Old Forester Rye Review [In Depth]
Old Forester Rye
Old Forester Rye Details
Distillery: Old Forester (Brown Forman)
Type & Region: Straight Rye, Kentucky, USA
Composition: 65% Rye, 20% Malted Barley, and 15% Corn
Aged: At least 4 years old
Color: 1.3/2.0 on the color scale (russet muscat)
From the Old Forester website:
“A historic recipe, acquired in 1940 by Owsley Brown I, Old Forester Rye features a mash bill of 65% Rye, 20% Malted Barley, and 15% Corn. Such a high proportion of barley allows for a fully natural fermentation process, forgoing the need for artificial enzymes commonly found in high rye mash bills. Additionally, a generous percentage of malt yields a unique floral character, balancing the sharp, brisk spice of the rye grain. Continuing our legacy of quality and consistency, Old Forester uses its own proprietary yeast strain, produces every barrel, and distills every drop”
old forester rye overview
Old Forester Rye maybe one of the newer Brown Forman whiskeys, but the owner of Old Forester is not new to rye whiskey. They’ve been making other ryes whiskey such as Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye and Woodford Reserve Rye for years (with 70% and 53% rye respectively).
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old forester rye smell
Old Forester Rye is quite dark with caramel, baked bread, and licorice with hints of vanilla, orange, and apple. This is not a bright and tropical anise-forward rye that I’ve gotten used to drinking, and is even less rye-y than Rittenhouse, which I consider to be in the middle of the rye-y spectrum.
Swirling brings out the heat, but it does settle after a few seconds, letting me smell the same sweet caramel with a lot of baked bread crust and grain. The maltiness reinforces its youth, but it’s nice.
old forester rye taste & aftertaste
At first taste, I get caramel, vanilla, oak, cinnamon, slightly burnt bread, and a little citrus with some alcohol kick, but not too much. For the most part Old Forester Rye tastes like high-rye bourbon. The flavors are similar after “chewing”, but become a little more interesting.
I speculate that all this baked breadiness comes from the uniquely high amount of malted barley in the mash. Digging a little harder, I find a piece of baked apple with a spring of mint, but it’s easy enough to miss as it competes with some of the alcohol bite.
The finish is sweet and bitter with caramel, vanilla, bread, oak, and a shred of orange. With “chewing”, there’s still the same mix of sweet honey and bitter roasted oak on a small piece of rye bread, minty frosting, and lemon.
Old Forester Rye Rating
I pleasantly surprised to say that Old Forester Rye is pretty good. It’s one of the darker and more bready rye whiskeys that I’ve had, unique compared to the super high rye MGP-sourced rye whiskeys and the barely legal 51% ryes from the likes of Buffalo Trace and Wild Turkey.
There are interesting tidbits to be found in this well rounded rye, but it tends to be a little more straightforward than what I would want from a higher rated “Mid Shelf+” rye whiskey. It’s definitely not bland, but keeps the scents and flavors at surface level without much depth or evolution afterwards.
Speaking of Brown Forman rye for under $30, I suggest that you go for this Old Forester Rye and skip Jack Daniel’s Tennessee Rye, which I really don’t like. Old Forester Rye is the superior whiskey and carries itself well for a “budget” rye.
I probably wouldn’t buy this again for myself though because I prefer Knob Creek Rye. I also prefer the MGP and Alberta-sourced nearly 100% ryes because of their abundant bright, herbal, and tropical notes (e.g., pre 2018 batches of High West Double Rye).
Still, I recommend Old Forester Rye to anyone who’s looking to get into rye and/or try something new.
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