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It still feels like we’re in deep summer, but the reality is that there’s only about a month left until fall arrives. While that’s a depressing reality for many, in the whiskey world that means that annual unicorn bottle releases are on the way, and we have the details on one of the most popular: Old Forester’s 2023 Birthday Bourbon.
We got a sample of the new Birthday Bourbon to try, and the good news is that this year’s release is a big step up from last year’s decent but slightly underwhelming edition. Birthday Bourbon is the annual whiskey expression from Kentucky’s Old Forester distillery that is meant to commemorate founder George Garvin Brown’s birthday. This year marks the 23rd Birthday Bourbon, and the details are as follows—the bourbon was aged for 12 years and bottled at 96 proof. The latter is the same as last year’s release, but the bourbon is a year older. As usual, the barrels selected for Birthday Bourbon represent a single day’s production at the distillery—and these are actually from the same lot as last year’s release, which is why it’s a year older.
The nose starts off with sweet honey and caramel, with just a hint of spice and heat swirling underneath. The palate opens up with a big hit of fruit and citrus notes, ripe orange and clementine flavors mixing with blackbeerry and cherry pie. There are also notes of toasted pecan, toffee, vanilla, espresso, and a bit of tannic oak that is rich but not drying. The finish sticks with you for a few moments, but fades out leaving a bit of sweetness on your tongue. Overall, this is a solid example of just how good Birthday Bourbon can be.
Last year, Old Forester made a significant change as to how the general public could purchase a bottle of Birthday Bourbon. The whiskey no longer goes on sale at the distillery on September 2, George Garvin Brown’s birthday. Instead, for the second year in a row, there will be a sweepstakes running from August 24 through August 30 that bourbon fans can register for to enter. The good news is that means you don’t have to visit Kentucky to get lucky enough to score a bottle, but the chances of obtaining one for the $150 SRP remain fleetingly slim. You can enter the sweepstakes at the Old Forester website next week, and you can still find previous years’ releases (for very inflated prices) to purchase from online retailers like Drizly.