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Early Times vs Old Forester: Discover the Better!

Discover the differences between Early Times vs Old Forester in this-in-depth comparison and decide which bourbon is better for You!

Early Times

early-times-bourbon
NoseApricot, vanilla, caramel
PalateApricot, caramel, nuts, spice
FinishShort, fruity, oak spice
Alcohol content80 proof (40% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toBuffalo Trace, Jack Daniel’s

The nose is quite light, with a hint of apricot, along vanilla and a touch of caramel.

On the palate, Early Times feels somewhat oily providing a good mouthfeel.

On the first sip you get sweet alcohol at first, with notes of apricot and caramel at first, followed by a light hint of roasted nuts and a modest amount of spice.

The finish is short-lived, with a light fruity note, oak spice and a bit of acetone to it.

Early Times is surprisingly smooth and sweet, with nothing wrong about but nothing interesting as you might expect from a whiskey at this price point.

It shows it’s young age, but is not harsh, or bitter making it serviceable when looking for an affordable whiskey to make cocktails. Just a bit of acetone on the finish but nothing too crazy.

Overall, the Early Times is a good option when looking for a smooth and sweet cheap drinker. Nothing particularly interesting about it but it doesn’t have any horrible notes providing value for the money.

The name Early Times was selected as a tribute to the old-school method of making whiskey, which included mashing grain in small tubs and distilling the whisky in copper stills over open fires.

There a few facts worth knowing about the Early Times:

  • Aged for a minimum of 3 years.
  • Early Times is not labeled as a bourbon but as a Kentucky Whisky as it’s aged using used barrels (bourbon has to be aged in new barrels).

Old Forester 86

old-forester-86
NoseBrown sugar, caramel, ethanol
PalateVanilla, banana, oak, spice
FinishCaramel, oak
Alcohol content86 proof (43% ABV)
How to drinkRocks, cocktails
Similar toBuffalo Trace, Wild Turkey 81

The nose delivers a sharp ethanol hit that quickly fades into a sweet scent of brown sugar and caramel.

On the palate, the Old Forester 86 has a decent body showing a medium texture. Flavor is smooth and a bit musty, with hints of vanilla, banana, cinnamon and a whiff of charred oak spice providing a bitter note.

The finish is short, with caramel and oak to it with very little to no warmth.

It drinks nicely neat or rocks and the little higher than average proof (86) makes it a good option for an affordable cocktail.

Old Forester 86 is an easy drinker with nothing remarkable or off-putting, getting the job done providing good value for the money.

Way better than other budget bourbons like Jim Beam or Jack Daniel’s that have odd tasting notes, but short of whiskeys like the Bulleit or Buffalo Trace that have a more complex profile.

There are a few facts worth knowing about the Old Forester 86:

  • Aged for around 4 years.
  • The mash bill is comprised of 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malted barley.
  • This was the first bottled bourbon sold in sealed glass bottles instead of from barrels, to ensure consistent quality.
  • Old Forester has been on the market continuously since 1870, which is longer than any other bourbon.
  • Old Forester was launched in 1870 by George Garvin Brown and named for Dr. William Forrester, who prescribed bourbon to his patients.
  • Crafted at the Brown-Forman Distillery in Shively, KY.
  • This brand is owned by Brown-Forman which also holds Jack Daniel’s and Woodford Reserve.

What do Early Times and Old Forester have in common?

Until 2020 they were both crafted at the same distillery

Early Times was originally crafted at the Brown Forman Distillery in Shively along the Old Forester but the brand was recently acquired by the Sazerac Company (Buffalo Trace) and is now produced at the 1792 Distillery in Bardstown.

Early Times vs Old Forester: Price comparison

Prices are approximate and stated in USD:

WhiskeyPriceBottle Size
Early Times$141L
Old Forester 86$291L

Early Times vs Old Forester: Which is better?

Old Forester is a more satisfying pour than Early Times

WhiskeyEarly TimesOld Forester
Nose
Body
Palate
Finish
Value
  • Old Forester is a nice sipping bourbon making perhaps one of the best sipper at this price point.
  • Early Times is too basic, not particularly tasty, making a better whiskey when looking exclusively for something to make cocktails on the cheap.

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