Belated birthday in a bourbon bottle

The annual release of Old Forester Birthday Bourbon finally has been accomplished, extending the program to a sixth consecutive year.

The program marks the birthday of George Garvin Brown, founder of Old Forester, America's first bottled bourbon. However, his birthday is September 2, so this edition must be regarded as a belated birthday gift for consumers.

Actually, the delay was not unexpected. Chris Morris, master distiller for Old Forester, told me some months ago in Louisville, KY, that work being done on a one-time product -- Old Forester Repeal Bourbon that marked the 75th anniversary of the end of Prohibition -- and supply complications with the company's bottlemaker would delay this year's Birthday Bourbon.

Morris has stored this special bourbon in stainless steel tanks since its maturation ended several months ago, so it tastes the same as it would have had it been released in September.

"This year's Birthday Bourbon is crafted from a 62-barrel batch that was distilled and barreled in the late summer of 1995," Morris said. "These barrels were entered on the sixt floor of Warehouse H on September 6, 1995. This is an upper floor location which builds heat in the summer months, ensuring a robust, complex barrel character will develop.

"The result is a taste profile that is much more chewy in terms of rich fruit and caramel character than the 2007 and 2006 releases."

Standard Old Forester is a blend of whiskies from different years. Birthday Bourbon us a vintage-dated bourbon, hand selected by Morris from one specific day. Its decanter style glass echoes the sort of bottles first used in the late 1800s.

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