Old Forester 117 Series – Scotch Cask Finish Tasting Notes

If you have read this blog at all, you know that I’m a big fan of Old Forester. When I got the press release for the new Old Forester 117 release, I wanted to drive down to Kentucky and try to find myself a bottle. But I was lucky enough to receive a sample from Old Forester, so I didn’t have to make the trip (but I still might want to after tasting it).

Old Forester Distilling Co Box

My Expectations

This is my first tasting from a company outside of Traverse City, so I wasn’t sure what to expect once I accepted the offer to taste a sample. I got a shipping confirmation from FedEx and I waited patiently for the sample to arrive.

When I think of my go to bourbon (Old Forester 100), I think of a wonderful blend of oak and baking spices. When thinking of a higher end version of Old Forester, I just assume I’m going to get a little more refined version of the classic. When you toss in the addition of a scotch barrel finish, I start thinking I’m going to get a more nuanced flavor that is a little more heavy on the malt side. Every time I have had a scotch, I am always amazed at the light taste that carries a ton of different flavors.

Just look at this beauty.

So before I even taste this, I assume I’m going to taste a nice blend of what I’m used to and scotch. I imagine I’m going to get a little bit of chocolate, grain, and baking spices. I have no idea if I’m on the right track, but it’s my take and I’m sticking to it before giving it a taste.

I would like to disclose that I have received a sample of the bourbon mentioned in this review at no cost. It is important to note that I have not been compensated for providing a positive or negative evaluation of the product. The opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own and reflect my personal experience with the bourbon.

This review is intended to be an honest and unbiased assessment of the product based on its taste, aroma, and overall characteristics. The fact that I received the bourbon as a sample does not influence my judgment or opinions in any way. I believe in providing genuine and transparent feedback to my audience.

I want to assure readers that my goal is to offer valuable insights into the product and to share my authentic thoughts. It is always my priority to maintain integrity and objectivity in my reviews, regardless of how the product was acquired.

Please consider this disclaimer when reading the following review, and feel free to reach out if you have any questions regarding the review process or the provided sample.

Before Tasting Notes

Honestly I forgot what the press release said and I have no idea what I’m about to taste. This is as true of an honest opinion as possible. I’m not being influenced by tasting notes.

I received my little 2 ounce sampler and poured myself an 1 ounce pour. I decided to save a small pour for a friend of mine since he is also a big Old Forester fan. I tasted this neat in a Glencairn.

The color of the pour was a nice mahogany. I feel like I’m on an episode of Anchorman as I type that sentence.

Old Forester 117 Scotch Finish

The nose is a nice caramel, oak, vanilla, plus that little twist of scotch (I describe this as an earthy tone). It smells like I want to give it a taste.

My first taste is way more scotch forward than I was expecting and I’m not mad. My second taste confirms my initial description and I’m tasting a nice blending of a mellow scotch with a sweet and smoky backbone. I’m also getting some chocolate and some of the baking spices in the finish. I’m also getting a small hint of cherry that is sneaking through on the front and the sides of my tongue. I could argue a little bit of a coffee and a biscuit taste as well, but I’m not refined enough to know if I’m just bullshitting or not.

The Official Tasting Notes

If you would like to see the full press release, you can take a look at it here. I pulled out the tasting notes below:

Nose- subtle hints of smoky char, milk chocolate drizzled over shortbread accompanied by mulled,
spiced fruit

Taste- baked apples and dried fruits with rich notes of toffee, cinnamon and chocolate rounded out by
toasted almonds and smoky char

Finish- silky and buttery with cocoa and baking spices lingering into an earthy and oaky finish

I’m not mad comparing my description to the “official” tasting notes. I agree with the little bit of smoke, chocolate, shortbread (or biscuit), fruits, and baking spices. After reading it, I could also agree with the almond a bit, but I wasn’t sure how to describe this taste.

My Opinion

The 117 series is a limited-expression lineup that debuted in Spring 2021 and focuses on innovation and experimentation. I think this is a perfect example of what is supposed to happen from this line. It’s a perfect blending of something familiar, yet very different that starts to bridge the gap between bourbon and scotch.

It reminds me a lot of Keeper’s Heart (from a trip that I took to Minnesota), but a lot better and richer in flavor. It’s a little bit scotch and a little bit bourbon and a lot of bit of a burst of flavor.

For the price point of $59.99 a bottle, I am a fan. I know the 117 series is in a 375ML, but this is good, especially like scotch at all. I think it’s a must have if you are a scotch fan and would be a great gift if you could pick it up as a gift.

I’ll keep my eyes out for a bottle when I head down to Kentucky. I most likely won’t find one, but I’ll be excited if I do.


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