a few months ago. I thought it was okay but I didn't have a strong impression one way or another.
Then all hell broke loose on straightbourbon.com. The very first reviewer wrote, "Odd… must and baby diapers were my first impression as I waved it past my nose." It went downhill from there.
Now that I've had a chance to taste it properly, I can see what some people might not like about it. There is very little of the candy notes that many bourbons, and even typical Old Forester, exhibit. It's slightly bitter with what I characterize as a dry wood note predominating. It's not char and it's not the caramel-vanilla flavor you usually get from wood. It's more like what you expect from an old scotch that has spent a long time in a barrel that was already spent before the whiskey even got there.
It is 12-years-old and in some ways tastes older. It definitely leans toward the herbal side of the bourbon taste wheel.
One thing I enjoy about the Birthday Bourbon series is that it's always different, sometimes very different. That's not what producers usually do. Even Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage strives for continuity from year to year. Old Forester Birthday Bourbon doesn't. What Master Distiller Chris Morris is going for, I think, is more of a "that's interesting" reaction.
I'm not saying the people who dislike it are wrong, it's not for everyone, but I would hate for someone to be scared away from it because it got so many negative reviews.