By Richard Thomas
It’s escaped the notice (or at least the commentary) of all of my colleagues, but Summer 2023 has been an unusually busy time for the release of much sought after American whiskeys. This is because some stuff that normally doesn’t drop in summer was delayed, like Old Fitzgerald Spring 2023. Add to that a few items that just happened to appear in mid-year, like Michter’s Toasted Barrel Rye.
Now add to that the trio of major releases we expect to come every summer: Parker’s Heritage, Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition and Old Forester Birthday Bourbon. I used to say that if these whiskeys weren’t scheduled for annual summer release to preempt the red hot, very busy autumnal bourbon season, then they should have been, but Summer 2023 was pretty busy in its own right.
But just because it is much sought after does not mean Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is a unicorn, especially not this year. Brown-Forman has announced a sweepstakes, open to entry online from today to August 31. Winners will be able to go to the Old Forester destination distillery in downtown Louisville to pick up their bottle after September 8.
As for what is there to be won, this year’s batch comes from a lot of 103 barrels, all 12 years old, drawn from Warehouse I, 5th floor. The dump was bottled at 96 proof.
I found the pour to have the look of bright, clear ice tea, sitting in that middle amber part of the spectrum. The nose smacked of dried peach shavings and vanilla drizzle heaped on a toasted cinnamon graham cracker. That vanilla drizzle morphs out into a thick sweetness of molasses and dark honey, accented again by peach, but this is nearly drowned by a rising tide of dry, oaky spices coming on at the back end. That tide recedes in the finish, leaving behind traces of peach and vanilla. Morseo than any other part of the experience, its that finish that makes this Birthday Bourbon something special.
If you get to pay recommended retail price, expect this item to run you $170.