OF= Old Forester Mint Julep, MM= Maker’s Mark Mint Julep, Mint Julep made with Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond and True Kentucky Mint Julep Elixir=MJE
MM: Maker’s Mark, Loretto, Kentucky, USA (Beam Suntory)
OF: Early Times/Old Forester, Louisville, Kentucky, USA (Brown-Forman)
MJE: Town & Country Specialty Foods, Bardstown, Kentucky, USA
MJE: N/A (made with 50% ABV bourbon)
MM: $36/1 liter (The Party Source)
OF: $28/1 liter (Michigan State Minimum)
MJE: $5/5 oz bottle (makes 30 drinks with 2 oz of bourbon accord to label). Works out to around $28 a liter.
Head to head tasting
Tasted in julep cups with crushed ice
MM: Mint strong up front, then fades to bourbon sweetness and iced tea. Pleasant if a little chewy in the finish.
OF: Fruity up front. Not as bitter, but sweeter. Old Forester bite in mid palate fades to a sweet, slightly minty finish.
MJE: Practically all bourbon, even after adding more ice and syrup to make up for high proof. Syrup lingered at the bottom of the cup even with extensive stirring before pouring over ice.
The Liz Factor
My wife is a lover of the Maker’s Mark Mint Julep and always makes sure we come home from Kentucky with a bottle every spring. She tasted MM & OF blind (when I offered her one made with the syrup she politely declined having tried it before) and to her surprise found that she preferred Old Forester even though she liked both. She found MM to have an unpleasant aftertaste.
Parting words: I don’t drink a lot of pre-made cocktails but when we found both the Maker’s Mark and Old Forester Mint Juleps at Liquor World in Bardstown, Kentucky last weekend I thought a head to head would be a fun idea, since Liz enjoys the MM so much. I prefered MM over OF myself, but I’m not sure it’s worth the extra $8 or so. MMMJ has gone off the Michigan list for some reason so I couldn’t do an apples to apple comparison on price unfortunately. The mint julep syrup just didn’t cut it at all and reminded my why we’ve had the same little bottle sitting on our shelf for years. I’ve made my own mint syrup in years past and that worked a little better. None of these are a substitute for a well made home or bar Mint Julep.
Both Maker’s Mark and Old Forester Mint Juleps are recommended, though OF is a better bargain. MMMJ and OFMJ are only available in stores around Kentucky Derby time in late April and early May. True Kentucky’s Mint Julep Elixir is not recommended. Brown-Forman also makes an Early Times Mint Julep which is awful and highly not recommended. It is what is served in the stands at the Kentucky Derby if one orders a julep without specifying a bourbon.