Old Forester launches Statesman bourbon in partnership with “Kingsman” movie release

If you’re a fan of the Kingsman series of action adventure movies, then you know the next release, The Kingsman: The Golden Circle, is due out in September.

If you’re also a fan of Old Forester bourbon, all the better, as a new 95-proof release dubbed Statesman will be featured in the film—but not in a mere product placement role. In the movie, the Kingsman, a London-based elite international crimefighting organization, meets its American counterparts, the Statesman, who operate their namesake distillery as a front.

“Bourbon isn’t just part of the movie, it’s central to the plot,” said Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer at a Monday morning press conference. “And if you’re going to take bourbon as your theme in your movie, what better place to frame those scenes than here in Kentucky.”Kingsman pic

According to Campbell Brown, president of OId Forester, when the movie’s writer-director, Matthew Vaughn, requested the brand participate in the movie, he said he was intrigued. Vaughn wanted technical advice on how to represent a distillery in the movie, and he wanted it to have connections to Louisville and Kentucky.

Accepting Vaughn’s offer was “a little bit of a leap of faith for us, but I think you will see this film is intended to be Matthew’s love letter to Kentucky,” Brown said.

He joked that movie “certainly isn’t to be mistaken as a film documentary on bourbon film making,” but he said Old Forester was thrilled to be a part of the picture and is proud of its “ties back to the Commonwealth.”

In the movie, Statesman members wear belt buckle flasks filled with, presumably, Statesman Bourbon.

In the movie, Statesman members wear belt buckle flasks filled with, presumably, Statesman Bourbon.

Stacy Yates, vice president at the Louisville Convention & Visitors Bureau, said her group is launching an international marketing effort to promote the city alongside the release of the film. The promotion will include a sweepstakes named “A Statesman Experience in Bourbon Country,” which will see guests win trips to the city for extended stays and visits iconic attractions that are mentioned in the movie.

After Brown presented Mayor Fischer with what he said was the first bottle of Statesman to come off the line, attendees then were treated to a sip of the new release. Its official market launch is set for August, but a few cases will be available at select spots throughout Churchill Downs this weekend, and at a few retailers.

Master bourbon specialist Jacquelyn Zykan said that by law, liquor brands aren’t allowed to release product to just one location, but she didn’t know which Louisville stores would receive what amount to small allotments.

“I’m thinking it’s probably just a few bottles for those stores that get them,” she said. “And all that is up to the distributor.”

So how does it taste? It’s fantastic and already in the running for my favorite Old Forester release. It’s complex, big, round and balanced, with lots of stone fruit, spice and a wisp of smoke.

Old Forester’s official notes on the spirit are aromas devil’s food, clove, oak and an undercurrent of raw vanilla. On the palate “buttery leather is quickly dominated by a bold flash of pepper, cinnamon bark and sharp citrus. Finish is intense spice and eucalyptus which fade into orange cream and caramel.”

The bourbon is a mingling of an undisclosed number of 4- to 6-year-old barrels Zykan said were pulled from the hot spots in its rickhouses. “Since we heat cycle, the temperature stays pretty consistent throughout our warehouses,” she said. “But there are some spots that skew a little hotter than others, whether it’s right in the sun (near a window) or near a heat duct.”

And here’s the doozy of a marking spin: “The whole premise behind this brand was, the Statesman and Kingsman, their true character shows when they get into a little heat,” Zykan said. “So that was the idea behind the bourbon: to pull from the hotspots to see what it does. And it turned out awesome.”

“Bourbon District” Will Guide Walkers on Downtown Bourbon Tour

And for Louisville’s next attempt at capitalizing on bourbon tourism, Metro Government brings you a bourbon walk.

At a press conference this week, the city announced plans for its Bourbon District, a four-phase plan to introduce “historic site signs, destination signs, banners and a pop-up event scape” to create a walking path guiding tourists to bourbon attractions. It will be located in an area along Main Street from 10th Street to Jackson, and along Fourth from Main to Broadway.

In an interview, Mayor Greg Fischer said he takes satisfaction and pride in the 24 million tourist visits to Louisville last year, a number he said was not thought to be possible five years ago.

“Bourbon tourism is something some folks snickered at when we started talking about this, when I was running my first campaign,” he said. “But it is authentic to our city.

“People go to Napa for wine, they come to Louisville and Kentucky for bourbon tourism.  I think we are really early in that game right now. It allows us to punch above our weight, especially in the restaurant category.”

Mayor Fischer with Solid Light CEO Cynthia Torp unveiling the first marker at Sixth and Main.

Mayor Fischer with Solid Light CEO Cynthia Torp unveiling the first marker at Sixth and Main.

The Bourbon District Project is being led by the Louisville Downtown Partnership, the Convention and Visitors Bureau and local government. The Kentucky Distillers Association is also involved in the project’s creation.

Fischer said the idea of creating a walking tour sets the city apart. He said there are plans for nine downtown bourbon experiences, with four already open. He unveiled the first historical marker on Main Street this week.

“It’s a walking district, if you will,” he said. “You can’t walk Napa Valley because it’s so spread apart. You can actually walk our Bourbon District. Back in the day of course, the bourbon would come down to the River, Whiskey Row, and be loaded on to the boats and off it went. So it just adds to our heritage and authenticity.”

The goal is to create a self-guided bourbon history experience on a path that will highlight the city’s other attractions, such as its restaurants. Fischer said that $9-10 billion in current capital construction is underway, and that 20 new hotel projects have been announced since the start of construction at the Omni Hotel.

The design of the District is being completed by Solid Light, a local company in the business of building visitor experiences.