Old Forester 1870 Review (A Huge Story)

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Check out this Old Forester 1870 review to learn more about the historic Whiskey Row offerings, the distillery, and the lengthy history of this bourbon family. The story’s beginning traces back to before George Garvin Brown even purchased his first distillery in 1897. To this day, the brand continues to grow and develop. The most recent addition is a $45 million distillery opened in 2018 on the Bourbon Train in Louisville, Kentucky.

Old Forester is out to woo new bourbon drinkers by opening the new distillery to the public. They offer a variety of tours for everyone from new bourbon drinkers to experienced tasters. The tours vary in content, but all highlight Old Forester’s history. The Whiskey Row bourbons are part of their ongoing focus on heritage. Each of the four products recreates a significant moment in Old Forester history.

A Bit Of The History

George Garvin Brown started in the whiskey business in 1870 by bottling instead of distilling. He sourced his product from three separate distilleries, blending the bourbon himself and bottling it with the Old Forester label. The Old Forester 1870 label carries the stamp “Original Batch” which refers to the very first recipe used for the 150-year-old bourbon.

To recreate Brown sourcing from three different distilleries, Old Forester uses three different bourbons from their own distillery, blended together, with minimal filtering. In theory, the process is identical to Brown’s method in 1870.

To ensure that the blend’s composition is three unique spirits, they use barrels from different warehouses, aged for different amounts of time, and from different days of production on the still. While it likely doesn’t taste much like the original Old Forester, it is a high-quality blended bourbon that commemorates the birth of the brand.

Our Old Forester 1870 Review

Distillers blend mid-shelf bourbons for consistency. Aging has diverse results in every barrel. To ensure your glass of bourbon from this year tastes the same as last year’s, they blend many barrels to create as homogenous a flavor as possible.

That’s not to say that every batch of bourbon is the same every time. Styles and tastes change, and distillers change their process to adapt. Grain crops may also taste different from year to year. But overall, the greatest consistency comes from blending barrels together. George Garvin Brown was the first bourbon producer to use the blending method to create a more consistent product for his customers.

Nowadays, single barrel offerings are more expensive as bourbon drinkers find the fluctuation in flavor and proof noteworthy and more desirable.

This raises a key question that every Old Forester 1870 Review should address.

Why does Old Forester 1870 sell for double what their flagship Old Forester 86 proof product does?

At 90 proof, the 1870 packs more of a punch. And, the “Original Batch” release uses just three barrels, chosen with care by the master distiller’s protege, Marianne Barnes. You’re tasting a very specific blend that the Old Forester distillery feels comes close to the bourbon bottled 150 years ago.

Flavor-wise, there’s considerable clove and baking spice on the nose and in the mouth, with a foundation of floral sweetness. Overall, it’s an exemplary American bourbon: sweet, with floral, citrus and spice. This is a bourbon blended with expertise and with a great story.

Some Love from the Instagram Universe

The Whiskey Row releases of Old Forester are cool because they’re affordable mid-shelf bourbons that let average consumers taste big variety from a single distillery. By changing the aging process, the proof, and the blending process, they create bourbons suited for unique tastes and purposes.

Right now, Old Forester offers over ten different bourbons and ryes, bottled anywhere from 86 to 115 proof in blends and single barrel offerings. Not only is it a lot of fun to find your favorite, but side-by-side tastings from the same distillery develop your palate.

These Instagram influencers enjoy this bourbon for its approachable palate, soft finish, and floral sweetness. And we are happy to feature each person’s Old Forester 1870 review.

@whiskey_grappler Prefers an Easy Sipper

Old Forester 1870
A half-empty bottle of Old Forester 1870 with a Glencairn whiskey glass in front of a wooden spirits crate. | Image credit: @whiskey_grappler on Instagram

“This is still my favorite of the Old Forester series (not including Birthday Bourbon since I’ve never had that). It’s just so sweet and smooth, which makes it an easy sipper that I always enjoy!”

@ericavaleherself Noticed the Bourbon’s Honey Sweetness

Old Forester 1870 Review
Old Forester 1870 bottle and partially filled glass lit by blue artificial Halloween candles. | Image credit: @ericavaleherself on Instagram.

“Old Forester 1870 Original Batch Whisky. On the nose: spicy orange with a trace of honey. Palate: slightly oily, vibrant Christmas spices; clove, nutmeg, cinnamon. Blooms into a fiery citrus sweetness. Finish is smooth with a sweet burn that tickles my throat,“

@dapper_drams Picked a Good Favorite

A starkly lit full bottle
A starkly lit full bottle of Old Forester 1870 in front of a brick wall. | Image credit: @dapper_drams on Instagram.

“All of the bourbons on Old Forester’s #WhiskeyRow series are fantastic, but I have a soft spot for this bad boy. Sipping on some Original Batch while I prepare for work tomorrow.”

Old Forester Inspired Poetic Thoughts in @ohiobourbonguide

Outdoors in a pile of leaves, leaning on wet bricks.
A bottle of Old Forester 1870 outdoors in a pile of leaves, leaning on wet bricks. | Image credit: @ohiobourbonguide on Instagram

“Thoughts: I love the Old Forester name, branding, and bottle. It invokes thoughts of times that were simpler and slower…”

@no_bad_whiskey Says Easy Drinking Isn’t Bad Drinking

A well-lit, white kitchen
A well-lit, white kitchen with a bottle of Old Forester 1870 on a stone countertop in the foreground. | Image credit: @no_bad_whiskey on Instagram.

“This is pretty much what I taste in my mind when I think about whiskey. –You’ve probably noticed that I am predisposed to high proof flavor bombs, but on some days you want something easy-drinking…I don’t think it’s going to be anyone’s number one favorite, but I think everyone probably truly enjoys and appreciates it.”

Final Notes on Old Forester 1870

So, is it worth buying an entire bottle? Especially when it comes at double the cost of the standard 86 proof Old Forester? It’s worth noting that the 86 proof is also a blended bourbon, at a slightly lower proof. For a few dollars more, you could get a single barrel option. 

If you’re looking to build your bourbon vocabulary and cost isn’t an issue, get 1870. It’s a better bourbon. Besides, a single barrel isn’t always better. Single barrel is just a different expression of bourbon. Decant two products from Old Forester alongside their standard 86 proof. Take the time to learn what you prefer and decide if you’re a single barrel person or a blended bourbon drinker. Or maybe you’re both.

What are some blended bourbons that you love? Do you think they’re worth the same price tag as a single barrel offering?


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