Old Forester 1910 is, reportedly, the Whiskey Row series’ final release. However, some have wondered if it was always intended to be.
Old Forester launched the Whiskey Row series in 2014 with the 1897 Small Batch. In 2015, the series continued with 1897 Bottled-in-Bond. 2016 brought the 1920 Prohibition Style. Then, in 2017, Old Forester seemed to break course by releasing The Statesman, a 95-proof bourbon released in conjunction with the movie Kingsman: The Golden Circle.
We hypothesized that something went sideways with what was originally intended to be the final Whiskey Row series release. And, instead of peddling a product that would be unable to properly follow the success of Old Forester 1920, the brand took the opportunity to pair a new release with a movie.
Each bottle in the Whiskey Row series signifies something historically significant for Old Forester. The 1870 “Original Batch” blends three batches of barrels from different warehouses to simulate the blending that Old Forester first utilized from three different distilleries. The 1897 “Bottled-in-Bond” obviously pays homage to the Bottled-in-Bond Act. Then, the 1920 “Prohibition Style” was bottled at 115 proof, which is the same proof that Old Forester used for its bourbon when it was granted license to continue distillation during Prohibition.
For the Old Forester 1910 “Old Fine Whisky,” there is another twist.
For this bottle, Old Forester applied a finishing technique. Barrels containing at least 4-year old bourbon were dumped into barrels with a higher char level. Old Forester typically chars its barrels for about 20 seconds. For the second barreling, the char was applied for 55 seconds. Old Forester claims the barrel was charred nearly to the point of incineration (though, interestingly, it is the same char level used by Buffalo Trace).
The additional time in the second higher-char barrel, and the increase in proof from 90 to 93, are the defining characteristics for this last release in the Whiskey Row series.
We decided to sample this alongside the Statesman, which is 95 proof, for helpful context.
Old Forester 1910 “Old Fine Whisky” (NAS, 93 proof).
Nose: Banana custard or cream pie. Caramel. Charred marshmallow. Must. Pecan pie. A savory scent with more air time. Some red wine. (4/5)
Palate: Some complexity here with a combination caramel and butterscotch., along with some sweeter notes of buttercream frosted sugar cookies. (3.5/5)
Finish: The vanilla frosting continues with some charred notes, banana, and a hint of nickel. Some fruit cobbler. (3.5/5)
Value: This retails locally for about $55. At that price, this offers something unique and satisfying, both for bourbon generally and for Old Forester specifically. (3.5/5)
Overall: A nice finale to a welcomed series from Old Forester. Not a brand necessarily known for its creativity, the Whiskey Row series has been fun and enjoyable. The Old Forester 1910 caps things off in satisfying fashion. (3.5/5)
Old Forester “The Statesman” (NAS, 95 proof)
Nose: Sharper oak. Ethanol. Caramel. Vanilla. Cherry. White sugar. Metal.
Palate: Stinging white sugar. Vanilla custard. Caramel. Metal. Oily. Butter. Banana. Vanilla pudding.
Finish: White sugar. Caramel. Metal. Frozen banana.
Comparison to Old Forester 1910: From start to finish, Old Forester 1910 is a better experience. The Statesman is much sweeter and has some stronger ethanol notes, more so than the negligible increase in proof would suggest. The Statesman could be identified blind as an Old Forester product, while the same thing may not be said for the Old Forester 1910.
Gentlemen devoted to the finest.