We’re really proud of what we’ve produced this year and think it’s a great way to celebrate George’s birthday and Old Forester’s historic anniversary.
JIM'S DESERT ISLAND WHISKEYS
OLD FORESTER 2020 BIRTHDAY BOURBONBOTTLE DETAILS
NOSE: Caramel | Corn | Spiced Cherries | Toasted Oak
TASTE: Rye Spice | Oak | Faint Sweet Honey | Green Apple
FINISH: Medium with lingering sweetness and some grain
SHARE WITH: While young, this is a blend to share with your “drink curious” not too judgy friends.
WORTH THE PRICE: I found Ingram an interesting expression. I am generally a Midwest Grain Products fan, and I like to support craft distillers/blenders with innovative ideas. With all that being said, at over $70 for a less than 4-year-old, sourced, blended whiskey, this would be a tough sell for me.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: This whiskey is not a bust. It has interest and depth that you wouldn’t expect by its age. The blending is done well and with the innovative take on aging, I will give it a BAR rating. Try it first, if you can, before you buy. In the fifty dollar range, I would be tempted to go bottle.
OVERALL: O. H. Ingram River Aged Straight Whiskey, I found interesting whiskey. Aged in a floating “rickhouse” at the confluence of the Ohio and Mississippi Rivers, in Ballard County, Kentucky. The theory being the gentle rocking of the barrels enhances the aging process. This process has its roots in the river transport of barreled distillate from Bourbon County delivered to New Orleans, with the transformed taste that apocryphally led to our native spirit. Does it make a difference? I have no idea, but there are a lot of people putting barrels on ocean voyages, riverboats, playing music to them, and even aging in cranberry bogs.
I have an issue with brands using invented or unrelated stories to support the “marketing” of their spirits. I don’t see that as an issue with O.H. Ingram. They have family history tied to the river and actually age on floating barges. They don’t hide the source, age, or mash bills of their product. Starting from typically quality rye and bourbon distillate from MGP in Indiana, aging for over three years and blended well, has produced a straight whiskey. It has a surprising depth for a young age. I found it drinkable neat, better with ice, but not particularly suitable for cocktails. My only issue with this product is the price, which is high for what it is. Understanding that the cost of sourcing and barreling probably drives this cost. If you find it in a bar, or you have the resource and drinking curiosity, I would not dissuade you from giving this one a try.
NOSE: Banana Candy | Varnish | Light Caramel | Sweet Cherry Sucker
TASTE: Slightly Metallic | Sharp, Thin Mouthfeel |Undistinguished | Dried Flowers
FINISH: Short, vaporous and drying
SHARE WITH: Fans of Birthday Bourbon, just to gauge their opinions.
WORTH THE PRICE: No. Even MSRP is too high for this. Secondary is out of the question.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bust for me.
OVERALL: Old Forester’s 100 proof standard is a super-versatile and amazingly affordable favorite of mine. Some of this year’s special distillery releases (such as the 150th Anniversary Bourbon, Batch 2, which I reviewed here) have been brilliant. But Old Fo’s Birthday Bourbons are always hit or miss for me. The 2019 Birthday was brilliant, one of my favorite ever. At the press event when we tasted it, master taster Jackie Zykan included slices of birthday caramel cake because she deemed it the whiskey’s paramount note. She was dead on. It was deep, dense and rich, just like the cake. So confident that we’d love that release, she even poured us a 150 proof-barrel strength sample that, believe it or not, was far softer than anyone would think.
This 2020 release lacks the backbone, complexity, character, caramel or breadth across the palate. That the finish is drier than a statistics lecture ensures I don’t want another sip.
OLD FORESTER CELEBRATES FOUNDER GEORGE GARVIN BROWN’S BIRTHDAY WITH 20TH ITERATION OF BIRTHDAY BOURBON
LOUISVILLE, Ky — Old Forester releases the 20th iteration of its limited edition, vintage-dated Birthday Bourbon on Sept. 2 in celebration of founder George Garvin Brown’s birthday. This year marks the 150th year of the company he began in 1870.
George Garvin Brown was a pharmaceutical salesman and became the first to seal his whiskey, Old Forester, in a glass bottle – an innovation the spirit industry still uses today. As the brand behind the First Bottled Bourbon™, Old Forester has had its share of historical milestones it its 150-year history, with quality and consistency remaining at the forefront.
The 2020 Birthday Bourbon will be bottled at 98 proof and is made up of 95 barrels, aged 10 years and barreled on June 5, 2010. After showing exceptionally unique character during a tasting panel, the 10-year-old barrels were chosen specifically for this year’s Birthday Bourbon. The full allotment of product represents one day’s production of Old Forester.
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“Being part of the Birthday Bourbon selection process is one of my favorite parts of my job because of the legacy and tradition this expression represents,” said Jackie Zykan, Old Forester Master Taster. “We’re really proud of what we’ve produced this year and think it’s a great way to celebrate George’s birthday and Old Forester’s historic anniversary.”
This is the third Birthday Bourbon to be bottled at the Old Forester Distilling Co. on Louisville’s Historic Whiskey Row. Hand selected by Master Distiller Chris Morris and Master Taster Jackie Zykan, this small batch bourbon offers a unique character and flavor profile that will never be replicated.
“Founded by my great-great grandfather, Old Forester the only bourbon brand with an uninterrupted 150-year history, sold by the same family company before, during and after Prohibition,” said Campbell Brown, Old Forester President. “Birthday Bourbon is the perfect way to celebrate his birthday and this milestone year makes it even more special. Its annual release has become something that bourbon lovers anticipate, and we really believe that the 2020 version is one of our best yet.”
Disclaimer: Old Forester Distilling Co. 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.