"I find this year’s expression to possess a flavor profile perfectly aligned with the time of year in which it is released..."
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.