Old Forester 2020 Birthday Bourbon Review

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.

Old Forester 2020 Birthday Bourbon Review Header



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.



Since 2002, Old Forester’s Birthday Bourbon has been a favorite amongst whiskey enthusiasts, receiving a multitude of awards and recognition throughout the years.

The 2020 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is offered at a suggested retail price of $129.99. Birthday Bourbon will be available for purchase nationwide on an extremely limited basis. To find where you can purchase this year’s exclusive Birthday Bourbon, check out OldForester.com for a retailer near you.

Color: Dusty topaz

Nose: A nuanced balance of white floral notes, magnolia and citrus, spiced with vanilla, buttery leather and cocoa powder. Countering the spice are sprinkles of brown sugar, white chocolate shavings, caramel drizzle and hints of tropical fruit.

Palate: Caramel and brittle toffee lead as the tropical character blooms into banana, mango, coconut flakes and macadamia nut.

Finish: Long and delicately drying with a hint of anise.


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.

“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.