To Celebrate Old Forester’s 150th anniversary — the only bourbon continuously available, pre, during and post Prohibition, no less — for the first time since its inception in 2002 Old Forester’s Birthday Bourbon is available here in Australia in a select few bars. Very select. And very few. (Seriously).
Incepted to pay homage to Old Forester’s founder: George Gavin Brown, and his annual day of birth (or ‘birthday’, to non whisky aficionados) the 2019 edition is the 19th iteration of the series.
This most recent edition is bottled at 105 proof. It is slightly younger than recent releases, aged 11 years, but Old Forester Master Distiller Chris Morris and Master Taster Jackie Zykan felt these barrels were something special. The team chose 120 barrels for the release, representing a full day of production at the distillery. The barrels were laid down on May 15, 2008 and aged on the second floor of Warehouse I.
“Birthday Bourbon selections have ranged from nine to 14 years old since the expression was first launched in 2002,” said Zykan. “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.”
The distillery offers tasting notes that include a nose of “butterscotch and toffee… supported by layers of sweet melon and cornbread,” a taste of “rich oak spice and blackcurrant instantly warm coupled with light maple, caramel cake and white floral notes,” and a finish of “peppermint tea sweetened with honey, with ever long szechuan peppercorn.”
Like all Old Forester bourbon, it is crafted with a mash bill of 72% corn, 18% rye, and 10% malted barley.
Only 2,200 cases (a total of 13,200 bottles) of Birthday Bourbon were made available for sale globally, with a grand total of nine making their way down under to Australia.
The good people behind the operation of Old Forester in Australia have tried to spread these few bottles as far and wide as possible, meaning you’re hopefully not too far away from a bar serving this magnificent drop — whisky is to made to be drunk, and not just read about, after all — but with only six bottles making their way into Australian bars, possibly some travel may be required. But travel’s good for the soul. So’s whisky. So yeah; soul food.
We’ve listed the five venues lucky enough to get their hands on a bottle (and really, it just one bottle per bar) so if you’re a whisky (or birthday) fan go and check them out once the bars reopen.
If you’re both, like us, drop everything. It’s worth it.
Where to find Birthday Bourbon
The Baxter Inn
Clarence Street, Sydney
Whiskey & Alement
Russell Street, Melbourne
Lefties Old Time Music Hall Bar
Petrie Terrace, Brisbane
Varnish on King
King Street, Perth
Odgers Lane, Canberra