COWS Old Forester Single Barrel, Barrel Proof Pick Review by Todd Sarver

While we all like surprises during the holiday season – the earlier than expected release of the COWS Single Barrel, Barrel Proof is a great way to ring in the New Year.  This pick, which COWS obtained when another group backed out, was the holy grail of picks for the COWS founder, Eric Smith.  Accordingly, it is appropriately named: “COWS Founder’s Favorite.” While it is hard to go wrong with an Old Forester Barrel Proof pick, we think this one is truly special.

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NAME – Old Forester Single Barrel, Barrel Proof

PROOF – 131

AGE – 5 years, 9 months

COLOR – Auburn, polished mahogany (1.5 on the Whiskey Magazine Color Chart)

NOSE – There is a lot going on.  Right up front there is Banana Foster with a coating of brown sugar and a French Vanilla cream.  The sweetness is balanced out by soft worn leather and oak char.

TASTE – The palate is complex and a fun ride.  This is a very buttery bourbon with a great mouth feel. On the front I get a creamy banana pudding with a sprinkle of brown sugar.  That transitions into a chocolate covered cherry note in the middle before fading into a leather note on the back. The banana note reappears as well.  While you certainly get some heat from the proof point on this pick – it does not drink like a 130+ proof bourbon

FINISH – I would describe this as a longer finish.  While the oak and leather notes linger on the back, after a little bit a soft banana note reappears.  You certainly get some peppery spice notes, but it is not overwhelming.

REVIEW – Again, it is hard to go wrong on an Old Forester Barrel Proof pick.  We had 3 barrels to choose from.  And while it was a tight vote initially between barrels 2 & 3, our pick (barrel 3) had a much more complex and unique aroma and taste profile and the higher proof point.  Ian, our Old Forester guide on the pick, commented that he liked our pick as it has a unique profile versus the usual Old Forester.  This is one you will definitely not want to miss.

FINAL COMMENTS – The mash bill for Old Forester is 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley.  With that level of rye, this is generally regarded as a “high rye” Kentucky bourbon.  While you get some heat from the rye and the proof point, overall this is a complex, balanced pour.

Reviewed by Todd Sarver

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