Groundbreaking Grain: Old Forester Rye

Feb. 7, 2019

Old Forester Rye


Old Forester is one of the oldest, most beloved names in bourbon. The distiller has made it through world wars, Prohibition, constantly changing consumer tastes, and come out a stronger, more appealing brand each time.

Now, Old Forester is expanding its storied portfolio with the all new Old Forester Rye Kentucky Straight Rye Whisky, available February 1.

Old Forester RyeOld Forester, New Tricks
It has been nearly 150 years since Old Forester released a new grain recipe.

So why rye, and why now?

It may have something to do with the current boom in rye whiskey. American consumers are turned on to rye in a major way, thanks in no small part to the propulsive popularity of cocktail culture—both in bars and among at-home mixologists. Rye is a versatile spirit, especially suited to incorporation into a wide range of cocktails.

According to a report from the Distilled Spirits Council last year, rye was up 16.2 percent by volume in 2017, reaching 900,000 cases, with the category now worth an estimated $175 million to suppliers in the U.S. For context, according to the Whiskey Wash, Americans bought only 100,000 cases of rye whisky in 2009.

The category is enjoying a renaissance, and Old Forester was ready to take the lead. According to a statement from the company, this new mash bill consists of 65 percent rye, 20 percent malted barley and 15 percent corn. It was crafted by Master Distiller Chris Morris and Master Taster Jackie Zykan, and inspired by the historic recipe for Normandy Rye, a brand purchased by Brown-Forman back in 1940.

A Rye for the Ages
To land a spot in Old Forester’s portfolio, the spirit must be extraordinary.

"Our signature bourbon recipe has done this brand proud through Prohibition, World Wars and changing consumer palates," said Campbell Brown, Old Forester President and great-great grandson of founder George Garvin Brown, in a statement.

The spicy, yet floral complexity of this expression offers a completely different flavor profile than its bourbon cousin.

Zykan is confident that consumers will embrace this new expression.

"Old Forester Rye stays true to our standards of quality, consistency, and balance while delivering on value as only Old Forester can," she said in a statement. "The spicy, yet floral complexity of this expression offers a completely different flavor profile than its bourbon cousin. At 100 proof, it plays beautifully in cocktails but also stands up boldly on its own."

Brown praised the rye recipe, saying "we will create a new tradition with a Kentucky Straight Rye that will capture the hearts and excite the palates of experienced rye drinkers and curious whisky enthusiasts alike."

Old Forester Understands Rye
Morris has created a recipe which gets to the heart of what is great about rye whiskey.

"Throughout history, rye whisky showcased a balanced grain recipe," Morris said. “The high proportion of malted barley in this traditional recipe allows for a wholly natural fermentation process, leveraging Old Forester's proprietary yeast strain. The generous percentage of malted barley yields a unique floral character, producing a remarkably balanced rye."

This innovative rye is poised to become a bartender’s secret weapon for cocktails, combining the exciting versatility of rye with Old Forester’s undeniable history of quality.

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