Today, we bring you a bourbon review surrounded by our own unfounded speculation.
Old Forester’s The Statesman was first released in Kentucky in May 2017. Its nationwide release occurred in August, in advance of the September 2017 release of Kingsman: The Golden Circle, which featured the “Statesman,” which is a “a secret American organization posing as a bourbon whiskey distally in Kentucky.”
The Statesman is described by Old Forester as “bold flavor blended to a smooth 95 proof from hand-selected casks of our famed Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky from the warmest places in the warehouse.” While The Statesman is a non-age stated product, sources point to a blend of 4-6 year bourbons, from Old Forester’s standard 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley.
And now the speculation….
In February 2016, Old Forester applied for TTB label approval for its fourth iteration of the Whiskey Row Series (TTB is the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, which regulates the federal government’s label approval process). That product would be called the “1910” and would purportedly be “barrel finished” at 90 proof. Approval was given on March 8, 2016. To date that product has never been released.
In October 2016, Old Forester applied for TTB label approval for the Statesman product; approval would be granted in November. Could it be that the negations between Old Forester (Brown-Forman) and Kingsman movie producers resulted in a shift of product from a 1910 to a Statesman release? Or could it be that Brown-Forman didn’t want to release a product that wouldn’t stand up to the incredible success seen in its three previous Whiskey Row Series releases?
While we may never know the answer (we did our diligence and emailed Brown-Forman, who has been responsive in the past, but they did not return my email after several days), we can provide you Chris Crow and my reviews:
Nose: Caramel; dry oak; vanilla; leather; floral; cherry; rye grain; light ethanol burn that is just enough to tell you the 95 proof is there; a hint of young corn/oak that hasn’t quite aged out. (4/5)
Palate: Salty caramel; vanilla pudding; new oak; cherry and apple; light rye and baking spice (cinnamon-sugar and clove); creamy. (3.5/5)
Finish: Medium-long, with a coating mouthfeel finish; Brown sugar; sawdust; some lingering faint caramel chews and fruit leather; more herbal/lforal notes; a bit drying but not bitter or tanic. (3/5)
Overall: The Old Forester Statesman is an enjoyable 4-6 year old bourbon with enough character to keep me coming back. The creaminess and medium-long finish offset an experience that otherwise comes across as a bit young. While I wouldn’t call this particularly balanced, there are elements of sweetness, spiciness and fruitiness that are quite enjoyable. (3.5/5)
Value: While this is an interesting pour, I just can’t say that it holds up to its price tag. Notable youth is its primary flaw. With each sip, I’m reminded that I could be enjoying within the same family the Old Forester 1920 or 1897 at essentially the same price (or possibly a few dollars cheaper with the 1897). It is pleasing from start to finish, but there is far too much competition in the $50+ price range, and this just doesn’t meet those expectations. (2.5/5)
“The Old Forester Statesman is an enjoyable 4-6 year old bourbon with enough character to keep me coming back. While this is an interesting pour, I just can’t say that it holds up to its price tag.”
Scott is a co-founder of Flight Club and a frequent writer and reviewer on the Club’s blog.