Today we celebrate two things.
No. 1: It’s Labor Day and most of us have the day off. Woot!
No. 2: It’s George Garvin Brown’s birthday, which means it’s time for Old Forester to honor its founder by releasing Birthday Bourbon! Double woot!
Now, most of us did not stand in line overnight to score a bottle at the distillery, but I have hope I’ll be able to snag one eventually … I’m just not certain of where or when. But good things come to those who wait, right? And I’ve got all year to try to find one.
So what makes BB so special other than having the same initials as the Bar Belle?
Well, this one, the 19th of the series, is both high proof and older — sitting at 105 proof, the highest proof to date for this special expression, and 11 years old. I was fortunate to sample this year’s juice next to the previous year’s and can attest it is delicious and worth any effort you might give to track down a bottle or shot from a liquor store, bar or tasting room.
“Birthday Bourbon selections have ranged from 9 to 14 years old since the expression was first launched in 2002,” said Jackie Zykan, Old Forester Master Taster, in a news release. “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.”
About 120 barrels all distilled on the same day in 2008 were selected for this BB, which was chosen by Zykan and Old Fo Master Distiller Chris Morris. And according to the release, Zykan detected notes of rich oak spice and black currant coupled with light maple, caramel cake and white floral notes.
When we did the media sampling at the distillery with Zykan, she actually served the bourbon with caramel cake so we could try them side by side. The bourbon is so velvety and smooth, I didn’t even need the cake for comparison — but of course I took a few bites anyway.
I could have sworn I also got some rich chocolaty notes as well, and of course that hint of banana that sometimes appears in older Brown-Forman bourbons.
A little over 13,000 bottles of the 2019 Old Forester Birthday Bourbon will be released nationwide starting Sept. 2 for a suggested retail price of $99.99. And 72 people who stood in line more than 24 hours this morning were the first to purchase them — but like I said, hopefully we can get lucky if we’re patient and kind.
As a reminder, my birthday is Oct. 5, so the universe can do with that what it will.