Distilleries | Limited Releases | Old Forester Distillery | Review

Every Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Reviewed [2021]

Sep 21, 2019

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by Matty Sims

Glencairn Whiskey Glass

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon is an annual release and celebrates the birthday of their founder George Garvin Brown on Sept 2nd every year.

“September is a special month for us at Old Forester.” Campbell Brown, Old Forester President. “We get to mark, in a public manner, through a carefully curated expression; the bourbon my great, great grandfather founded. It is a wonderful way to celebrate the legacy George left behind. And yes, I wish it was easier to locate!”

According to bourbon historian Michael Veach:

In 1870 George Garvin Brown was a pharmaceutical salesman for Henry Chambers and Co. He was selling whiskey to doctors and pharmacies. After hearing complaints about the changing quality of the whiskey the doctors were prescribing to patients, Brown came up with the idea of bottling whiskey to ensure the quality.

Most whiskey at that time was being sold out of the barrel at the pharmacies, saloons and liquor dealers. Bottles were expensive and would cost more than the whiskey that went into them yet this made sense to the specialized market of medicinal whiskey. People would pay more for whiskey if it was for health reasons.

Chambers agreed it was a good idea, but decided that he would rather see Brown start a company to create this whiskey. So instead, he agreed to help Brown set up his own company to sell the whiskey. With Chambers’ help, George Garvin Brown and his older brother J.T.S. Brown, Jr. set up a company and created Old Forrester.

Related:

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The Best Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Ranked

As I add more reviews, this comparison table will be updated so you can see how they stack up against each other:

The Best Birthday Bourbon Ranked
95 Reviewer
0 0 votes
Nose
Taste
Finish
93.3 Reviewer
0 0 votes
Nose
Taste
Finish
91.7 Reviewer
0 0 votes
Nose
Taste
Finish
90.7 Reviewer
0 0 votes
Nose
Taste
Finish

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2021 Review

The new label for Old Forester’s 2021 Birthday Bourbon was just released. This year’s release will be 12 years old and 104 proof. The neckband will be green (see below).

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2020 Review

Birthday Bourbon 2020
BB 2020Details
In the Bottle98 Proof
ABV49%
Mashbill72% Corn, 18% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age10-Years-Old
Style95 barrels
Barreled on June 5, 2010
One day's production of Old Forester
Bottled at the Old Forester Distilling Co. on Louisville's Historic Whiskey Row
Size750 mL
Suggested MSRP$130
DistilleryOld Forrester
ProsComing Soon
ConsComing Soon
AvailabilityAllocated
RatingComing Soon
InventoryComing Soon

Full Review Coming Soon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2019 Review

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2019 Review
Birthday Bourbon 2019
BB 2019Details
In the Bottle105 Proof
ABV52.5%
Mashbill72% Corn, 18% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age11-Years-Old
Style120 barrels distilled on May 15, 2008 and aged on the second floor of Warehouse I
Size750 mL
Suggested MSRP$100
DistilleryOld Forrester
ProsBright, Deep Red Fruit
ConsNo Major Flaws
AvailabilityAllocated
RatingGold 95 out of 100 Points
InventoryStock...if you can find it

Describing this year’s release, Jackie Zykan, Master Taster, says:

“Birthday Bourbon selections have ranged from nine- to 14-years-old since the expression was first launched in 2002. When selecting the barrels for this year, we found something truly exceptional in this lot and we’re proud to call it our 2019 Birthday Bourbon.”

She further elaborates on some tasting notes for this year’s release: “a taste consisting of rich oak spice and blackcurrant coupled with light maple, caramel cake, and white floral notes.”

Thick and oily beads of bourbon roll down the curves of my Glencairn whiskey glass

Nose – 95 out of 100 Points

The minute I popped the cork this Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2019 smacked me in the face with full flavors of tart red berries and cherries. Reminds of me of a good old fashion cherry pie with a flaky, buttery crust that’s got a sugary glaze.

Just a hint of baking spice dancing in the background. This is a whiskey I could nose all day.

Taste – 95 out of 100 Points

White pepper starts the show than it’s an explosion of complex and balanced under ripened fruit flavors, the backend has some oak, baking spice, and just a pop of that yeasty flavor note I get from a lot of the Old Forester whiskey row series.

Finish – 95 out of 100 Points

Great finish. Stewed fruit, oak, black pepper, and it just warms the entire throat. A Kentucky hug at its finest.

Verdict – Gold 95 out of 100 Points

For me, Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2019 is a must buy if you can find it at retail $99.99. It’s rich, complex, and overall delicious. The problem? It’s hard to find. Your best bet? Stockpile some bottles you can trade for what you want later especially between Sept to Nov when all the limited releases hit the shelves.

What you can probably get your hands on is some solid store picks from local groups or honey holes. Worst comes to worst pick up a bottle of Old Forester 1920 or 1910. Both are solid and well worth drinking.

If you’ve had this year’s Birthday Bourbon, share your tasting notes below.

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2018 Review

OF BB 2018

Birthday Bourbon 2018
BB 2018Details
In the Bottle101 Proof
ABV50.5%
Mashbill72% Corn, 18% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age12-Years-Old
Style93 barrels aged on the 3rd floor, NW Warehouse J
27 barrels aged on the 3rd floor, NW Warehouse I
Size750 mL
Suggested MSRP$100
DistilleryOld Forrester
ProsGreat Nose
ConsFalls Flat Through Finish
AvailabilityAllocated
RatingSilver 91 out of 100 Points
InventoryPass for Me

Long ribbons cover my Glencairn. The color is deep bronze.

Nose – 95 out of 100 Points

Savory baking spices play beautifully with apple pie strudel and caramel with pops of bright, crisp apples.

Taste – 90 out of 100 Points

Light on front. Mild baking spice and oak. Pop of briny saltwater taffy. I’m just missing the flavor explosion from the nose. I want those deep, rich caramelized flavors and that crisp apple.

Finish – 90 out of 100 Points

It was a medium to long finish with more savory notes like cinnamon, leather, and white pepper.

Verdict – Silver 91 out of 100 Points

The Bard Silver 300px

The nose blew me away. My taste buds were primed for something over the top delicious but the taste and finish fell flat. It was light and muted compared to the vibrant flavors on the nose.

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2017 Review

Birthday Bourbon 2017
BB 2017Details
In the Bottle96 and 95.4 Proof
ABV48% and 47.7%
Mashbill72% Corn, 18% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age12-Years-Old
StyleAll distilled on May 27, 2005
120 12-year old barrels from different warehouses and floors
93 barrels from the 4th floor of G warehouse
27 barrels from the 5th floor of K warehouse
External wall in the sun Old Forester’s heat cycled warehouses for several barrels

Full Review Coming Soon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2016 Review

Birthday Bourbon 2016
BB 2016Details
In the Bottle97 Proof
ABV48.5%
Mashbill72% Corn, 18% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age12-Years-Old
Style93 barrels
14,400 bottles
Largest Birthday Bourbon Releases as of 2016
Barreled on June 4, 2004
Aged on the 5th floor of Warehouse K
West Facing Window

Nose – 95 out of 100 Points

Stewed fruit. Musty leather. Cinnamon undertow. Charred oak.

Taste – 93 out of 100 Points

Pop of fruit followed by bold cinnamon and charred oak with subtle leather. Spicy black pepper on top of the tongue.

Finish – 92 out of 100 Points

The finish is long. Faint sweetness. More oak, cinnamon, and black pepper.

Verdict – Gold 93.3 out of 100 Points

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2015 Review

Birthday Bourbon 2015

Birthday Bourbon 2015
BB 2015Details
In the Bottle100 Proof
ABV50%
Mashbill72% Corn, 18% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age12-Years-Old
StyleSame warehouse for all barrels
Aged near a window
Close to a heat cycling duct
Very high temperatures
Size750 mL
Suggested MSRP$80
DistilleryOld Forrester
ProsOak Forward
ConsNot My Fav Flavor Combo
AvailabilityAllocated
RatingSilver 91 out of 100 Points
InventoryPass for Me

Birthday Bourbon 2015 offers low to medium glass coverage with a copper color and glimmers of amber.

Nose – 91 out of 100 Points

The nose is full of savory leather, oak, tobacco, and black pepper. There’s an underlying sweetness from charred caramel and brown sugar.

Taste – 90 out of 100 Points

The palate follows suit but the charred caramel and brown sugar are more prominent front of the palate (and a building pepperiness) along with toasted oats and dark chocolate with a medley of the savory notes from the nose — leather, charred oak, tobacco, and black pepper — at the mid- and back palate.

Finish – 91 out of 100 Points

The finish is long with black pepper, dark chocolate, and tobacco carrying through the end

Verdict – Silver 91 out of 100 Points

The Bard Silver 300px
Birthday Bourbon 2015 has the sweet notes I’ve come to expect from these Old Forester releases but with savory notes in boatloads. It was a solid entry but not necessarily my favorite flavor pairings.

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2014 Review

Birthday Bourbon 2014
BB 2014Details
In the Bottle97 Proof
ABV48.5%
Mashbill72% Corn, 18% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age12-Years-Old
StyleNo Barrel Info

Full Review Coming Soon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2013 Review

Birthday Bourbon 2013
BB 2013Details
In the Bottle98 Proof
ABV49%
Mashbill72% Corn, 18% Rye, and 10% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age12-Years-Old
StyleNo Barrel Info

Full Review Coming Soon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2012 Review

Birthday Bourbon 2012
BB 2012Details
In the Bottle97 Proof
ABV48.5%
Mashbill72% Corn, 16% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age12-Years-Old
StyleSingle day’s 82 barrel batch
Extra 2% of malt added to the fermenter
Warehouse H

Full Review Coming Soon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2011 Review

Birthday Bourbon 2011
BB 2011Details
In the Bottle98 Proof
ABV49%
Mashbill72% Corn, 16% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age12-Years-Old
Style62 barrel batch of 99Fll
Northern and Ozark terroir sourced white oak
Aged in warehouses H and I
1st and 6th floors

Full Review Coming Soon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2010 Review

OF BB 2010

Birthday Bourbon 2010
BB 2010Details
In the Bottle95 Proof
ABV47.5%
Mashbill72% Corn, 16% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age12-Years-Old
StyleBarreled October 1997
Middle of Warehouse K
5th floor in ricks 42, 43, and 4

Full Review Coming Soon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2009 Review

Birthday Bourbon 2009
BB 2009Details
In the Bottle97 Proof
ABV48.5%
Mashbill72% Corn, 16% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age12-Years-Old
StyleSmall Warehouse B and larger Warehouse J
5th and 8th floors
98 barrel batch of 97C19

Full Review Coming Soon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2008 Review

Birthday Bourbon 2008
BB 2008Details
In the Bottle94 Proof
ABV47%
Mashbill72% Corn, 16% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age13-Years-Old
Style6th floor of Warehouse H
Upper floors where heat builds

Full Review Coming Soon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2007 Review

Birthday Bourbon 2007
BB 2007Details
In the Bottle94 Proof
ABV47%
Mashbill72% Corn, 16% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age13-Years-Old
StyleNo Barrel Info

Full Review Coming Soon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2006 Review

Birthday Bourbon 2006
BB 2006Details
In the Bottle96 Proof
ABV48%
Mashbill72% Corn, 16% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age13-Years-Old
StyleBarreled one week prior to the 2005 Birthday Bourbon
Aged for One Additional Year
Aged on the 7th floor of Warehouse H

Full Review Coming Soon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2005 Review

OF BB 2005

Birthday Bourbon 2005
BB 2005Details
In the Bottle96 Proof
ABV48%
Mashbill72% Corn, 16% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age12-Years-Old
StyleAged on the 7th floor of Warehouse H
Extreme Heat

Full Review Coming Soon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2004 Review

Birthday Bourbon 2004
BB 2004Details
In the Bottle94 Proof
ABV47%
Mashbill72% Corn, 16% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age8-Years-Old
StyleWarehouse L during a cycling period

Full Review Coming Soon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Fall 2003 Review

Birthday Bourbon 2003 Fall
BB 2003 FallDetails
In the Bottle89 Proof
ABV44.5%
Mashbill72% Corn, 16% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age13-Years-Old
StyleLow heat cycling
Not exposed to rising heat or sunlight

Full Review Coming Soon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon Spring 2003 Review

Birthday Bourbon 2003 Spring
BB 2003 SpringDetails
In the Bottle93 Proof
ABV46.5%
Mashbill72% Corn, 16% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age13-Years-Old
StyleAccelerated heat cycling
In the Sunlight

Full Review Coming Soon

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2002 Review

OF BB 2002

Birthday Bourbon 2002
BB 2002Details
In the Bottle95 Proof
ABV47.5%
Mashbill72% Corn, 16% Rye, and 12% Malted Barley
Distilled and AgedBrown-Forman Shively Distillery
Age13-Years-Old
StyleBarrels were soaked in a thunderstorms before being filled

Full Review Coming Soon

Start shopping for bourbon swag for your journey. The Bard’s Shop has custom tees and hoodies, books, barrels, and more.

Why Trust The Bourbon Bard?

Written by Matty Sims

Matty Sims is a storyteller who loves bourbon. He has been drinking and studying whiskey for over 10 years. He has also been featured on sites like Bourbon Sippers, Explore Whiskey, Thrive Global and Inside Hook, partnered with dozens of distilleries, and reviewed hundreds of whiskeys. He has also created single barrel stickers for Bourbon Pursuit and Total Wine.
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