Distiller: Brown-Forman. 49-50% ABV. Age: 12 years. Price: $60-80 (if you can find it)
The Birthday Bourbon is a special edition Brown-Forman releases each September to honor co-founder George Garvin Brown (born Sep. 2), who conceived of the idea of selling bourbon in sealed glass bottles. With this innovation, he launched his company in 1870.
As a limited annual release, the OFBB profile does change a bit year to year. Many tasters have pointed to the 2013 as a particularly good one…and I’m definitely one of them.
The 2013 OFBB has a big, rich, corn-sweet nose. The taste: Cracker Jacks. Salted Caramel. Dark oak. Cotton candy. Somehow not too sweet, in spite of the nose. Creamy. Substantial body, and at 49%, hugely enjoyable without any water. Long oaky finish.
The 2015 is hotter on the nose at first, but with a little time rounds out, with caramel, dark oak, and dry mint. Oak spice and more mint on the palate, then roasted peanut and pecan notes. The sweetness is subtler than the 2013, with less of the cotton candy and caramel corn I love in that one.
OFBB remains a great pour, a great bottle, and needless to say, a great gift. But with the price creeping up every year, the question of value is a fair one. The 2015 is good, but there are many excellent bourbons out there for less than $80.
They just don’t say “birthday” on them. – BO