The Old Forester 2006 Birthday Bourbon and Rocky Patel Vintage 1999

To me, Bourbon and Cigars go together like, well Bourbon and Cigars! Isn’t it obvious? The rich, leathery sweet tobacco flavors of a fine cigar pair so well with the sweet, spicy warmth of a smooth bourbon. MMmm, it just seems so instinctive to me.

I was enjoying the hospitality of one of my good friends on a Sunday, and he decided to temp me with with this exact combination. It was the early afternoon, probably about 26 degrees out and sunny. Then out came a Rocky Patel Vintage 1999 and the Old Forester 2006 Birthday Bourbon. My excitement grew…

Rocky Patel Vintage 1999

This cigar is a household name for me. I do generally prefer the big rich aromas of a maduro wrapper, but occasionally the smooth elegant flavors of a Connecticut cigar are just what I need. And really few do it as well for me at this Vintage 1999 by Rocky Patel. This cigar is made with one of the oldest Connecticut shade tobacco wrappers, blending a range of medium bodied, 7 year aged tobaccos. That is what I do love about this cigar; it is soft, buttery and light but has big rich aromas and complex flavors. Too often are light cigars just light and one sided. The Vintage 1999 really portrays excellent craftsmanship and unique qualities, as I would only expect from Rocky Patel.

The Vintage 1999 has an elegant sandy, and golden brown wrapper with very small veins. The pre-light nose is sweet tobacco, cedar, and touches of light spice. It does smell soft and gentle, and hopefully will smoke with an elegant presence.

I used a punch to cut the cigar and fired ‘er up. The first puff was easy and smooth showing round and floral aromas of earth, ripe tobacco, cedar and hints of spice. The smoke is very elegant but full and rich in flavor showing toast and butter. It put up a good show and proved to be a gentle, but beautifully flavorful cigar. The draw was flawless with just the right amount of tug necessary creating a perfect burn. It made me very excited to open it up to the Birthday Bourbon.

Old Forester 2006 Birthday Bourbon

The Old Forester really exemplifies heritage, as it is the first bottled Bourbon to exist. It is actually a great story. In the 1800’s you could not simply go and buy a bottle of bourbon from the corner store, you either had to find it at a tavern in a keg, or have your pharmacist prescribe it to you. But still, the bottles that the pharmacist were selling were often watered down with adjuncts added to them to mask that fact by their suppliers.

One pharmaceutical salesman, George Garvin Brown, understood that pharmacists were becoming frustrated by this, and he began to bottle and sign each bottle guaranteeing its quality. Thus the Old Forester Brand was born. Each year now Old Forester bottles a special vintage dated Bourbon (unlike the other Old Foresters which are a blend of years) to celebrate Brown’s birthday.

Just under 8,500 bottles of the 2006 Birthday Bourbon were produced. It is 95 proof, and comes in a beautiful pot-still shaped bottle. This vintage is deep brown and mahogany in color showing rich amber golds and heavy copper. The nose is potent and rich rounding off sweet butterscotch, toffee, vanilla, brown sugar, hints of orange and spice.

Onto the palate the Birthday Bourbon is big and delicious with huge flavors of blood orange soaked in brandy. A lush wave of dark caramel and nutty vanilla poured across my palate and engulfs every sense. Burnt brown sugar, spice and butterscotch is everywhere in this bourbon. It is smooth and elegant wit ha very luscious and creamy mouthfeel. It is absolutely sublime.

This is a cigar smokers dream bourbon, the round and complex richness, mellow sweetness and touches of fruit and spice make it perfect for a big meaty cigar. With the Vintage 1999 it was quite delicious, but slightly overpowering. It would be better suited for a deep maduro or corojo. Nonetheless, a delicious pairing with a beautiful cigar.


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