Old Forester King Ranch Bourbon Review - Bourbon Culture (2023)

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When I first saw the leaked TTB label of Old Forester King Ranch Bourbon on the Coming Whiskey Instagram page, I thought it was a joke. It’s not like bourbon and Texas don’t belong together, but this one seemed so gimmicky. Then I remembered about another Old Forester product that had many enthusiasts thinking the same thing a few years ago: Old Forester Statesman. That one has lived on from novelty movie tie-in to a permanent addition to their portfolio.

Old Forester King Ranch Bourbon

To give the quick synopsis of the media release that Old Forester put out, they wanted this one-time release of their bourbon to celebrate a collaboration between their involvement in the Kentucky Derby (think Mint Juleps specifically) and a well-known horse ranch that has seen its fair share of its thoroughbreds participate in said event. I’m sure it didn’t hurt that King Ranch already has dabbled in marketing its own name for other products as well. The mesquite wood used in the charcoal (more on that in a minute) was sourced from King Ranch’s own land.

(Video) Old Forester King Ranch Bourbon Review!

Old Forester King Ranch Bourbon Review - Bourbon Culture (1)

From a macro level, this bourbon really does tie in everything Brown Forman (owners of Old Forester, Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve) does well. At 105 proof, it’s not going to be too strong for a new drinker, but it also shouldn’t be too weak for the average bourbon enthusiast. It also occupies a proof point that no other Old Forester product uses currently. Charcoal filtration is a skill that Jack Daniel’s specializes in, so perhaps one of their scientists led the way on how to go about the precise usage of the (mesquite and oak) charcoal filtration. Unlike Jack Daniel’s, this bourbon wasfiltered after it had been aged, not before. Even still, this is not the first Brown Forman product to utilize charcoal filtration after the bourbon has been matured. That title belongs to the oft-forgotten 82.2 proof version of Cooper’s Craft Straight Bourbon. That release sees the bourbon filtered through a mix of beech and birch wood after maturation.

With the knowledge that King Ranch was filtered through mesquite and oak charcoal, it opens up the question of if it was also chill filtered. I ask this because Old Forester’s standard line of 86 and 100 proof (Signature) bourbons are known to be chill filtered, but their Whiskey Row series of bourbon is not. This could mean big differences in flavor and mouthfeel. Whenever I hear of a bourbon being filtered through a layer of charcoal, I suspect it was chill filtered at the same time. Diageo uses this technique for George Dickel Rye Whiskey (the 90 proof kind) whereby it is distilled and matured at MGP in Indiana, but then sent to Plainfield Illinois to be filtered through a layer of sugar maple charcoal and chill filtered (and maybe has some color added to it) before being bottled. If you want to taste the difference that those processes make, try the Dickel Rye Whiskey against any other ~5 year old non-chill filtered, ~90 proof MGP rye whiskey (there are plenty to choose from) and notice the lack of fruit flavors in the Dickel version.

(Video) Old Forester King Ranch Review

Old Forester King Ranch Bourbon Review - Bourbon Culture (2)

The reason why I’m exploring every angle of King Ranch before my first taste of it (thanks to the assistance of a very thoughtful friend) is that I’m trying to get into the mindset of a secondary market buyer who is debating if they should buy it or not. While King Ranch seems to be plentiful enough in Texas (the only state it was released), I didn’t like that I was seeing it marked up 3 or 4 times the cost of what the bottle was worth. That seems really steep for a $70 MSRP product whose only unique trait is that the whiskey was filtered through mesquite and oak charcoal and was not put into a Wild Turkey Longbranch bottle. In the past, I have tried some whiskies where mesquite is used to smoke the grains (or barrel) first, but those have came off as too acrid. Ask any barbeque pitboss out there and they will tell you that Mesquite isn’t ideal for smoking with because too much wood or time can result in creosote flavors overpowering everything else.

So does Old Forester bourbon have enough backbone to stand up to this experiment? There’s only one way to find out. Let’s see how well the creative minds at Old Forester went about their task. I tasted this neat in a glencairn.

(Video) Old Forester King Ranch Edition - Short & Sweet Review

Tasting Notes

Nose: Carmello Candies and Ferrero Rocher Chocolate scents combine with slightly smokey wood notes. There is a small amount of creosote-soaked railroad ties but the acrid scent of that is offset by vanilla and butter toffee. There’s not a lot a fruit here, but I swear I’m picking up on the faintest peach and raisin note. Strangely, there is also a slight grainy note too.

Palate: Initially, a nice toffee note greets my tastebuds. There are even lighter fruit flavors like orchard and stone fruits, but they’re hard to find. Outside of old leather and the spice equivalent to catching an uncrushed peppercorn in between your teeth that the peppermill failed to grind, there is something really weird going on here. I don’t know quite how to describe it, but the oak and wood varnish notes I typically find with my Old Forester products seems to have vanished. Instead, it’s replaced by the wood note typically present in some non-peated Scotch that has been aged in an ex-bourbon barrel. The wood note isn’t robust or mellow as much as it is sharp and bitey. I’m almost sure this is the fault of the mesquite charcoal’s interaction, but it’s strange and seems to reduce the sweet notes of the overall dram by 50%.

Finish: The wood notes never really mellow out on the finish. The word I’d use at the end would be more like “crisp” than “bitey” like I spoke about in the notes for the palate. For the first couple sips, the finish was on the sweeter spectrum with an almost “S’more’s” like profile but it quickly devolved into burnt wood from last night’s campfire. The leather notes from the palate also turned out to be older and drier too. Where did my sweetness go?

(Video) Old Forester King Ranch, Special Release. With a @BourBen comparison.

Score: 5.7/10

The opening scents were enough to get me excited for the sip that would follow. But that experience turned out to flop in the most peculiar way. It just didn’t taste like an Old Forester product. That may be fine for some who tire of the same bourbon profiles over and over (I know because I’m one of them). Frankly, it’s a forgettable experience. The addition of the mesquite and oak charcoal filtering process seemed to subtract more from the whiskey than it did to add to it. On top of that, it tasted about 10 proof points less than what the label tells us. That may be a good or bad thing to different drinkers but I felt kind of robbed of the experience.

Old Forester King Ranch Bourbon Review - Bourbon Culture (3)

I know that everyone will have a different experience than the one I’ve described, but I think that the one characteristic that should stand out among most drinkers of this product is how much richness was lost. If you’re a fan of Old Forester 1910 or 1920 because of the rich oaky notes, maple syrup sweetness or chocolatey overtones, you’ll find virtually none of that here.

(Video) We were so wrong... Old Forester 86 Bourbon Review

Final Thoughts

Old Forester Statesman is a product that seemed gimmicky at the time of its released, yet remains a staple in the Old Forester portfolio to this day. It’s probably due to the fact it follows a simple formula of picking barrels from the hottest corners of each warehouse and proofing it down enough to still allow for the oak and spice to show through. But I don’t find that this bottle of King Ranch is worthy of living on in the portfolio if that option were to ever be on the table. It’s a good concept, but one that I think should’ve been polished more (perhaps mesquite filtering it before it went into the barrel?) before the final execution.

The fact I am writing all of this in a review is a shame, because I feel as if any new Old Forester product is worthy of celebrating. It also makes me cautiously weary of the direction Old Forester will go now that Jackie Zykan has left. What were her feelings on an experiment like this? Would she have argued in favor of a wider release? Or would she have argued that this should never have been bottled in the first place? I’d like to believe it was the latter which is why it was only released after she left. But now that she’s gone, does it mean that Old Forester will embrace more whacky experiments to include collaborations with brands that are not outwardly linked to whiskey? It seems as if King Ranch brings up lots more questions than answers in the end. But one thing is for sure, this is a bottle doesn’t need to be chased in the hopes that it will be the next bourbon of the year. We’ll just have to stick with what we have for now.

Old Forester King Ranch Bourbon Review - Bourbon Culture (4)

(Video) Is Old Forester Bourbon WORTH The MONEY?


What does Old Forester taste like? ›

Old Forester Bourbon 86 Proof has dark caramel, musty oak, candied ginger, earthy caraway seed, slightly funky vanilla in a way that feels just a bit young, dried red apple and cherry, roasted oak, cinnamon, licorice, toasted banana, and peach with a hint of burn.

How old is Forester bourbon? ›

1870. Old Forester is created by George Garvin Brown and named after Dr. William Forrester. To guarantee consistency George batches bourbon from three nearby distilleries: Mattingly, Mellwood, and Atherton.

How many bottles of birthday bourbon? ›

While demand increases every year, the distillery is limited in what they can bottle, and this year's batch is 14,400 bottles in total — about a thousand more than last year's. To put it in perspective, that's about twice what Pappy Van Winkle will release each year, and still a miniscule supply.

Who makes Old Forester bourbon? ›

Old Forester is a brand of Kentucky straight bourbon whisky produced by the Brown–Forman Corporation. It has been on the market continuously for longer than any other bourbon (approximately 150 years as of 2020), and was the first bourbon sold exclusively in sealed bottles.

What bourbon is closest to Old Forester? ›

Old Forester 1920

It's tough to pick between the two top contenders which would be the 115 proof 1920 Prohibition Style and the 93 proof 1910 Old Fine Whisky. But since Woodford Reserve's Double Oaked is on the list and it's basically the same as Old Forester 1910, then I would go with the 1920 Prohibition Style.

What is the oldest bourbon in Kentucky? ›

Burks' Distillery

The distillery goes way back to 1773 and is recognized in the Guinness Book of World Records as the oldest bourbon distillery in the world.

What is the longest running bourbon? ›

200 Years of Bourbon Making History

On the spot where the buffalo migration route crossed the Kentucky River, we've been making legendary bourbon whiskey for over 200 years. Buffalo Trace is the oldest continuously operating distillery in America.

Can you drink 100 year old bourbon? ›

The shelf life of bourbon isn't much different from the shelf life of whiskey, as a whole. Unopened, a bottle of bourbon won't go bad. You can store it for decades.

What is MSRP for Old Forester Birthday Bourbon? ›

On this Whiskey Quickie by Bourbon Pursuit, we review the 2022 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon. This 11 year old bourbon is 96 proof and $150 MSRP.

How much bourbon should you drink a day? ›

How Much Bourbon A Day Is Ok? Men should limit their drinking to no more than two drinks per day, and women should limit their consumption to no more than one drink per day.

What bourbon does Matthew McConaughey? ›

Longbranch launched in 2018, two years after McConaughey was named creative director at the Wild Turkey Distillery. As a nod to his Texas roots, this eight-year-old bourbon is filtered through mesquite charcoal to give it a bit of a smoky finish while still retaining those familiar Wild Turkey flavor characteristics.

Who makes Costco signature bourbon? ›

Kirkland Signature Bourbon comes from Barton 1792 Distillery, located in the heart of Kentucky, owned by Sazerac. The distillery was named in 1792 in honor of the year Kentucky joined the United States. The bourbon is named Kirkland after the town of Kirkland, Washington.

What are the rarest Bourbons? ›

Rare Bourbons
  • Old Rip Van Winkle 25-Year-Old Bourbon.
  • Angel's Envy Kentucky Straight Bourbon Finished in Madeira Casks.
  • A.H. Hirsch Reserve 1974 16-Year-Old Straight Bourbon Whiskey.
  • Milam & Greene: The Castle Hill Series 13-Year-Old Bourbon.
  • Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve Straight Bourbon.
  • Old Forester Birthday Bourbon.
Nov 14, 2022

What bourbon is close to Pappy Van Winkle? ›

Pappy Van Winkle is a wheated bourbon, meaning wheat is a secondary grain used in the mash bill (corn is the primary grain in all bourbons.) Maker's Mark is a popular wheated whiskey, and according to Minnick, it's one of the only bourbons that comes even remotely close to Pappy.

How does Old Forester rate? ›

Based on 388 votes, the average rating for Old Forester Bourbon is 7.1/10. ― Great tasting bourbon and a reasonable price.

What bourbon is same recipe as Pappy Van Winkle? ›

Weller Special Reserve, a bourbon that uses the same recipe as Pappy Van Winkle.

What is the Holy Grail of bourbon? ›

Pappy is the holy grail of bourbons and very difficult to find.

What is the most popular bourbon in America? ›

For the 2nd quarter of 2021 the top 5 bourbons were: Bulleit, Maker's, Woodford, Jim Beam and Basil Hayden. Evan Williams was 7th. For Drizly's whiskey sales overall, bevalcinsights.com reports (also using Drizly's data) that for 2020, Bulleit Bourbon topped the list.

Did slaves make bourbon? ›

There isn't much documentation to support that slaves were the ones distilling the spirit, but one can assume that they completed or helped in the process of making bourbon. Recently, Jack Daniel's acknowledged a slave named Nathan “Nearest” Green as the first African American master distiller.

Why is Kentucky bourbon so good? ›

Kentucky offers rich, fertile soil and the perfect growing seasons for one of bourbon's main ingredients: corn. All bourbon must come from a grain mixture with at least 51% corn, and the best bourbon usually has a grain mixture with as much as 60% or 70% corn. The more corn a mash contains, the sweeter its flavor.

What is the oldest bourbon bar in the US? ›

The Old Talbott Tavern was originally built in 1779 and claims the title of the “world's oldest bourbon bar."

Which bourbon has the least sugar? ›

True bourbon—that is, bourbon with no flavorings or sweetener—contains virtually no sugar. The USDA nutrition facts for whiskey register 0 grams of sugar in a 1.5 oz serving.

Does bourbon have sugar or carbs? ›

Go for straight-up spirits — Spirits like bourbon, gin, rum, scotch, tequila, vodka and whiskey all have zero carbs, but they DO have calories which all come from alcohol.

Does bourbon have more sugar than rum? ›

While bourbon does contain sugar, it is not as sweet as other types of alcohol such as vodka or rum. The sugar content of distilled spirits such as bourbon, rye, and other whiskeys is lower than that of other alcoholic beverages.

What bourbon did cowboys drink? ›

So what were they drinking back then? Some popular whiskey nicknames from the era offer a glimpse: mountain howitzer, coffin varnish, chain-lightning, strychnine, and tangleleg—none of which sound very appetizing. Cowboys never had a reputation for being very sophisticated connoisseurs.

Can bourbon age too long? ›

While some aging is desirable to achieve the best flavor profile, too much aging can actually cause the Bourbon to lose flavor. A great distiller can find the sweet spot in the aging process where the youngest whiskey no longer has its sharp, unfinished taste but hasn't succumbed to flavor loss from over-aging.

What is the best family owned bourbon? ›

Best Overall

Produced by the family-owned Willett distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky, Noah's Mill has won multiple gold medals at the San Fransisco World Spirits Competition.

Is a bottle of whiskey a week too much? ›

Is a bottle of whiskey a week too much? It all just depends on what size bottle of whiskey it is. A shot or a pint a week wouldn't be so bad, but a fifth or a half gallon per week would more than likely lead to liver disease if it's continued for a long period of time.

Does unopened whiskey expire? ›

Some alcohol, like wine, gets better in the bottle over time, but this isn't true for all types of booze, including whiskey. Unopened whiskey can last indefinitely, but a bottle that has been opened will eventually expire due to oxidation.

Can bacteria grow in whiskey? ›

They tested the bacteria against whiskey, vodka, different types of mixers and various environmental conditions. Bacteria continued to thrive in all of the samples except one: you guessed it, the whiskey. Whiskey was the only drink that completely eliminated all traces of the bacteria.

Are old bottles of bourbon worth anything? ›

Their value depends on condition, who distilled and bottled the whiskey inside, the brand name itself, and other factors. Most medicinal whiskey pints sell within the hundreds depending on condition, over $1000 for rarer bottles, and even more for very sought after editions.

Does bourbon get more valuable with age? ›

Because older bourbon bottles are more expensive than newer bottles, it is true that the price of bourbon rises with age. Because of the scarcity of older bourbons, they have a higher value.

Does bourbon have to be aged 2 years? ›

It can go for any amount of time. But, there are two exceptions to this – straight bourbon whiskey has to be aged for a minimum of two years, and bottled-in-bond must be aged for at least four years.

Is it OK to drink bourbon every night? ›

As with any other type of alcohol, whiskey is believed by many to have mild to moderately beneficial effects when consumed in moderation. This means drinking no more than 3oz of whiskey per day for men (2 shots of whiskey) and 1.5oz per day for women (1 shot of whiskey), with no additional alcoholic drinks.

Is it better to drink bourbon straight? ›

Straight or neat is the best way to enjoy bourbon and let all the subtle intricacies of the aromas and flavors truly come together. While often used interchangeably, there's a subtle difference between neat and straight. Neat means that you don't add any water or ice.

Is bourbon good to drink before bed? ›

The barbiturate effect of the alcohol can reduce stress, and also has sedative properties to help you sleep if you're experiencing anxiety. This is why whiskey is a classic choice of nightcap for badasses the world over.

What is Peyton Manning's bourbon? ›

The new Sweetens Cove 22 is a blended straight Tennessee bourbon that is said to be inspired by the lineage of Tennessee bourbon and scotch casks. It's made up of four whiskeys aged for five, six, eight and 10 years.

What is Jamie Foxx's bourbon? ›

Congratulations to Jamie Foxx on his ownership of BSB - Brown Sugar Bourbon! We at Heritage Distilling Co. are genuinely excited about the next phase in BSB's growth as a national brand in the flavored whiskey category.

What bourbon does Jessica Jones drink? ›

'I'll have a Bourbon, cheapest one you got,' she drawls to the cashier in episode three, titled A.K.A. It's Called Whiskey. Her lack of brand loyalty is underpinned by the sheer variety of bottles such as Cutty Sark, Teacher's, Four Roses and Jim Beam that litter her dingy office.

Where is Trader Joe's bourbon made? ›

Produced for us in Bardstown, Kentucky (in Nelson County), our Bourbon is sweet, fruity and spicy with hints of brown sugar and oak—it is aged for a minimum of two years in new (charred) white oak barrels. Its finish is long, appreciably spicy and dry, with accents of vanilla that linger on your tongue.

What is Costco's new bourbon? ›

Kirkland Small Batch Bourbon​ overview. In 2021, Costco, the mega bulk membership buy-everything warehouse store, released their Kirkland Signature line of Kentucky Bourbons sourced from Barton 1792.

What is Kirkland Bourbon similar to? ›

Stylistically, the Kirkland Signature Tennessee Whiskey falls between Jack Daniels and George Dickel. It's drier than Jack Daniels, but it's sweeter and has more body and palate weight than George Dickel. It has the classic aroma and taste profile of a Tennessee whiskey.

What bourbon will increase in value? ›

Generally speaking, older bourbons tend to be more valuable than younger ones. Limited edition and specially-aged bourbons are usually worth more than mass-produced brands. Straight bourbons should be aged for a minimum of two years [2], but distilleries prefer to release bottles after six to twelve years.

How much bourbon is left in the barrel after 23 years? ›

The most sought-after bourbon in the world, Pappy Van Winkle 23-year-old, begins life as 53 gallons of new-make whiskey at 114 proof. What's left in the barrel after 23 years is a mere 14 gallons of bourbon at around 135-140 proof. What makes it into the bottle is even less.

What does Old Forester 100 proof taste like? ›

Palate: The chocolate and caramel notes continue from the nose while a nice cherry rollup flavor comes through. The heat is more noticeable on the tongue than it was on the nose but maybe that's because the baking spices feel hotter. The oak spice becomes a bit drier while tobacco leaf is also found.

What does oxidized whiskey taste like? ›

Scotches flatten out and then start showing more acidic notes like lemon and lime. In some cases whisky starts losing its composure, and in other cases it simply flattens out losing its complexity. It's not a surprise that oxygen reacts with the whisky. Oxidation plays a key role in whisky maturation.

Does whiskey have a woody taste? ›

Wooden casks have a major role in defining the flavor profile of whiskey. "Water of life" spends so much time maturing in oak casks, which by law, are required for maturing. Throughout history any type of wood has been used to make whiskey casks but nowadays they have to be made out of oak.

What does Pappy Van Winkle taste like? ›

Many attribute Pappy Van Winkle's Family Reserve's taste to its heavy use of wheat over rye or corn. It gives it less of a bite, and is softer than most other bourbons, which compliments its velvety mouthfeel and notes of vanilla, cherry, and light smokiness very well.

What bourbon is 150 proof? ›

Old Forester 150th Anniversary Batch Proof Bourbon.


1. Is Old Forester Bourbon WORTH The MONEY?
(SLB Drinks)
2. The Cure for Bourbon FOMO? Old Forester King Ranch
(Whiskey Uncensored)
3. 2022 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Review
(SLB Drinks)
4. 2022 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Review
(Bourbon Kingdom)
5. Whiskey Review - Old Forester 1920 Bourbon Whiskey - Ep: 276
(Whiskey Vault)
6. Ep 158: Booker's Bourbon Review and Tasting with Knob Creek Single Barrel 120 Proof Comparison
(Whiskey Vault)
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