As much as I search for rare whiskey and am always curious about bargain (under $20) whiskey, I think most of us are looking to add good quality whiskey that’s affordable ($30-50) to our liquor shelf. It’s with that in mind that we selected four bourbons to share at our monthly meeting last Monday evening.
Know Your Whiskey
Old Forester 1870 Original Batch
In 1870, Old Forester founder George Garvin Brown changed the whiskey industry by introducing bottling. Before this, whiskey was sold by the barrel which caused taste and quality to very greatly. Bottling brought about great progress by creating consistency from bottle to bottle. He chose his whiskey from three different distilleries to create a unique “batch.” With this proud history, Old Forester released 1870 Original Batch as the first in a new series called Whiskey Row. This bourbon is made up of barrels selected from three different warehouses. Each barrel has a different day of production as well as entry proof and aging period. Today this is common practice but in the 1800s it was revolutionary.
Russell’s Reserve Small Batch 10-year Old Bourbon
I reviewed this bourbon in depth a couple months ago. You can view that post here.
Bowman Brothers Small Batch Bourbon
Bowman Brothers is named after four brothers who served as Virginia militia officers in the American Revolutionary War. The company is owned by Buffalo Trace (Sazerac Company) and doesn’t make their own mash. They use Buffalo Trace Mash #2 that’s been distilled twice and re-distill it again before aging it in Fredericksburg, Virginia.
1792 Ridgemont Reserve
Kentucky became the 15th state to join the union in 1792, hence where 1792 Ridgemont Reserve gets it’s name. Like Bowman Brothers, this bourbon is also owned by the Sazerac Company. It originally held an age statement of 8 years but dropped that in December 2013, although they maintain it’s still aged at least eight years.
Our Tasting Notes
Old Forester has a bright nose with floral and rye notes. Up front there’s a lot of fruit followed by a hint of caramel sweetness that lasts into the finish. I also get some baking spices, definitely cinnamon and maybe some others I can’t quite put my finger on. There’s something missing here. It strikes me as a simple whiskey lacking complexity.
Russell’s Reserve: see note above.
Bowman Brothers has a light nose with applesauce and cinnamon being the predominant flavors. Definitely more of a classic bourbon taste than the Old Forester. Maple syrup and cinnamon dominate with hints of spice and oak on the finish. Not an overly complex or long finish but very good.
1792 has strong spice on the nose with lots of fruit. Much richer with a great mouthfeel and more complex than the others. Rye right up front just like on the nose. Followed by vanilla, caramel, dried oak. Mint and pepper come through after the beginning and start a long finish that’s sweet and delicious while still holding a touch of that spice. This is a very good bourbon with a lot of character.
The Collective Favorite
Bowman Brothers and 1792 took most of the votes with Bowman Brothers edging out the latter by three. I was a little surprised here because I think Russell’s Reserve is a great bourbon and I thought more would enjoy it.
Thanks to everyone who came last week! To join us at future tastings, sign up on our email list at seattlewhiskeycollective.com