Here lately Old Forester seems to be a brand that is on the rise. While I don't see them ever getting the same kind of silly overhyped attention as a distillery like Buffalo Trace, they have had a steady trend of well received releases that seem to be produced with enthusiasts in mind. As a whole, I generally like their products - Signature is decent for the price, 1910 was an interesting change of pace, and 1920 is a terrific all around bourbon that I regularly buy at least a few times a year. They really only have one product I don't care for and that is the limited edition Birthday Bourbon. After trying at least a dozen vintages, I've given up on ever liking it as all I ever taste is bitter acetone.
So here today we have another newish product released by them in early 2019 in the form of a rye whiskey. It didn't take long for it to start generating a good bit of low level praise, so based on that and the other positive trends I was seeing for Old Forester releases I figured it was worth picking up. While there is no age statement, 100 proof is very modest and there wasn't much risk considering the low asking price. Also of note is the rather unusual mashbill here: 65% rye, 20% barley, 15% corn. That's a little bit higher rye than your typical barely legal 51% Kentucky ryes but the more interesting part is the large percentage of barley which may lend to some cereal note characteristics.
Kentucky Straight Rye Whiskey; No Age Statement; 50% ABV; $25
Nose: Zesty rye notes like pine, clove, and eucalyptus. Some light florals and a sweetness that has minty bubblegum coming to mind. Definitely breathes like a highish rye influenced whiskey. There is a decent amount of oaky wood influence here and not a lot of overpowering grainy new make notes.
Taste: Upfront starts with your typical woody sweets which then transitions into a rye prominence of baking spices/clove. In the finish the wood sweets transform into a darker cocoa vibe and the spice remains though it's not overpowering. Throughout all are the tell-tale banana notes that I get in every Brown Forman whiskey I've ever had which at this point I think has to be due to their yeast. It drinks pretty easy for 100 proof. I would guess this is a little older than the bare minimum of four years for no age statement, maybe 6ish years.
Thoughts: I like this. It's not going to blow you away as an intensely spicy rye nor is the the most nuanced whiskey but it's good as an affordable daily sipper and it works really well in cocktails. For the longest time Rittenhouse was my cocktail rye of choice back when it was still being contract distilled at Brown Forman but these days the Heaven Hill version tastes young and green/earthy to me. This product is considerably better than that and as a bonus, it's cheaper. Hats off to Old Forester for knocking another one out of the park.
Note that price is not considered when assigning a rating.