Birthday Bourbon 2014
Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2015
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Aged 12 Years
It’s hard to believe it, but Between Two Barrels turned one year old today. One year since I decided to start writing about bourbon and rye whiskey, mainly as an exercise for myself, an attempt to start thinking long and hard about what I was consuming. Over the last year I’ve tasted so much fine whiskey, hundreds of pours, gone deeper into the world of whiskey than I’d ever expected, and I have to say it’s been a very rewarding (and expensive!) journey. My love for the spirit has not wained, and I’m still discovering new things I like and occasionally writing about them on here. Anyway, if you’re reading this, thanks for your support! This is not a big-deal site, not a heavily trafficked site (I currently get about 100 views a day, which seems like a lot to me, but in the grand scheme it’s nothing). I don’t advertise or make money in any way off the site. It’s just for people who want to read what one guy has to say about a certain bottle of whiskey, and I like it that way. I hope you do too.
It only seems fitting that on this first birthday, I review Old Forester’s Birthday Bourbon, right? Birthday Bourbon has become one of the hardest to find yearly releases, beginning to rival Pappy Van Winkle and Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection in the amount of waitlists, lotteries, price gouging, and gray market deals it inspires. And for good reason, these limited release bottles have a history of containing award-winning, super awesome bourbon, and it turns out people love super awesome bourbon. Who knew?
First released in 2002, they call it Birthday Bourbon because it is released every year around September 2nd to honor the birthday of George Garvin Brown (the Brown of Brown-Forman), whose face I think should appear on the $200 bill if ever we make one. Ok, ok, I say that about all my whiskey heroes. GGB and his half-brother J.T.S. Brown were the first to sell whiskey in sealed glass bottles, which seems like a no-brainer now, but back then (1870s) that was not the common practice. Since then, Old Forester has stuck it out through the highs and lows of history–even during Prohibition they were able to work with the U.S. Gov’ment to continue to sell their Old Forester whiskey for medicinal purposes. No brand has had as long a life as Old Forester. So there.
Today I did a blind tasting with Andrew…we chose two of the whiskeys to include–Elijah Craig 12 Year and Birthday Bourbon, the other two were chosen by our other tasting partner Mikey. He brought them out to us blind, and in the end I had chosen number one as my favorite, and number three as my second favorite. Well, number one turned out to be George T. Stagg, so that was kind of unfair to the rest of the whiskeys, but number three was Birthday Bourbon. The other two were EC 12 and Very Old Barton Bottled-In-Bond, a really varied and weird foursome! Here’s what I had to say about Birthday Bourbon 2014: The nose is sweet, lots of vanilla, not much fruit though a tiny bit of candy lemon peel. Lots of light sugars, candy-like notes as opposed to Stagg’s dark, burnt sugary notes. Oak is definitely present, but I was surprised by the age of this one when I found out what it was (thought it was younger). On the palate it’s as sweet as expected, but the oak is more present and balances the sweet out nicely, and it’s light-medium bodied so not cloying or sticky in the mouth. Fruit much more present on palate, sweet lemon, pound-cake. Finish is medium length and surprisingly crisp.
This is an interesting pour. In a lot of ways it’s just a classic bourbon, nothing super special, but the balance of it and the way different things poke out in different places makes it pretty unique in my opinion. Like most good things, if you get to know it it becomes more complex and rewarding.
Rating: 9.1 / 10
I’ve also just been informed that today is National Bourbon Day, which is a crazy, crazy coincidence that this website turns one today of all days.