The Volstead Act of 1920 which initiated Prohibition in the USA granted permits to six distillers in Kentucky to continue to bottle bourbon for medicinal purposes. Through one of these permits, Old Forester continued to be produced as medicinal whiskey on Louisville’s famed Whiskey Row. It is the only bourbon continuously sold by the same company that has been available for sale before, during and after Prohibition.
During this time, all whiskies had to be bottled at 100 Proof. With a barrel entry proof of 100, the “angel’s share” would have created a 115 proof whiskey after maturation. To pay homage to this era, Old Forester presents 1920 Prohibition Style Bourbon at 115 proof to represent the rich flavor profile this bourbon had nearly 100 years ago.
Color: A beautiful golden amber—the age isn’t stated, but judging by color alone, the liquid has had plenty of interaction with the barrel.
Nose: With rich caramel, vanilla, pear and dark cherries, underpinned by light oak, there’s plenty of alcohol, as well, not surprising given the whiskey’s high proof. But the alcohol doesn’t overwhelm the beautifully balanced aroma.
Palate: It has rich vanilla and burnt caramel, somewhat reminiscent of a creme brûlée. The sweetness is offset by dry notes of oak and char. There are hints of sweet cherry candy, which become more pronounced when a bit of water is added. The high proof is evident on the palate, but the warmth never becomes a burn.
Finish: Quite dry; the barrel notes of oak and char grow stronger from the tip of the tongue to the back of the palate, and by the finish, they’ve taken over completely. A long and dry tobacco aftertaste brings to mind a robust cigar.