close
Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, Dewar's Japanese Smooth, & More [New Releases]

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon, Dewar's Japanese Smooth, & More [New Releases]

July 9, 2021 –––––– Ted Simmons, , , ,

No matter how you prefer your whisky, there's no denying the benefit of adding a bit of water. Some drams open up with a splash, and we have a handy calculator to help you determine exactly how much to add. A dropper is an ideal tool to add a precise amount of water; check out these stylish and sleek droppers, including one from glassware company Glencairn.

If you are looking for a whisky for adding water, we have those as well. Old Forester has released the details for this year's highly sought after Birthday Bourbon, Dewar's adds to its Smooth line with a mizunara finish, and Uncle Nearest commemorates the opening of its distillery visitors center with a special release. Read on for full details.

Old Forester Birthday Bourbon (2021 Release)

Style: Straight bourbon

Origin: Kentucky

Age: 12 year old

ABV: 52%

Price: $130

Release: September 2021

Availability: Limited

Need to know:

This year's batch of Birthday Bourbon, the 21st edition from Old Forester, comes from 119 barrels that were filled on April 16, 2009 and matured in Warehouse G. As is the case every year, Birthday Bourbon will be available on Sept. 2 to commemorate George Garvin Brown's birthday.

Whisky Advocate says:

Birthday Bourbon was first introduced in 2002, and is always between 9 and 14 years old and 90 to 105 proof. Last year, we tasted the 2020 release on Instagram Livewith Old Forester master taster Jackie Zykan and discussed how she puts each batch together and which is her favorite. One of the most coveted whiskey releases of the year, Birthday Bourbon will undoubtedly go fast.

Dewar's Japanese Smooth

Style: Blended whisky

Origin: Scotland

Age: 8 year old

Proof: 40% ABV

Price: $25

Release: July 2021

Availability: Widely available

Need to know:

The Dewar's Smooth line continues to grow with this release, finished in Japanese Mizunara oak casks. Previous Smooth releases were finished in rum, mezcal, and port casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

The Smooth line explores the influence of different cask types on Dewar's, always bottled at 8 years old. We have spoken to Dewar's master blender Stephanie Macleod twice on our Instagram Live series #TasteWithSpace, first discussing Illegal Smooth, and later, Portuguese Smooth. We received a preview of the new Japanese Smooth, scoring it 91 points and naming it an Editors' Choice in the Summer 2021 issue.

Uncle Nearest Master Blend Edition

Style: Tennessee whiskey

Origin: Tennessee

Age: 7 year old

ABV: Varies

Price: $150

Release: June 2021

Availability: Distillery only

Need to know:

When blending Uncle Nearest small batch, master blender and fifth generation Nearest Green descendant, Victoria Eady Butler, sets aside barrels she deems most special. This new whiskey, bottled at barrel strength, is a blend of those barrels.

Whisky Advocate says:

Uncle Nearest opened up its Shelbyville doors to the public on June 19, celebrating the second phase of its massive 270-acre distillery project. To commemorate the occasion, the brand has released this new whiskey, which is available only at the distillery.

The ImpEx Collection Edition One

Style: Single malt

Origin: Scotland and Israel

Age: Varies, from 3-40 years

ABV: Varies

Price: Varies

Release: July 2021

Availability: Widely available in limited amounts

Need to know:

The ImpEx Collection Edition One whiskies include:


  • 25 year old Springbank Oloroso Sherry Cask Finished (Cask No. 94) 1993, 47.5%, $900 (135 bottles)

  • 40 year old Blend (Cask No. 34) 1980, 45.5%, $350 (525 bottles)

  • 28 year old Cameronbridge (Cask No. 115125) 1992, 51.8%, $200 (425 bottles)

  • 12 year old Caol Ila (Cask No. 313250) 2008, 58.4%, $120 (262 bottles)

  • 14 year old Glen Elgin (Cask No. 9800012) 2006, 52.5%, $120 (169 bottles)

  • 21 year old Orkney (Cask No. 58) 1999, 50.8%, $200 (301 bottles)

  • 3 year old M&H PX Sherry Cask Finished (Cask No. 2017-0123) 2017, 58.9%, $90 (135 bottles)


This is Edition One of The ImpEx Collection, which features single casks of scotch and a world whisky from M&H Distillery in Israel, as well as three rums. In addition to the single casks, the ImpEx Collection includes vattings from various casks of fine spirits and small-scale batches of unaged spirits, such as mezcal.

Whisky Advocate says:

Founded in 2008, ImpEx Beverages is the importer of a number of highly rated whiskies, including Kilchoman, Penderyn, Glenallachie, Fukano, and M&H. This is the company's first venture into independent bottling.

Currach Atlantic Wakame Seaweed Cask

Style: Single malt

Origin: Ireland

Age: Not stated

ABV: 46%

Price: $65

Release: September 2021

Availability: 3,000 bottles (720 for the U.S.)

Need to know:

Made from 100% Irish malted barley, this triple distilled Irish single malt was initially matured inAmerican oak bourbon barrels before being finished in Atlantic Wakame seaweed-charred virgin American oak casks.

Whisky Advocate says:

This is an exciting time for Irish whiskey, as covered in our Summer 2021 issue. One of the ways Irish whiskey makers are driving innovation is through cask finishing, and this certainly qualifies, as Currach claims to be the first in the world to finish its whiskey in seaweed-charred casks. The cask finishing is meant to showcase Ireland's maritime terroir and follows up its 2020 release of Currach Atlantic Kombu Seaweed Cask.

Blue Note 17 year old Single Barrel

Style: Straight bourbon

Origin: Tennessee

Age: 17 year old

ABV: Varies

Price: $175

Release: July 2021

Availability: 6,000 bottles

Need to know:

This 17 year old single barrel bourbon is the oldest release from Memphis-based bottler B.R. Distilling, which produces Blue Note. It was made with a mash bill of 84% corn, 8% rye, and 8% malted barley. The proof will vary from barrel to barrel, with a range of 44% to 56% ABV.

Whisky Advocate says:

While scotch whisky resting in barrels generally continues to improve with age, the balance is a little trickier with bourbon, which can run the risk of becoming over-oaked, as we have explored previously. It takes a watchful eye to discern how much aging is too much, and bourbon makers have certainly bottled great whiskeys at advanced ages; our Summer 2021 Buying Guide has four 15 year old bourbons that all scored 91 points or more. Look for a review of this whiskey in an upcoming issue of our Buying Guide.

Yellow Rose Harris County

Style: Straight bourbon

Origin: Texas

Age: Not stated

ABV: 46%

Price: $45

Release: July 2021

Availability: CA, CT, FL, IL, NJ, NY, TX

Need to know:

This is a high-rye bourbon that includes 25% Texas-grown rye—a grain not native to Texas—in addition to 100% Texas-grown corn and malted barley in its mashbill. Harris County is double pot distilled and aged for 30 months in the considerable Texas heat and humidity.

Whisky Advocate says:

Yellow Rose is one of a but a handful of whiskey distilleries located in the Houston area, and it's been hard at work since launching its first whiskey in 2012, coming out with a bourbon and a rye, as well as a slew of special releases. Even more so than the distillery's other releases, this latest whiskey aims to highlight its Texas roots.