Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2018 Bottle

Old Forester 2018 Birthday Bourbon Review

In Bourbon Whiskey Reviews by Steve Coomes3 Comments

"I find this year’s expression to possess a flavor profile perfectly aligned with the time of year in which it is released..."
– Jackie Zykan
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Old Forester 2018 Birthday Bourbon

  • DISTILLER: Old Forester (Brown-Forman)
  • MASH BILL: 72% Corn | 18% Rye | 10% Malted Barley
  • AGE: 12 Years.
  • YEAR: 2018
  • PROOF: 101 (50.5% ABV)
  • MSRP: $99.00

NOSE: Vaporous, stinging even when rested | banana candy, ripe pineapple | toffee, some butterscotch

TASTE: Caramel, cured tobacco, leather | warm oak, graham cracker, hard fruit candy

FINISH: Slightly dry and long | predictably tannic for 12 year heat-cycled whiskey | delicious lingering rye notes

SHARE WITH: Bourbon fans and fans of long-aged spirits

WORTH THE PRICE: If you’re a Birthday Bourbon fan, $99 is accepted as the going rate, especially if you’re a Birthday vertical collector. Sad truth is it’ll be hard to find at that price or at all despite the larger-than-usual 14,400 bottle release.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bottle if you can get it. If you want a pour, I advise it come from a bottle that’s got some headspace.

OVERALL: I’m a fan of about every Fo’ on the shelf, but I was not quick to like this bottle. When first opened, my press sample was sharp, edgy, not inviting. I gave it time in the glass—a 45-minute rest, in fact—but it wouldn’t come to heel. I let it sit a week or so and revisited it. Sadly, more of the same: unpleasantly vaporous, oaky across the plate and dry on the finish. After putting it back on the shelf for at least two weeks, a different whiskey emerged. Old Forester Birthday came to the glass wearing the birthday suit of old: lots of aromas of candy, roasted pineapple warmed oak and toffee. Softness and mouthfeel had replaced the rough edges of the month before, and added complexity emerged with graham cracker and leather.

So what to do if you get a bottle and run into the same issues I did? You might make a couple of indulgent cocktails to create some good headspace to induce some softness. If you’re wholly against doing that with “a sipping whiskey,” consider pouring some into a smaller bottle. Or your palate may vary wildly from mine and align with some reviewers whose works showed they loved this the moment they removed the stopper. That’s the fun of whiskey tasting: It’s never the same for everyone every time.

Learn more about Steve’s whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews…

Disclaimer: Old Forester provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.

About the Author
Steve Coomes

Steve Coomes

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Steve Coomes is a Louisville restaurant industry veteran turned award-winning food writer. In his 27-year career, he has edited and written for dozens of national trade and consumer publications including Pizza Today, Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living. As a spirits writer, Steve's byline can be found in Whisky magazine, Bourbon Review, WhiskeyWash.com and other publications. In 2014, he authored the book, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and has authored other titles as a private ghostwriter.


  1. Avatar

    Got a call a few weeks ago from a store owner who told me he got his first case of Birthday Bourbon and asked if I wanted a bottle. Picked it up a couple of days ago and have not opened it as yet. I will follow your advice and will pour some in another bottle to let things air out. Maybe I will try my wife’s wine aerator to see what that does. Looking for good things to come.

  2. Steve Coomes

    <>Now, why didn’t I think of that? Hell of an idea! For whatever reason, anything out of BF lately has been a bit bold upon opening, and much better after a rest and head space. I’m willing to say, “That’s all on me, not them,” because I’ve seen others love it straight out of the gate.

    Report back when you open it up!

  3. Avatar

    You might also consider pouring off a few shots into your infinity bottle if you’ve got one. I do this from time to time if a little headroom is needed.

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