Friday, March 8, 2019

Old Forester Kentucky Straight Rye Whisky

VITALS:
- $23
- 100 Proof
- NAS
- Kentucky

There seems to have been quite a bit of fanfare over this particular release from Brown-Forman. While Old Forester has had its Distillery Row series providing new bourbon releases, for the first time, Old Forester has put out a rye. Not only did they release a new product, but they released it at an incredibly affordable price, which made it very easy for a lot of people to justify taking a chance on it.

The Old Forester Rye is a higher barley mashbill than most ryes (65% rye, 20% malted barley and 15% corn). This has proven to be successful with other releases, Kentucky Owl, for example. It tends to be a slightly less spice, smoother and sweeter rye than the high rye counterparts. Perhaps that was part of the draw as well. Of course, Fred Minnick's feature in Forbes dubbing this "America's Best Value Whiskey" certainly sent a lot of people to the store to see what the hype was about. I was just excited to have a new product from one of of the big boys at an incredibly affordable price--and a rye at that!

The nose was interesting, and not quite what I was expecting in a rye. Right up front I got this burnt cherry smell (a bit weird, I know), along with a healthy dose of cinnamon and a light woody note. However, I also got a lot of bright orange, like orange blossom.  It reminded me of the Epcot ride that simulates a plane flying over the orange grove and you can smell the oranges in the air. I also got a light tobacco leaf note (likely from the barley), and later I picked up notes of pine and anise. Overall, the nose was bright and rich all at the same time.

As for flavor, the predominant flavors were vanilla and mint. In that way it comes across as very mellow, with light spice, and it certainly has a cooling note to it.  At times I also got a peppery spice at the tip of my tongue as the whiskey hit my mouth.

Mid-way through I started to get orange and brown sugar notes. Those seemed to couple with a dark chocolate bitterness, and it all worked really well together. The brown sugar seemed to temper the bitterness, while the orange added a nice splash of flavor that made this rye a bit unique. It was definitely sweet, but not without its spiciness.

This rye was a bit watery in texture, but it still carried a big punch of flavor. While it didn't last long on the finish, it was nonetheless easy to dive right back in for that next sip. As I finished my bottle, I also started to get some notes of black tea, and the light spiciness from earlier seemed to carry forward a bit more, turning into a sweet cinnamon.

By the time I finished the last sip, I was thinking I needed to grab a back-up. Luckily, though, this rye is supposed to be here for a while, and I hope that's the case. This was an excellent pour at an excellent price. Although it's been hyped, at least it's also very accessible (both in supply and in price).

Grade: B+

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