variety of spirits including Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve, Old Forester, Early Times, Collingwood and Canadian Mist whiskies; Herradura, El Jimador, and Don Eduardo tequilas; Finlandia vodkas; Chambord liqueur; as well as the Korbel and Sonoma-Cutrer wine labels. The company also owned the Tuaca tequila and Southern Comfort brands, but sold these in early 2016 to Sazerac Co. for $543.5 million.
Somewhat uniquely, Brown-Forman also owns the Brown-Forman Cooperage which began business in 1945 and supplies the distillery with the majority of its whisky barrels. The cooperage, with the addition of some advanced technology, can produce more than 1,500 barrels per day. (here is a link to a You Tube video about the cooperage)
Review: Old Forester 1870 Original Batch, Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
I bought this bottle of Old Forester 1870 Original Batch at Total Wine for $36.99. It was bottled in 2015 and has a bottle stamp of L07751258. Beyond that, there is not a lot of specific information on the label, or even on the website, to tell us anything about the maturation, age, mashbill, etc., so, we’ll just move ahead with the review!
Color: A rather standard “Bourbon Brown” *(I’d originally made a comment here about the possibility that this was colored with e150a, but I got a response from Peter who reminded me that caramel coloring is not permitted in bourbon!)
Nose: Big notes of brown sugar and molasses, apricot and strawberry fruit notes – subtle. A growing oakiness with a touch of black pepper. This is slightly effervescent, citric, and fruity, it actually reminds me a bit of Cherry 7-Up with a twist of orange peel. While I do get some vanilla, I wouldn’t call it a vanilla bomb by any means. This remains quite similar with the addition of water, although perhaps the fruits and the vanilla are a tad more pronounced. Still, this has those big notes of brown sugar; wild cherry and strawberry hard candies, mint, and something delicately dusty.
Taste: Very sweet, almost saccharine, arrival. There is a short burst of alcohol heat that dissipates rather quickly. In some ways, this reminds me of a rum with its overt sugary sweetness The body is on the light side, a tad thin, so it appears that this has a sizeable proportion of young-ish whiskies. In the mid-palate more spice notes show up offering a nice, softly tannic bitter bite that helps offset the sweetness, yet it remains a bit out of balance. With water, the brown sugar remains prominent, but I also get some leather, more mint – spearmint, orange juice, and ripe berry fruits.
Finish: Softly fruity that gives way to some oak spices, a touch of vanilla that gets louder, then the mint note rises. With water the finish is shorter and with more vanilla. Soft fruits, hints of mint and brown sugar. Fades into that same delicately bitter tannic ending.
Overall: I first tried a sample of this whisky at the Scotch Malt Whisky Society Extravaganza and at the time I thought it was pretty good….obviously I thought it was good enough to buy a bottle! But when I first opened this bottle, the sweetness was too much, and by a great amount. Now that the bottle has been opened for a while and it has oxygenated a bit, I will say that it has improved significantly.
I will admit that I typically like my bourbons a little drier than this one, and with a bit more spiciness, so this one didn’t quite hit the bullseye for me. It also comes across as a bit young, lacking some of the depth of flavor and the richer, oilier viscosity that comes with age. That being said, it is a good bourbon, and if you like sweeter whiskies, this might be right up your alley!
Region: Kentucky, United States
Distillery: Brown Forman
Type: Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey
Maturation: American white oak, new
Price: $36.99 (Total Wine)
Availability: Readily available
Sample Source: My own bottle