Melissa Rift explains why Old Forester Bottled in Bond 117 Series is special

Old Forester Distilling Co. , photo provided by Old Forester
Old Forester Distilling Co. , photo provided by Old Forester /

While the celebrated liquor brand has been built on its founder’s, George Garvin Brown, belief that there is nothing better in the market, Old Forester Master Taster Melissa Rift appreciates that each new offering blends that heritage with innovation. With the recent Bottled in Bond 117 Series, the special expression encourages drinkers to sip, ponder, and explore the nuances.

Many people have a preferred bottle to pour to mark an occasion. From a special birthday to a monthly tradition, reaching for that glass feels like reconnecting with an old friend. No matter where, how, or why, from first sip to last drop, that drinking experience is always pleasurable.

Although that old favorite will never be replaced, special releases can further solidify a drinker’s connection to their preferred distiller. Whiskey collectors might search far and wide to add a particular offering to their shelf. But, for some, it is more than filling space or bragging rights. Those special expressions offer insight into the Master Distiller’s thinking, process, and craft.

With the new Old Forester Bottled in Bond 117 Series, Melissa Rift continues to push the conversation forward. After having a hand in previous special releases, drinkers are starting to appreciate her influence over the traditional Kentucky beverage brand.

During a recent conversation with Rift about the Bottled in Bond 117 Series, she shared the concept behind the 117 Series, what to expect from this particular offering, and some advice for drinkers learning to appreciate the finely aged spirit.

Speaking to the 117 Series, Rift likens these special offerings as “a modern take, modern expressions in the bourbon industry.” She believes that it is important for “such a historic brand, like Old Forester, to lean into the innovations.” Even though those ideas might seem like forward thinking, she believes that “sometimes they are rooted in kind of throwback historic expressions, like Bottled in Bond.”

As she leaned into these “niche expressions” there is a way to embrace the experimental. For this particular offering, Rift said that “the bit of extra age on it comes through in those dried fruit notes that we typically get from the 1897 Bottle in Bond. We say it’s almost like stewed fruit tart, stewed blackberries, and sweet dates. The caramelization factor adds some creaminess to it as well. It’s almost like a blackberry tart with fresh homemade whipped cream. It has some really nice complexity, but you definitely see that richness and depth of flavor.”

Although Rift suggests that everyone should drink a bourbon as they prefer, she did recommend that this offering is lovely when enjoyed neat. Rift believes that “it has such dynamic and rich flavor” that it does not need a splash of water nor an ice cube.

While some people might wait to open this bottle for a special occasion, Rift commented that “I think that the beautiful thing about Old Forester consumers is that they take our products, and they find where it fits into their lifestyle for them. I think this offering is a perfect example because it does have so much approachability and versatility.”

As drinkers discover this special expression, Rift believes that Old Forester will continue to push innovations with its unique offerings. She mentioned that the brand is always listening to conversations, exploring the experimental, and crafting offerings that could even be a bit playful. From barrel finishes to single warehouse expressions, there are numerous ways to hone into what the consumer craves while still staying true to the brand.

From tried and true fans to first time sippers, Old Forester welcomes them all to the table. Rift shared, “One of my favorite things about Old Forester is that we have this almost cult like following, especially here in the city of Louisville, but it is really growing across the country with people who have been long time fans. We are always listening to them because they are our core base of consumers and they’re fanatics about our brand.”

Based on that sentiment, it is time to open a bottle of the Old Forester Bottled In Bond 117 Series, sit with it a spell, and share those thoughts, reactions, and descriptions with friends, the brand, and anyone who loves a great liquor. People, including Melissa Rift and Old Forester, are listening. Those sentiments might weave their way into another bottle in the future.

Old Forester Bottled in Bond 117 Series is 100 proof. The special offer has a suggested retail price of $59.99 and can be purchased at the Old Forester Distilling Co retail shop and online. Limited quantities are available.

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