In a nutshell: a pioneering whiskey brand with a film related tipple. This bottle was produced as a tie-in with Kingsman: Golden Circle and surprised punters the world over with just how tasty it is. Typically film and tv tie-ins can be a bit of a let down, but this complex, citrusy and leathery whisky deserves its gold medals.
The brand: Old Forester is an ancient brand with a proud history of firsts and perseverance. It has adapted and not only survived but succeeded in the face of some of the biggest challenges and crises which have faced the American whiskey industry.
The business was founded in 1870 by George Garvin Brown, a pharmaceutical salesman born in Kentucky. His decision to move into the bourbon industry is said to be down to his work selling medicines; legend has it that the brand is named after Dr William Forester, a physician Brown knew who endorsed the drinking of whiskey.
The first bottles of Old Forester were made from batches of bourbon from three distilleries: Mattingly, Mellwood, and Atherton. Bottled in glass at 90 proof, Brown would personally hand sign each bottle to guarantee its quality. The first major adaptation made by the company came with the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897, the law required bourbon to be 100 proof and made from one distillery during one season. Brown responded by purchasing the Mattingly distillery in 1901.
As is often the case with game changing innovations, Old Forester made the first double barreled bourbon somewhat accidentally. A fire on the bottling line caused production to shut down and large volumes of whiskey had to be returned to the barrel whilst the line was repaired, the now trailblazing ‘Very Old Fine Whiskey’ was born out of serendipity.
Not even prohibition could stop the Browns. The distillery was one of a few operations given a license to sell and manufacture whiskey during the barren period – it is the only one still operating today, making Old Forester the only bourbon continually sold by the same company before, during and after prohibition. The company has gone from strength to strength over the years, with the Brown family at the heart of the business. 2015 saw Campbell Brown named as president of the firm, the 5th generation of the Brown family carrying on his great-great-grandfather’s legacy.
The whisky: the Old Forester Statesman bourbon was created as a tie in with the film Kingsman: Golden Circle. This bottle is a rarity in that the whiskey was arguably received better than the film. Whilst the Kingsman sequel was met with mixed reviews, Old Forester Statesman scooped the top prize at the Spirits Business American Whiskey Masters in 2017.
This expression is made using hand-picked casks of Kentucky Straight Bourbon whiskey with only barrels from the warmest parts of the warehouse used. The result is a deep, dark, decadent bourbon with a nose full of black cocoa and bonfire smoke. The palate is full bodied and complex, tobacco wrapped in worn leather is brightened by orange peel, sweet honey and chewy caramel, all warmed by cinnamon spice. The finish is long and dominated by baking spices.