Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2017 Review

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

Another trip around the sun.

For the fifteenth incarnation of Old Forester’s birthday bourbon they decided to go with  12 year old barrels from different warehouses and floors. According to Old Forester;

A total of 120 barrels; 93 barrels matured together on the 4th floor of G warehouse, yielding an extremely spice forward expression. The remaining 27 barrels matured together on the 5th floor of K warehouse contributing a rounding sweetness to the blend. Several barrels from both lots basked in the sun, highlighting the effects of maturation along an external wall.

This release comes in two proofs, 96 [48% ABV] and 95.4 [47.7% ABV] and assuming they managed to get 150 bottles per barrel, that would put it around the 18,000 – 20,000 bottle mark. A limited release but not as limited as some years for this particular expression.

The distillery lists their tasting notes as:


Complex and cinnamon wood spiced with nutty chocolate, dark caramel and rich oak notes all brightened with a dash of crisp citrus fruit.


Mulled spice sweetness and fruity with bright citrus peel highlights.


Long and warm with mulled fruit character lingering on.

I agree with much of this, it is highly citrus and one of the most floral bourbon’s I’ve come across in recent memory. I’m curious if the sun maturation really brought out the spice from the wood. Here’s what I got from it:


Very citrus, more lemony notes. Vanilla and bergamot over caramel, with more cedar than cinnamon. Despite not being too high in proof, careful sniffing this one as it’ll get you.


Sweet and leans towards more floral herbs and spices, cardamom, saffron, all spice berries, more citrus still leaning towards the lemon side, maybe kumquat.


Fairly dry and I agree on the warmth, it’s not too hot of a whiskey neat. Here is where some of the more traditional bourbon notes start to shine through for me. The oak is light overall but there is some nice char to it rather than straight wood, honey, and caramel. It’s not an overly sweet finish which is nice.

I was really surprised at both the complexity and overall flavor profile 2017’s Old Forester Birthday Bourbon. It is nothing like their standard offering and I think marrying barrels from different parts of the warehouse and sun baking them took this whiskey to new places.

Compared to last year’s offering, this one really strays from the path in my opinion. While it does have many of the traditional whiskey notes it’s surprisingly complex and definitely won’t please everyone. But that doesn’t mean it isn’t excellent. For me I would prefer this over something more standard and sweet after a good meal rather than a wheaty dessert bourbon.

Old Forrester Birthday bourbon should have hit almost all US markets by now and MSRP is $79.99 on it. If you see a bottle I highly recommend grabbing one as it’s really a stand out release. If you’ve tried it, what are your thoughts?

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