Whiskey Review: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2019 - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2019

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Brown-Forman. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.

Yes, it’s birthday time! Happy birthday to Old Forester founder George Garvin Brown. For years, I’ve looked forward to the release of the new Old Forester Birthday Bourbon. The fall season is a hey day for bourbon releases, and aficionados love it. I have to admit, it’s an exciting time.

But let’s talk Old Forester. The brand has been around for the better part of 150 years and still doing their thing. Their bourbons on the market range from the straight 86 proof to the noted “Whiskey Row” series, as well as the Statesman expression.

This year’s edition holds the highest proof yet, at 105. The Master Distiller Chris Morris and Master Taster Jackie Zykan hand selected and blended the 2019 expression. “Birthday Bourbon selections have ranged from nine- to 14-years-old since the expression was first launched in 2002,” said Zykan in a prepared statement. “When selecting the barrels for this year, we found something truly exceptional in this lot and we’re proud to call it our 2019 Birthday Bourbon.”

“September is a special month for us at Old Forester,” added Campbell Brown, Old Forester President. “We get to mark, in a public manner, through a carefully curated expression, the bourbon my great, great grandfather founded. It is a wonderful way to celebrate the legacy George left behind. And yes, I wish it was easier to locate!”

Yes, it can be difficult to get your hands on one of these, depending on the availability in your state or country. As with other coveted whiskey releases, there may be auctions or raffles through liquor vendors. Or perhaps, you know somebody who knows somebody. Sometimes, there’s that one random store that happens to have an unexpected gem.

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2019

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2019 (image via Kenji Mizumori/The Whiskey Wash)

Tasting Notes: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2019

Vital Stats: Aged 11 years in a batch of 120 barrels distilled on May 15th 2008 and blended at 105 proof, 52.5% ABV. ~ $100 per 750ml

Appearance: Light honey with sparse but long legs upon swirling in a glencairn glass.

Nose: Big heat up front, followed by cherry, maple, and toasted oak.

Palate: This one does well with a full sitting and experience. At the get go, lots of maraschino cherry, followed by vanilla. It’s complex, and found myself closing my eyes and allowing the flavors to rest on the palate. Really pretty. At 105 proof, it’s a flavorful whiskey, so let’s add a few drops of water. The cherry fades just enough and those classic bourbon flavors emerge with caramel and baking spice.

The Takeaway

Summary

Heck yes! The flavors are bright and long lasting in the finish. Adding a touch of water or an ice cube definitely added to the experience. I enjoyed the higher proof, resulting in a bolder flavor profile. It is certainly a sipper, especially as your palate grows accustomed to the bolder flavors and other nuances emerge.

4.5
User Rating 4.33 (3 votes)
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