Category Archives: Old Forester

Review: 2015 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

The 2015 edition of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is the 14th release to commemorate (Brown-Forman and Old Forester founder) George Garvin Brown’s September 2nd birthday. This 12 year old bourbon was bottled from a single day of production, June 13, 2003 and aged in one location. According to the distillery it was also aged somewhat aggressively near a window and heat cycling duct. As a result the barrels were exposed to higher temperatures than normal. How does this impact the 2015? Let’s find out.

birthday_20152015 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon , 50% abv (100 Proof), $70/bottle
Color: Medium Amber
Nose: Big, rich nose of vanilla, butterscotch, burned caramel, heaps of wood spices (cinnamon and clove), hints of orange peel, and a healthy dose of oak. Not nearly as much fruit character on the nose vs. previous releases, but I like the wallop. Responds well with some water.
Palate: Creamy vanilla, dark dark caramel syrup, molasses, barrel char, and cinnamon red hots. Sweet and spicy with a lot of zip. The heat from the proof and the spice calm quickly with a few drops of water, revealing candied orange and golden raisin.
Finish: Charred oak, caramel sweetness and cinnamon spice linger a long long time. Beautiful.
Overall: I always find the Old Forester Birthday Bourbon nose to be a real masterclass. While not nearly as nuanced as previous years, the 2015 is stellar in it’s own right. On the palate the proof and spice mingle with the creamy sweetness to create something quite different. It’s perhaps not as well rounded as past releases, but it comes off well here. Clearly the distillery was going for something a bit bolder and brasher than previous releases, and they executed well. The price is much higher, but what limited release isn’t these days? It’s an outstanding pour.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.1 (Outstanding)

Review: 2013 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

Brown-Forman has been producing the distillery’s annual Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (OFBB) release since 2002. Named after the distillery’s founder, George Garvin Brown, the release celebrates Mr. Brown’s September 2nd birthday. I personally have a love-hate relationship with the OFBB release. The 2010 I rated a whopping 9.3 – superb stuff. Other annual releases have ranged from underwhelming to very good. The question is did Brown-Forman bring out the good stuff for 2013…….

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (2013), 49% abv (98 Proof), $54.95/bottle
Color: Medium Amber/Copper
Nose: Vanilla custard, caramelized banana, chocolate, dried dark fruits, and bright orange oil. Gentle oak character, but overall rich, sweet, and fruit forward.
Palate: Vanilla, butterscotch, pecan, and dried fruit livened with bitters, ginger, nutmeg, and hints of toast.
Finish: Lingering caramel sweetness, barrel spices (clove, nutmeg), and humming warmth.
Overall: The 2013 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (OFBB) is as epic a nose as you will find in the whiskey world – absolutely jaw dropping. The palate is perfectly proofed, harmonious, and on the sweeter side. I can easily say you’d have to look at the 2010 release to find an OFBB release as strong as this years. Even at $55 I consider the 2013 release a must try for bourbon lovers. Send me your opened bottles if you don’t enjoy the hell out of it – my birthday is right around the corner.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.5 (Superb)

Old Forester Bourbon Review

I just returned from vacation with three new reviews ready for this week. Unfortunately there won’t be video accompanying them, but we’ll be back to the vids starting next week. First up on the review front is Old Forester Bourbon. 1512 Barbershop Rye and Very Old Barton (BIB) are up next. Cheers!

Old Forester Bourbon has been around a long time, since around the 1870’s in fact. Produced by Brown-Forman in Shively, Ky, Old Forester’s 72% Corn, 18% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley is the same mashbill used for Woodford Reserve and Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, two bourbons I rated quite highly. There is no age statement on the bottle, but this one is around 4+ years in age and at a great price point. So how does it fare?

Old Forester Bourbon, 43% abv (86 Proof), $15

Color: Medium Amber

Nose: The strength of this whiskey – caramel corn, ripe apricot, wood spices, earth, and barrel.

Palate: Corn, caramel, vanilla, a diluted fruitiness, and a pinch of cinnamon/nutmeg spice – all encapsulated by a sturdy oak veneer.

Finish: The finish is moderate in length with dry oak asserting itself mightily, along with some bitter char, and a faint caramel sweetness struggling to bust through.

Overall: This one starts with a bang – the nose is very good and presents numerous layers, especially for a whiskey at this price point. The flavors on the palate however lean a bit towards pedestrian. The sweetness, fruit and spice never quite assert themselves as much as the oak influence on the palate. However, considering the price point, Old Forester packs some value in that simple bottle.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: (7.9 Good)

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2010

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2010, 47.5% abv (95 Proof), $40/bottle

Welcome back Birthday Bourbon. Well, to be truthful it never went away, but recent offerings have been sub standard in comparison to earlier years. The 2010 release is right up there with some of the best from this limited edition product. That same deep red, amber color yields a big and rich nose of vanilla custard, clove, nutmeg, dark brown sugar, ginger, candied citrus peel (orange), and dried fruits. The oaky nuances are there, but never overpower the nose – love it! In the mouth, Birthday Bourbon assures with wonderful winter spices – clove and nutmeg, hot ginger, brown sugar, vanilla, raisin, and bitter orange. Sounds like the best the fall/winter has to offer doesn’t it? Again the oak is there but well integrated and a supporting character in spite of the fact this whiskey spent 12+ years in the barrel. The finish of this whiskey is superb – long and lingering hot and spicy with the bitterness of orange, sawdust and wood. Old Forester B-day is a fantastic pour of whiskey just in time for the holiday season.

Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.3 (Superb/Outstanding)