Whiskey & Vinyl: Old Forester Single Barrel Barrel Strength and John Coltrane’s ‘Blue Train’

Jim Casey02/24/23
Whiskey and Vinyl Old Forester Single Barrel Barrel Strength John Coltrane Blue Train

photo by Outsider

All aboard the Blue Train. That’s right, in this week’s Whiskey & Vinyl, we’re going for ride with John Coltrane . . . and we’re bringing along a high-proof sip of Old Forester Single Barrel Barrel Strength. High-proof jazz deserves a high-proof sip.

Stick around for the jazzed-up highlights.

Old Forester Single Barrel Barrel Strength

(photo by Outsider)
  • Distillery: Old Forester Distilling Co.
  • Location: Louisville, KY
  • Style: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whisky
  • Proof: 125.9 (varies)
  • Store Pick: Red Spirits & Wine (Nashville, TN)
  • Price: $100

Old Forester Single Barrel Barrel Proof opens with medium alcohol and warm oak. There’s no doubt a high-proof sip is on the way, but the proof heat is so balanced by the sweetness of honey, candied pecans, and fresh-baked fruit cobbler—a bit of peach and cherry (I always get cherry from Old Forester). I could smell this all day. Outstanding. Outstanding (echo).

On the palate, the scintillating proof heat greets the tip of the tongue, followed by lush caramel, cinnamon spice, and more wonderful cherry. A bit of chewing really unleashes warm milk chocolate, like a light, creamy chocolate soufflé. It just melts in your mouth with a hint of toasted marshmallow. Truly an elevated sip.

The long, gratifying finish delivers more decadent chocolate and rich cinnamon heat with just a tinge of oaky char and burnt caramel. This is everything you want in a bourbon. A fantastic store pick. What a palatal ride. Time for the Train.

‘Blue Train’

  • Artist: John Coltrane
  • Year: 1958
  • Players: John Coltrane (tenor sax), Lee Morgan (trumpet), Curtis Fuller (trombone), Kenny Drew (piano), Paul Chambers (bass), Joe Jones (drums)
  • RIAA: Gold (500,000 copies)

John Coltrane’s 1965 album, A Love Supreme, is considered his masterpiece. And I won’t argue with that. But Blue Train was his first album as a session leader (after being part of epic ensembles headed by Miles Davis and Thelonious Monk).

Blue Train, Coltrane’s five-song set of 40-plus minutes, showcases his rhythmic exploration of hard bop, before his roaring free jazz transformation. Four of the tracks are Trane originals, including the title track, which is now a jazz standard. Even if you’re not a jazz geeks, the 10-minute opening title track is probably recognizable in your musical recesses as the soundtrack to some event in your life.

And if you like the title track, be sure to stick around for the uptempo “Locomotion” (Morgan rockets on trumpet) and album capper, “Lazy Bird,” Coltrane’s harmonious iron horse. The free-flowing album is a reflective delight—just look at Trane deep in thought on the cover—that’s best enjoyed with a reflective sip of bourbon (high-proof bourbon, nonetheless).