My early days of bourbon drinking consisted of Elijah Craig, Four Roses single barrel, Eagle rare and if I could take it I would go for Bookers or Bakers. This was the first bottle of Old Forester I ever purchased and in hindsight I can’t say why. Maybe it was the bottled in bond statement. Maybe it was an interest in what American whiskey of the olden days tasted like. Maybe it was on sale. Maybe I lied and I bought this alongside their standard 86 proof expression. The 86 proof was gentle on my young palate whereas the 100 proof BiB brought the heat... but in a good way. With the heat came flavor, or rather flavors. They were big. And I liked them. And then I tried more bourbons neat. I learned to appreciate the singe of Bookers. I spent too much money. I drank lots more bourbon. I said I would stop buying bottles... In short, this was an excellent gateway bourbon and I don’t know that it gets enough credit. I say that, and certainly could have been blown away by a comparably priced bottle of Rare Breed, Russel’s Reserve or numerous others. But I didn’t stumble over one of those. This has a nose that punches out of the glass with vanilla sweetness. There is dark chocolate, wood burning fireplace, apricot, over-ripe banana, cherry, green apple, nutmeg... it just keeps going. There is a nice medium body and then a building head and flood of sweet vanilla, tobacco, leather, fruit and barrel char. The finish is decently long as well with a warming Kentucky hug within the chest. Somewhere along the way in by bourbon adventure I was lured by the harlot that is Buffalo trace and sought (without luck) my own bottles of Rock Hill Farms, Elmer T Lee and single barrels of Buffalo Trace and EH Taylor. What I loved about some of those I believe this bottle has in spades. The sweetness, body, fruit, barrel char and well balanced spice. Look, when this bottle is gone I won’t have to pay $300 to some shady Facebook bottle slinger or waste countless hours hunting. If this is too bold or brash for BT fans then so be it. I’ll take this over many of BT over-hyped, marked up expressions any day. Not only will you find it anywhere - you may even find it on sale.