Any Old Forester special release collectors out there are going to have to hit the road if they want a complete set of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon this year, because the distillery is releasing two bottles for 2017, and they won’t both be sold in every state.
Birthday Bourbon is traditionally a small batch made entirely of one day’s production of whiskey. The purpose of the product is to honor founder George Garvin Brown’s September 2nd birthday with a delicious bottle of 12-year-old bourbon.
Oddly enough, the product was almost never released, since 17 years ago, when it first debuted, there wasn’t really a market for high-end bottles. We’re admittedly big fans of Old Forester’s special releases, from the delicious Prohibition 1920 released late last year to pretty much every Birthday Bourbon to have ever come out.
The 2017 batch is from May 27, 2005, and was housed in a variety of warehouse locations, including sun-facing walls and high floors. Old Forester Master Taster Jackie Zykan, who started work on Birthday Bourbon with the 2016 release, says this year’s bottles are chocolate and pepper forward. It’s essentially a deep and spicy bourbon, with a dry finish.
But the unique element of the 2017 release is that it will be released at two proof points. Because there were evaporation issues when transferring some of the bourbon from holding tanks to the bottling line, some bottles will be released at 96 proof, and others will be labeled 95.4 proof.
We’ve not yet had the chance to taste either, but you may have trouble finding both. Only Florida and Georgia will get the 95.4 proof release, with 96 bottles going to the remainder of states. Oh, except Kentucky: they get both, of course. We don’t have an exact bottle count to share with you, but stocks are always notoriously small of this special release bourbon, especially since there were only 120 barrels to begin with.
The bottles will both retail for $80, though that’s before taxes, and of course we expect to see inflation in that depending on your market and retailer of choice.