Something Old… Something New
by Sean Carroll, Director of Beverage
As the holiday season is upon us, so is a new barrel of bourbon the Club purchased this summer. It was day two in Louisville and our palates were in prime condition from the previous day’s barrel selections. For most that would not be the case, but for your ORC Food & Beverage team we are pros, or so we think. Erwin Pals (VP of Food & Beverage), Chris Patterson (Executive Director of Food & Beverage) and I headed right down the street from our hotel to Whiskey Row and the Old Forester Distillery, one of only three distilleries in Downtown Louisville. Most distilleries are about an hour trip outside of Louisville, so we did not have time to “nurse” the previous day’s festivities. We had to get right to business.
This distillery is state of the art, however due to a fire that broke out in 2015, its opening was delayed until 2018. The distillery is a culmination of a nearly 150-year legacy that began in 1870 when George Garvin Brown, a young pharmaceutical sales rep, changed the spirits industry forever when he sealed whisky in a glass bottle. He signed his name as a guarantee of consistency and quality, declaring, “There is nothing better in the market.” It was an innovative approach at a time when whisky was commonly sold by the barrel. He set up shop on Louisville’s Main Street – dubbed Whiskey Row – the hub of the Bourbon business in Kentucky.
Upon arriving at the distillery, we were given a tour that began with a primer on Bourbon history and the role played by both Old Forester and its hometown of Louisville, Kentucky. Four 4,500 gallon tanks guided us to a glass elevator, where we ascended through a light-filled atrium in full view of the 44-foottall copper column still. We then made our way to the cooperage where Old Forester crafts its own new barrels. We watched as coopers hand raise each barrel and we could feel the heat as we witnessed the charring of a barrel. In full view, the barrels were tested and filled before making their way to the aging warehouse. We were then guided down a woodlined hallway before arriving at a three-story warehouse offering a bird’s eye view of the warehouse where roughly 900 barrels will age. It was amazing to see, as there is tremendous pride that goes into making this bourbon.
It was finally time to taste the bourbon and after the hour tour, we were ready. There was no blending of bourbons in this tasting, just three single barrels to choose from. Old Forester’s “Master Taster” guided us through each sample as we enjoyed some homemade chocolate, which by the way pairs perfectly with bourbon. Upon some discussion and numerous samplings (even in Old Fashioneds), we had come to a decision. The selection was barreled June 21st of 2017 in warehouse J on the third floor, resting for a little over four years, and is 100 proof. We truly think this is one of the best barrels we have selected over the years. It will be available today is now available in your favorite Ocean Reef outlet as well as Port O’ Call. More to come as we anxiously await the arrival of the next barrel. Many, many times a day discriminating doctors say:
“Old Forester will life prolong and render old age hale and strong.”
Featured above: ORC’s expert tasters Erwin Pals, VP of Food & Beverage, Sean Carroll, Director of Beverage, and Chris Patterson, Executive Director of Food & Beverage.