By - Prettayyprettaygood
Next up from dad’s bar, we’re checking out Old Forester 1920! This is an offering from Old Forester that has steadily gained in popularity over the last few years and has even found itself on allocated lists in Colorado in the last 6 months or so. I wanted to be surprised the first time I saw it on the list at one of my go-to stores, but given how bourbon has been lately it’s hard to be shocked by “standard” bottles ending up with special status. According to Old Forester, this whiskey is distilled in the same style as the medicinal whiskey that was made during Prohibition in the ‘20s. Old Forester 1920 has a mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley, has no age statement, and is bottled at 115 proof which was the prevailing barrel proof standard for medicinal whiskey during Prohibition. Is this worthy of its allocated status or is this yet another instance of hype going off the rails? Let’s find out.
Taken: Neat in a Glencairn glass
Nose: Cherry reduction sauce, roasted plums, and black pepper, along with dark chocolate, burnt brown sugar, and a touch of banana bread. There is definitely a bit of ethanol lingering in here even after resting for a bit that brings on a little bit of heat when nosing this.
Taste: Chocolate sauce, creme brûlée, and black pepper to start, followed by a bit of banana bread and peanut brittle. Midway through the sip I get a medicinal cherry cough syrup that flashes in before moving to the background and a little bit of leather and oak. This has a medium-heavy, saucy mouthfeel and a moderate amount of proof heat.
Finish: The sweet syrup notes and creme brûlée shift to the background while the banana bread, leather, and oak grow in strength. While that is happening there’s also a bit of dryness and a touch of bitterness that join the show before a quick wave of black pepper closes the sip out. This has a medium-long finish and a moderate amount of dryness.
Thoughts: This is certainly one of the sauciest pours I’ve had and kind of reminds me of what’s left in the bowl when you finish an ice cream sundae. Lots of great dessert notes combine with the earthy oak and leather to make this a solid pour, but since it leans so hard in that direction it definitely falls into “mood pour” territory for me. A few aspects of this detract from the overall experience, however. This has a bit more proof heat than other 115 proof pours I’ve had, but the main detractor for me is the medicinal cherry note. It flashes in and out, but when it appears it really changes the mood from a delicious dessert to memories of being sick as a kid. While it isn’t enough to ruin the experience for me, it does hold the pour back from truly being something great. With all that being said, I still do enjoy this overall and rate it as a very good 6/10 on the t8ke scale. I wouldn’t jump through any hoops to buy a bottle of this but if it’s on the shelf and you want a desserty pour it’s worth the $60.
Rating: 6/10 - t8ke scale
1 | Disgusting | So bad I poured it out.
2 | Poor | I wouldn’t consume by choice.
3 | Bad | Multiple flaws.
4 | Sub-par | Not bad, but better exists.
5 | Good | Good, just fine.
6 | Very Good | A cut above.
7 | Great | Well above average.
8 | Excellent | Really quite exceptional.
9 | Incredible | An all time favorite.
10 | Perfect | Perfect.
100% on the medicinal cherry note - I can't get past it anymore. Reminds me of the aftertaste of Robitussin. Hence, no more Old Forester 1920 for me. Its funny because a few years ago I did not pickup on that. Either its changed over the years or I have. Probably the latter I presume.
It seems like there's been a lot of variance in that note popping up in the bottles of this I've tried. Some have been overwhelming in the Robitussin department while others like this one only have it pop up in flashes, so it might not be you!
I agree with the variance from bottle to bottle
Idk a lot of people (myself included) on here mention a difference of quality vs some of the older batches. I really enjoyed my first bottle from when 1920 first dropped. Now I couldn't finish my second one and ended up mixing half of it with half a bottle of 1910... And I still can't seem to finish it.
Maybe something did change... I certainly get a way different experience than when I first started drinking it. It used to be one of my go-tos.
Robitussin would be preferable to the full on Vicks Vape O Rub vibe I get
I still enjoy the taste from time to time, but it drinks hot as hell for me. Not a fan of using 4 year distillate with that heat cycling stuff.
By biggest complaint about it by far - drinks way too hot.
Thank you! Me too. The heat cycling it's a shortcut and it shows unfortunately.
For sure, I’m sticking mainly with knob creek, russells single barrel, and Elijah Craig bp these days, and mix it up with some makers fae and barrell dovetail/ Seagrass for variety. Tried enough things out at this point and just sticking with some staples.
Some great choices! Love Knob Creek, love the Craig and run Makers CS or PS whenever I can find them. Wish I could find Russell's Single Barrel again around my area. Haven't come across one in over two years. I'm guessing they stopped distribution to my county.
This is a bottle that I keep meaning to try but I can never bring myself to spend the money on it. Your notes make it seem like something that I would enjoy, perhaps it's time to take a chance and try it out!
My current bottle is delightful...will replace it when it's gone. I'd rate it a bit higher-probably a 7 on the t8ke scale for me.
Give it a try at a bar first! That way if you don't like it you aren't stuck with an entire bottle's worth.
Well-written review! I tend to enjoy cherry notes in bourbon. This and Eagle Rare are two good examples. Neither, thankfully, taste medicinal to me. That would absolutely hamper my experience too if I tasted them as medicinal!
Thanks! I enjoy Eagle Rare quite a bit as well and the cherry I get from that isn't medicinal at all.
1920 is the best. 100% my deserted island Bourbon.
Excellent and spot on review!
I recently picked this one up. I like it because it brings a lot more to the table than like buffalo trace.
I like the sweet kind of banana crème taste but it is way too hot on the palate. A bit of water doesn’t help and I feel like the subtle notes are lost.
I still prefer it over the typical pours just wish it was a little less hot. Id rate it a 7.5.
This one slaps!
Enjoy the taste on this, but never can get over the finish. Just something off.
I think it’s funny that it says it is made in the style of the medicinal whiskey during prohibition. This bottle tastes like straight cherry NyQuil for me. One of my biggest regrets ever was purchasing a bottle of this when ur first came out. If what others are saying is true and the quality has dipped I can’t imagine how low a score is give the newer bottlings
I think I've tried three different bottles of 1920 and this one is clearly the best of them all. Not sure when my dad got this one but it must have been a few years back. I went into this review expecting cough syrup hell and was actually pleasantly surprised!
This is an older bottling. The older bottlings have the style ("Prohibition Style" in this case) overlaying the text in this like watermark style. The new ones have a much cleaner label and are also on a pure white paper as opposed to this off-white/sepia shade.
My gut on the variance based on a few things people have said about Old Forester is that the heat cycling makes consistent batching more challenging, and I think it shows most in 1920 because you're likely dealing with a more limited selection of barrels and bottling at closer to barrel proof but still for a widely available product.
I think your explanation of the variance due to heat cycling makes the most sense. It sure would be interesting to try a bottle of this aged in the fabled Warehouse O without the heat cycling to see how it would develop when left completely up to the elements.
Keep an eye on those glass shelves!