Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style

Old Forester

So, the Kingsman sequel is out, and as was possibly predictable, reports are that it’s not quite up to the standard of the original. I’ve yet to see it; judgement is being reserved.

In the leadup to its release, Brown-Forman announced the launch of two new whiskies. From their Scotland stable came a 25 year old Glendronach, which sold out in nothing flat. And from the US came the “Statesman” expression from Old Forester.

Statesman is now available in the UK via Amazon, and is already basking in the same lukewarm glow of “meh” reviews as the film itself. Again, I’m reserving judgement until I’ve tasted it. Today’s scrawl is concerned with a different Old Forester: the 1920 Prohibition Style.

The third expression in Old Forester’s “Whiskey Row” series, this bourbon celebrates Old Forester’s rather rare status of having continued distillation throughout America’s prohibition era. Because, obviously, it has so many medicinal properties. I gather paracetamol also requires a minimum 51% corn mashbill.

The marketing spiel is that it is based on the flavour profile of a prohibition-era Old Forester. Quite how they’d achieve this I’m not entirely sure, but the whiskey is bottled at 115 proof (57.5% in proper English) and only available if you visit the USA, where it will set you back around $59.

Fellow members of the British Bourbon Society, for whom I also do some scribbling, had said rather positive things. So I thought I ought to take a look.

Old Forester 1920 Prohibition Style Review

Old Forester 1920

Colour: Mahogany

On the nose: One of those absolutely classic bourbon noses, with the accent on nutmeggy spice. Seared orange and tonnes of burnt caramel; these casks have been charred and then some. Lots of oaky depth without being too woody. The alcohol buzzes about rather, but allows room for the aromas to express themselves.

In the mouth: My word, that’s beautiful. The nose was decent, but the palate is where this whiskey really hits its stride. The booze is remarkably well judged; literally just adding structure and voluptuousness; no prickly interference with flavour whatsoever. Char and sweet spices are the first to arrive, before caramel and rich banana bread. The finish dries into oak and more nutmeg spice.


One of the best bourbons I’ve tasted this year. Feels so perfectly judged age-wise; there’s still a load of juiciness on top of the spicier oak character, and for length and complexity you can’t ask much more of $59. At that price it is an absolute steal; it works out at £43 on the morning of writing this, and for that money there’s nothing better in the UK that I’ve tasted. If you visit America and don’t come back with one of these you’ve missed a major trick.

Even without having tried it I am 99% certain that the Statesman won’t be in the same league as the 1920 Prohibition Style. I certainly know which one I’d prefer to see on UK shelves. I need a full bottle of this in my life. So do you.

Score: 8/10

(Big thanks to Russell for the sample.)

Adam Wells

In addition to my weekly-ish articles on Malt I write about whisky for Distilled and cider for Graftwood and Full Juice Magazines. Somewhere amidst all that I've also done the WSET Diploma in Wine and Spirits. I share my home with several hundred bottles, one geophysicist and a small fluffy whirlwind called Nutmeg. For miscellaneous drinks banality, find me on twitter at Twitter.com/DrinkScribbler

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