I'm sipping a Louisville Old Charter 7yo/86 proof bottled in 1981. The aroma is bigger than any current OC and has some soft floral notes. The flavor: nice bit of maple-brown sugar sweetness and spice up front, and then holy fruit salad, Batman! Cherries and very ripe peaches (with a bit of the nuttiness of their pits). Also some plummy notes (continuing the stone fruit theme). The bottle has been open for a while, and the fruitiness has always been there, but breathing a bit has accentuated it, I think.
Last night, I had an OT 86 that's been open for a month or so. Spice cake with walnuts and a heaping of plum jam on top. I mean, loads of fruit.
I've noticed that a fair number of ND and UDV products from the late 70s and 80s seem to have more fruit character than their current counterparts (or any but the best products of today - and very few of those really compare in terms of fruitiness). For example, OGD across the board, Old Taylor, the aforementioned Charter, and Old Crow all carry big and distinct fruit notes.
The fruit rounds out the palate of these whiskeys, playing beautifully against spice and wood notes. It strikes me that there is very little in the market today that compares. The premium products tend to be extra-aged, or at least older than the stated 6 yrs of OT, 7 yrs of OC7, etc. Some are younger: ETL comes to mind as an example that has some comparable levels of fruitiness. But the whiskeys with more age pick up so much leather, tobacco, and vanilla (which I love) that the fruit can vanish. Still, though, it isn't the same.
There are some really great whiskeys available now, and I appreciate it. But what I want to know is, how could current distillers approximate this level of fruitiness? Is it purely a function of distillation proof and/or barreling proof (I'm thinking in terms of congeners; e.g. WT products have some fruit - though it's different, more citrusy), or is it perhaps affected by the age of the wood used in barrels?
Don't get me wrong; I wouldn't complain about the huge variety and stellar quality of current production whiskeys available today. But I wish there were something that tasted like this OC or that Old Taylor I had last night. So, how could it be done?