Bourbon > Birthday Cake

If you’re looking to drink something special and cool on your birthday, look no further than Old Forester’s limited annual release of their now wildly popular, 12 year small batch Birthday Bourbon. If you read my piece on the Top 10 Birthday Gift Bourbons you’d already know this! As an Old Forester fan, I’m always excited for the Birthday Bourbon release no matter it’s hit-or-miss reputation. Luckily, I’ve found that all the releases have one thing common- they all pair really well with Birthday Lemon Cake.

Just Tell Me About The Bottle, Damn it!

Barreled on May 27, 2005, this year’s Birthday Bourbon is offered at 96 proof and a more limited quantity, 95.4 Proof bottling. This years release marks the 16th limited edition, handcrafted by Master Distiller Chris Morris and Master Taster Jackie Zykan. Old Forester had this to say about Birthday Bourbon this year:

“The 2017 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon was drawn from 12 year old barrels from different warehouses and floors. 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.”

Released, as always, on George Garvin Brown’s birthday September 2nd, the 2017 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is bottled at 48% ABV, 96 proof. For this review I will be tasting the whiskey with and without a few drops of water in a Glencairin glass.

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided as a sample for Superfly Bourbon Club from Old Forester. In no way, does acquiring the bottle in any form manipulate the direction of this review. Some information sourced from

Tasting Notes: 2017 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

Contents: 48% ABV // 96 proof // Small Batch // Blend of 3 different bourbons 12, 13, and 15 years old.

Bottle yield: ~20,000

MSRP: $79.99 depending on market. I found the bottle for this review at $79.99 in the San Francisco Bay Area, California.

Appearance: Caramel apple

Nose: Right after the pour it has that intense citrus aroma, specifically lemon and cream followed by baking spices, barrel char, and chocolate covered cherry. There is also a lingering chocolatey oak. Squeeze a couple drops of water in the glass and chocolatey dry fruit aromas present themselves.

Palate: Spice forward and more citrus. The citrus note is reminiscent of lemon custard with a small basil leaf. Lots of tobacco, chocolate and dried fruit throughout.

Finish: Dry oak spice, but decently long and lingering with honey.


Personally I enjoyed last year’s release of Birthday Bourbon. It had a larger explosion of flavor. This years release, in comparison, is missing a lot on the palate that 2016 had. It’s hot with tobacco, chocolate and fruit. That’s all I really get on the palate. It’s still a great bourbon, but with the hype this bottle has now, I expect more from the blending process. It’s possible with the high sun maturation that the barrel’s released a lot more spicy tannin, which makes me think the limited quantity 95.4 proof bottling is even spicier because the barrel’s were possibly the 27 barrels matured together on the 5th floor of K warehouse. The higher in elevation, the closer to the sun’s rays surmounting in a greater barrel extraction with the juice. The nose, however, is the best part of the 2017 release. It’s gushing with citrus, caramel, fruit, chocolate and cream. Once it hits my tongue, it quickly goes downhill.


Drinker Type: If you like spicier bourbons and/or a fan of Old Forester, this years Birthday Bourbon will make you happy. However, if you’re a hardcore fan of the Birthday Bourbon release and have high standards of each one, then this one will fall in the not-so-good category of Birthday Bourbon releases. It has a lot to offer on the nose but the palate and finish has you left on base every time, like the Dodgers did in Game 7 of the World Series.

Worth buying again? If I find it for retail I’ll buy another just to satisfy my limited release craving, especially since I love collecting each year’s release, but if you’re a regular drinker just let this one sit on the shelf for a Old Forester fan.

Tasting Notes From Old Forester:

Appearance: Rich amber honey

Nose: Butterscotch, dried fig and tobacco, with a touch of chocolate covered candied citrus.

Palate: Toffee and brown sugar lead in to dried cherry, black peppercorn, and roaring spice.

Finish: Dry and intense spice rounding out into hints of floral bouquet.

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided as a sample for Superfly Bourbon Club from Old Forester. In no way, does acquiring the bottle in any form manipulate the direction of this review. Some information sourced from

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon

Michael Inglima

Michael Inglima

Michael Inglima is a full time Graphic Designer, amateur writer and Creative Director of Superfly Bourbon Club. He has been a long-time bourbon enthusiast and advocate based in the San Francisco Bay Area. His number one goal in the bourbon universe is to educate new-comers and develop a unique brand of like-minded individuals.

View all posts by Michael Inglima

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