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Monday, January 4, 2016

Sipp’n Corn Bourbon Review – Old Forester Single Barrel at Butchertown Grocery

Louisville has had a thriving restaurant scene for decades, which has paired perfectly with our love of Bourbon.  Now, just east of downtown in the Butchertown neighborhood – and a stone’s throw from Copper and Kings – Butchertown Grocery is our newest culinary star, with Chef Bobby Benjamin nailing the interplay between creativity and approachability.

Butchertown Grocery also has an ambitious beverage program headed by Marie Zahn.  While still working on expanding its Bourbon selection, Butchertown Grocery opened with fantastic cocktail options, including entirely different cocktail menus downstairs and upstairs; downstairs focuses on classic cocktails and upstairs is more modern and adventurous.  The upstairs cocktail menu is helpfully arranged from easiest-drinking to strongest, and sweet to dry, plus, a bespoke cocktail program allows guests to choose three words from a menu, which are then used to create a custom cocktail.

I went back to Butchertown Grocery for Bourbon, though, and the Old Forester Single Barrel Private Selection in particular, to see if the Bourbon selection could match the culinary side of the menu.

Bourbon:
Old Forester Single Barrel Private Selection

Distillery:
Brown-Forman, Louisville, Kentucky

Age:
6 ½ years for this barrel
Barreled May 11, 2009
Lot ID:  09 E 11

Mash Bill:
72% corn; 18% rye; 10% malted barley

ABV:
Bottled at 45% (90 proof), and 67.5% out of the barrel

Cost:
$12.00 / 2 oz. standard pour

Tasting Notes

Color:
Reddish amber, but the room was dark. 

Nose:
Rich caramel, honey, and candle wax up front, followed by pecans (reminiscent of the classic New Orleans Praline), and balanced with slight leather.

Taste:
Caramel and honey sweetness are the primary features, dominating the sweet profile (without any fruit sweetness).  The rye comes through nicely, along with leather and polished wood as hinted in the aroma, and toasted candied nuts.  It’s not particularly complex or assertive, which should make it a crowd-pleaser.

Finish:
The finish was medium in length, with nice, lingering warmth.  Oak became more noticeable in the finish, without being overly-woody.  While the finish was overall dry, it still had a pleasant fading caramel sweetness and a hint of fig pastry.

Bottom Line

Old Forester is sometimes lovingly referred to as “Louisville’s House Bourbon,” and for good reason.  It is one of the absolute best values on the quality/cost matrix, and when you drink as much Bourbon as we do in Kentucky, not everything can be a Limited Edition.  Old Forester works well in cocktails (especially the Old Fashioned), neat, or on ice, which isn’t true of all Bourbons.

It’s always nice to mix it up between the different Old Forester proof options, an occasional Birthday Bourbon Limited Edition, and great private barrels like Butchertown Grocery’s.  This private barrel had less of the corn flavors than I typically find in both the 86 proof and 100 proof Old Forester options, and none of the fruitiness, but it had much more caramel, which is one of the dynamics that I love about single barrels.

After proofing down, the barrel produced 225 bottles, so you’ll have several months to try this Old Forester at Butchertown Grocery.  On the other hand, there’s really no reason to wait when both the restaurant and the Bourbon are outstanding.

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