Thursday, February 23, 2023

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Kentucky Straight Bourbon - 2021

- $160
- 104 Proof
- 12 Years
- Kentucky

I've been lucky enough to try Birthday Bourbon pretty much every year for the past seven years or so, mostly because I've had friends that have been lucky enough to snag a bottle, and I was, in turn, lucky enough to have them share with me. A couple years I managed to try a pour at a bar. But, I've never actually purchased a bottle for myself.

I've had opportunities, but I've passed and let friends get one instead.  And I've found that some releases have been way better than others, so I never really felt like taking the chance. But, for 2021's release, it was offered to me and I finally bit the bullet, despite the relatively steep price. I certainly made this bottle last a while, but the other night I was itching for something from the top shelf, and, despite having nothing to really celebrate, I finally finished it off. 

I popped the cork and was immediately impressed by the nose on this bourbon. Right up front I got loads of cinnamon spice, along with rich and sweet chocolate and cherry. There was also a very distinct oaky note, but without any bitterness to detract from all the other great, mouth-watering aromas I was getting.

Much like the nose, the flavor was also very cinnamon forward. That seemed to be the predominant note, along with a healthy amount of dark chocolate, bringing with it a little bit of bitterness.  The oak note that I got off the nose was also present, but it, too, brought with it some tannic notes contributing to the bitterness.

The cinnamon note seemed to turn, at some point, into more of a cloves note.  It developed a cherry note as well that complemented the cloves well. That cherry note seemed to land somewhere between an artificial cherry note and a fresh cherry note. There was also a distinct cereal note as well, kind of like plain Cheerios. 

The viscosity was off the charts, and this had a very oily texture, which provided a nice, long finish. There I got even more of that Cheerios note, coupled with the cloves and cherry notes. That combination of flavors seemed to linger in my mouth and at the back of my throat forever between pours.

All in all, this was a good bourbon, but it just had those sharp tannic notes which, while not overpowering, nonetheless detracted from everything else going on. I also wasn't super high on the cherry note. Given the price point, I think I'll be a try-before-I-buy guy going forward on Birthday Bourbons.

Grade: B

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