November 4, 2013

Happy First Birthday SmokyBeast! - Review: Old Forester Birthday Bourbon 2013

Gray Hairs on a Beast

Can you believe it?  SmokyBeast is officially one year old!  Wifey and hubby want to say thank YOU!  Thanks to all of you who have read our boozy meanderings, left us a comment or a few words of encouragement, liked us on Facebook, invited us into your home to share a drink (or from time to time and incredible lineup of drinks!), the amazing professionals who have shared their time in interviews, those of you who have stuck with us from the beginning and those of you reading for the first time.  Thanks to the outrageously talented Asa Davis who illustrated our awesome new logo.  Thanks to all of our new friends in the welcoming world of whiskey (in no particular order) like Josh, Cece, TristanJohanne, Allison, Raj, Winston, Joshua, Anthony, Jonathan, Norman & Rob, and many more.  Cheers!  We absolutely love doing this and hope that you stick with us for another year and many more to come.

Happy Birthday to Us!

Ok so what could be more appropriate on our first birthday than Old Forester Birthday Bourbon?  In a bout of serendipity, we finally got our hands on a bottle of this year's juice within a week of our own special b-day post!

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, Distilled 2001 - Bottled 2013

Ain't there just something FESTIVE about this little bad boy?  Maybe it's the colorful seal (it comes in a different color every year) or the squat old-skool bottle, the classic logo or the warm caramel color in the glass...  Whatever it is it just screams "Na na na na na na, they say it's..."

Personal Fav

Ok we like this stuff.  Last year's was great.  It's just so old-timey, so Mad Men meets Boardwalk Empire.  Such sweet vintage goodness.

Some of these old treats (like the bowling pin decanter) are actually worth big bucks these days.

The Old Forester Bowling Pin Decanter

Bordering on Obsession

Ok maybe we REALLY like it.  Ok maybe we kinda like this stuff a little too much.  Maybe we've actually been sort of collecting it dating back a few years.  Every time we drink a bottle, we buy one for the shelf.  Ok maybe this is sort of a problem.  This is our eight year's worth of unopened Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, aka "OFBB".

The "OFBB Shelf" @ SmokyBeast Headquarters - OFBB '06, '07, '08, '09, '10, '11, '12, '13

One day we'll open them all and do an insane mega-birthday tasting.  But not this year.  Sticking with 2013 for now...

Tasting Notes

Nose: Really intense cream soda.  Dr Brown's in the beige can.  Followed up by some rich vanilla, some nice mellow oak, and a little spiciness like maybe Worcestershire sauce.

Palate:  The wood comes through for more of dry spicy kick, it's actually quite light with a nice rye grain flavor and some distinct nuttiness like dry roasted peanuts.

Finish:  Top of the mouth honeyed fruit cake sweetness, very little to no spirit burn.  Not the most remarkable finish, but there's very little wrong with it.  Just a solid well-balanced rich, sweet, and immensely drinkable whiskey.


Frankly, it's the best yet.  There have been some good ones.  2010 got the highest ratings from the community.  It was the woodiest, the most mature tasting for sure.  2007 and 2008 got panned, although they were still pretty tasty in our opinion.  Honestly they've been getting better and better every year.  2012 was the best to date.  2013 is no exception.  It's the richest, the most vanilla and brown sugar, but also the smoothest, the most well-rounded, and the best overall.  It's a little bit more expensive, averaging around $55-$60.  Previous years were in the $40-$45 range.  It's a no-brainer.  If you're lucky enough to find a bottle, don't hesitate to pick it up.  If you do, let us know.  Send a happy birthday cheers to the beast when you crack the bottle!

Sorry for the sobby sentimental post, but y'all have made us really happy this year.  Cheers/SB


  1. Congrats on the year anniversary, steve. I found this year's OFBB really interesting. In that - kind of like the first edition of the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof - the first glass of the bottle was really tight and slightly off-putting. But once it opened up, on the second or third glass, it had completely changed and i'm really enjoying it. cheers. - terry/drinkinsider

    1. Cheers Terry! Yeah agreed the bottle opens up a lot once it's been open for a few hours/days. Not quite as much as some of the barrel proof beasts (Willett 6-Year Bourbon for example is a completely different animal after a couple of weeks with some air), but still anything that's been cooped up in a bottle for more than 10 years generally should have time to open up. Maybe the one exception is Four Roses Small Batch LE which tastes perfect the second you open the bottle. (stay tuned for our War of the Roses coming in a couple of weeks for the holidays where we go through the entire line!)

  2. Had OFBB this weekend at a great local bar. They just cracked the 2013. Well-rounded is it. It's like vanilla pudding with enough kick. Now if I could just find a bottle. I'm eyeballs deep into the FR 125 Anv SmB and its so overrated and overpriced I could cry!!

    1. Really you didn't like the Four Roses? Last years was a tough act to follow but it's still great stuff. We're actually doing a review of the whole line in a couple weeks so stay tuned. If you need help finding OFBB, like us on FB and send a message and we might be able to help you find some depending on your state...

  3. That's the problem with all the hype. You expect too much sometimes. I suppose its just me, but FR in general has always been a bit of a challenge to figure out and the 2013 LESmB is no different. It's not 'bad' in any regard, the question is if it has the providence worthy of the acclaim. Half way through the bottle I'd say no.

    But I look forward to your write up. You guys have the best blog going. I'll check you out on FB.

  4. Since when did the OFBB 2007 get "panned?" OFBB 2007 was named American Whiskey of the Year by John Hansell!