Looking for Robb Report UK? Click here to visit our UK site.

Old Forester’s New Bourbon Gets a Mesquite Twist

Bring this whiskey to your next barbecue.

Old Forester King Ranch Edition Old Forester

Bourbon filtered through mesquite charcoal… stop me if you think that you’ve heard this one before, because you have. Still, that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give the new King Ranch Edition from Old Forester a try, because this bourbon built for Texas brings a new spin to this venerable Kentucky distillery.

Wild Turkey’s Longbranch Bourbon, the boozy fruit of Matthew McConaughey’s partnership with the distillery as creative director, first came out back in 2018. This 86-proof whiskey is filtered through both oak and mesquite charcoal, giving it a lightly smoky flavor on the palate and really separating it from Wild Turkey’s other expressions. Old Forester King Ranch Edition is matured in heavily charred oak barrels and then also finished by filtering through mesquite charcoal, specifically wood from King Ranch in Texas (hence, the name), and ultimately bottled at a higher 105 proof.

The through-line for this collaboration is the Kentucky Derby. Old Forester is a key ingredient in the Mint Juleps sold at Churchill Downs every year, according to the brand (there’s also a bottled Old Forester Mint Julep you can buy when it’s not Derby season). And King Ranch, located outside of Corpus Christi, is the owner of three Kentucky Derby winners including the 1946 Triple Crown winner Assault, for those interested in equine history. “This new product represents George Garvin Brown’s lasting legacy and Old Forester’s commitment to quality bourbon,” said Cole Irvin, a Brown-Forman whisky innovator who was part of the team that created this new bourbon, referring to the Old Forester founder. “It’s a big, bold flavor–to match the big, bold ranch in South Texas.”

There are aromas of cherry, pecan and marshmallow on the nose, followed by dark chocolate, tobacco, leather and caramelized oak on the palate, according to the brand. This is a Texas-only release for now with an SRP of $69.99. Of course, the character of this whiskey will likely be as different from Longbranch as a bottle of Wild Turkey 101 is from Old Forester Bourbon—these are two different distilleries making two very different whiskeys, after all. Still, this new release does seem like a direct reference, or competition, or even unlikely tribute to McConaughey’s whiskey of choice. Grab a bottle of each and try them side-by-side to see what you think for yourself.

More Spirits