I remember the feeling in the summer of 2017 when I caught a tall, good-looking bottle behind the counter bearing the Statesman label. I knew the newest installment of the Kingsman franchise – The Golden Circle – wasn’t due out until late summer, but I’d heard that there had been a small pre-release of the Statesman bourbon that figured prominently into the plotline. Imagine my delight when I saw a single bottle behind the counter at this Midwestern grocery-chain spirits store!
Kingsman: The Golden Circle follows our hero, Gary “Eggsy” Unwin, as he battles against a drug cartel headed by villain Poppy Adams. Along the way, many of the Kingsman agents perish in an attack and the remaining Kingsman agents make their way to America to join forces with their New World counterpart – Statesman. The U.S. based spy group operates the Statesman Distillery in Louisville, KY as a cover. In the end, good prevails, though not without some sacrifices along the way.
You may ask, “Why haven’t you toured the Statesman Distillery?” Well, the Kingsman spy-comedy franchise is fiction – and so is the Statesman Distillery. Thanks to a computer-generated imagery, the outdoor scenes of the Statesman Distillery and rickhouses exist only in the cloud. In fact, none of the scenes in The Golden Circle were filmed in the Bluegrass
Enough about the film – let’s get to the bourbon.
This comes in a tall, heavy glass bottle labeled Old Forester Statesman. Like other OF products, Statesman shares the same mash bill as its siblings: 72% corn, 18% rye and 10% malted barley. The bottle carries no age statement but does indicate it is bottled at 95 proof.
The Statesman expression is aged on the highest (and thus hottest) floors of their rickhouses, where temperatures reach 120 degrees during the summer. This “hot spot” in the rickhouse causes the bourbon to age quicker and create more evaporation (aka “angels’ share). The bourbon that remains behind comes into greater contact with the expanded barrel staves, imparting more intense flavors. Old Forester’s parent, Brown-Forman, indicates that Statesman is made from barrels that have aged from 4-6 years in this “hot spot”.
Eye: Dark brown with graceful legs when gently swirled in a glass.
Nose: Statesman exhibits a lovely nose, with strong notes of vanilla and caramel. There are also solid notes of wood char and heats of baking spices.
Palate: This has a deliciously creamy mouthfeel with heaps of vanilla and caramel followed by a lingering rush of spice and cinnamon.
Finish: Medium-long with sweetness, spice, and oak.
Overall: In typical movie critic style, I give two thumbs-up to Statesman. For a younger bourbon, it carries many great qualities. The only negative for me is the price. At $55, it’s in nearly the same category as Old Forester’s delightful Whiskey Row Series 1910 and 1920, and it is more than double the price of its Signature 86 and 100 proof versions.
The Old Forester 100 is one of my favorite everyday bourbons and the 1910 rendition may outpace the upscale Woodford Double Oaked (this sounds like a good Battle of the Bourbons). All this being said – do I like Statesman? Yes. Do I wish it was cheaper – you bet. For an upscale treat from Signature 100, Statesman will hold its own.
Manners maketh man. Statesman can have a spot on my shelf any day.