- 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.
Old Forester, America’s First Bottled Bourbon, will introduce its eighteenth Birthday Bourbon, the annual limited release created to mark the birthday of founder George Garvin Brown on September 2.
The 2018 Birthday Bourbon is the first iteration to be bottled at the new Old Forester Distilling Co., located in Louisville’s historic Whiskey Row – in the same space that Old Forester called home before Prohibition.
Selected from a single day of production and handcrafted by Master Distiller Chris Morris and Master Taster Jackie Zykan, this small batch bourbon offers a one-of-a-kind character and flavor profile that will never be replicated. A total of 120 barrels, distilled on June 9, 2006, were marked for this year’s Birthday Bourbon release. They were drawn from two locations: 93 barrels matured together on the 3rd floor on the northwest side of Warehouse J; the remaining 27 barrels matured together on the 3rd floor, northwest side of Warehouse I. The angels opted for a hearty share of 2018 Birthday Bourbon – the total yield was just 39 percent and five barrels were found to be totally empty.
The 2018 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is offered at a suggested retail price of $99.99. Roughly 2,400 (six bottle) cases will be available for purchase nationwide. It is offered at 101 proof, the highest to date for this annually released Bourbon.
Rich mahogany in color, the nose on 2018 Birthday Bourbon is singularly focused with pronounced rich, dark cherry cobbler note that opens into a dynamic build of caramel and dark chocolate covered smoked almond with hints of charred oak. A touch of herbal lemon tea, sweetened with a touch of honey, round out its depth of character. The tasting experience is multi-dimensional, with subtle sweetness that blossoms into warm and green-spice, brightened by lemon honey and followed by cherry cobbler. The finish is long and dry, with an herbal lemon honey sweetness.
Since the first release in 2002, Old Forester Birthday Bourbon has been a darling among critics and collectors alike. Birthday Bourbons have received recent distinctions including Outstanding, International Wine and Spirits Competition 2017; Extraordinary, Ultimate Recommendation, Ultimate Spirits Challenge 2017; and Gold Medal at Whiskies of the World 2016.
Tasting Remarks from Master Taster, Jackie Zykan:
“I find this year’s expression to possess a flavor profile perfectly aligned with the time of year in which it is released – days are subtly shortening, and we find ourselves indulging on the last remnants summer has to offer, all the while longing for the upcoming autumn transition – like a late summer evening at a lake house, enjoying a cherry cobbler, speckled with crunchy toasted almonds, still perfectly residually warm from the oven; sipping a tepid hot toddy, lemon wheel lazily floating in the mug as the stars begin to present themselves across the falling night sky.”
Color: Rich Mahogany
Nose: Singularly focused initially, with a pronounced rich dark cherry cobbler note; opens into a dynamic build of caramel and dark chocolate covered smoked almond nuttiness with hints of charred oak; a touch of herbal lemon tea, sweetened with a touch of honey rounds out its depth of character
Taste: Subtle sweetness blossoms into a warm and green spiced multi-dimensional experience, brightened by a lemon honey note followed by cherry cobbler
Finish: Long and drying, with an herbal lemon honey sweetness
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.