Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Each year on September 2nd – in honor of the founder George Garvin Brown’s birthday – Old Forester releases a limited-edition, 12-year old vintage-dated expression. Old Forester Birthday Bourbon has become a must-have for bourbon enthusiasts who want to experience the ultimate in rare handcrafted bourbon. Since its introduction in 2002, Old Forester Birthday Bourbon has received unprecedented acclaim, with an impressive collection of national and international whiskey honors.
The 2018 Birthday Bourbon: On the nose, the whiskey definitely has a bold caramel characteristic to it. And on the palate—after the first sip—you’ll notice that the caramel flavor intensifies into something that’s a little less sweet. Closer to almost-burnt caramel with hints of very dark chocolate. Further, into the tasting, you’ll then notice the spice and the influence of the charred oak, along with a mild creaminess. And though the finish is long, it’s the kind that’s got a little burn to it—meaning this year’s expression, as good as it is, isn’t as smooth as Birthday Bourbon 2017. I’d say, like most whiskeys, it’d benefit from a few drops of water to open it up and expose all the aromas and flavor profiles. Overall, the bourbon itself is exceptional and in keeping not just with the Old Forester DNA—but with the Birthday Bourbon DNA as well: It’s certainly very Old Forester, just elevated into something that’s richer, extra tasty, and more complex.
The 2017 Birthday Bourbonwas drawn from 12-year-old barrels from different warehouses and floors. A total of 120 barrels; 93 barrels matured together on the 4th floor of G warehouse, yielding an extremely spice forward expression. The remaining 27 barrels matured together on the 5th floor of K warehouse contributing a rounding sweetness to the blend. Several barrels from both lots basked in the sun, highlighting the effects of maturation along an external wall. Mulled spice sweetness and fruity with bright citrus peel highlights. Finish is long and warm with mulled fruit character lingering on.
The 2016 Birthday Bourbon is fresh and fruity, definitively not woody, particularly on the nose, which exudes notes of cloves, spiced gingerbread, and muddled cherries. These pleasant aromas come alongside a more gentle, encompassing lacing of barrel notes, which feels a bit winey at times. The palate is quite luscious, offering bright cherry fruit (I was immediately reminded of Baker’s Bourbon), dark chocolate, more cloves, and a hint of licorice. The finish is drying and bittersweet, but not primarily influenced by traditional, classic barrel flavors.
The 2015 Birthday Bourbon on a nose has layers of oak, both resinous and toasted, merge with a medley of tobacco leaf, dry herbs, and nut character. Taste is warm mulled spice and nutty notes, all subtly sweetened with a touch of honey.Finish is warming and dry, with a long, smooth, nutty character.