I reviewed the 86 proof Old Forester here, and that review may be useful to compare the 86 and 100 proof expressions. The 100 proof bourbon is made from the same, somewhat standard, mashbill of 72 % corn, 18 % rye, and 10 % malted barley. The difference, of course, is that the 86 proof is cut with more water to achieve the lower alcohol content.
Old Forester 100 proof is dull orange in color. The nose is a combo of buttery spice and caramel. It is not overpowering with astringency, as other higher-proof bourbons are. Its aroma encourages a taste. Mouthfeel is clean, and not viscous. Tasting reveals a few readily discernable levels: A syrupy sweetness one the roof of the mouth, a rye spiciness on the tongue, and a permeating dry oakiness that seems to fill the palate like smoke. The taste showcases, for sure, the higher proof, but does so without sacrificing smoothness. It finishes with a warm, lingering tingle, not a burn, and with some of the oak barrel.
Old Forester 100 proof is a great bourbon, and falls in the category of cheaper bourbons that successfully compete with the higher-priced premium whiskies. It is a balance of sweetness and spiciness, and of high proof and smoothness. It is brash enough to satisfy your bourbon tastes, but nuanced enough to evoke thoughtful sipping.
Like the Old Forester 86 proof, I had not tasted the 100 proof before this review. Unlike some bourbons that are forgettable, the 100 proof OF immediately reserved a spot in my liquor cabinet, and may very well become a staple in the rotation.