This is a bottle full of goodness all around; silken yet full bodied; lush in texture but busily spicy with fruit notes. If you can make rye whiskey candy, solidify this. It’s a delight to hold in your mouth and roll around as the honeyed texture gives way to tingly spice and slightly drying oak. I mentioned in my review of the 2020 Michter’s 10 year bourbon release that it was my favorite bottling of that product ever. I’ll declare the same about this 10-year rye. It’s brilliant, bright, inviting and wide-open delicious. It’s as good a Kentucky rye as I’ve ever enjoyed.
Michter’s has treated me to the past several releases of this 10-year bourbon, and all were good, well-mannered and delicious. Crucial to my preferences, each also paired amazingly well with food. But the 2020 release is something truly special, my favorite of the lot so far. Warm chocolate gives way to supple oak blending with corn sweetness and softness. Yet this is more robust than in releases past and reminds me of a straight-from-the-barrel glass fill I had at Michter’s Distillery two years ago with a press group. The mouthfeel is amazing: an adult candy bar in a glass; fully creamy and mouth coating. This is supremely delicious liquid deserving quiet contemplation or sharing with deserving whiskey buddies.
For 10 years Angel’s Envy has produced delicate, rounded and balanced bourbons finished in second-use casks—port, tawny port, sherry and rum (for its rye). Now we have a first-use mizunara oak barrel from Japan, which makes this bourbon markedly different from its predecessors.
This is a delightful and intriguing whisky. It never stops giving new aromas, which makes it a lot of fun just to nose. Few flavors in this Scotch jump out at you; there’s a bit of seek and find with it. It demands to be savored slowly and carefully, which was convenient amid the COVID-19 quarantine when WAY TOO FEW PEOPLE WERE AROUND TO INTERRUPT ME! It’s become haggard to see reviewers write, “This whiskey would be best enjoyed by a fire” when too few of us are ever around an actual wood fire. So I’ll speak to the truth of my tasting: This whisky is damn fine enjoyed on a hand-me-down couch with a computer in my lap.
If you like bourbon neat, this is for you. If you’re a Scotch drinker used to low-proof and wine-cask finishes, this is for you. If you like flavorful cocktails that aren’t in-your-face bold, this is a versatile whiskey that’ll do the job. Instead of stirring to dilute like you normally would to chill an old fashioned or Manhattan, place this in the fridge to maintain its fuller flavor.
This Old Fitzgerald 9 Year Old Bottled In Bond Bourbon is a glassful of goodness all around. If you’re fond of fruit-forward whiskeys, this is your jam—without being jammy. The mouthfeel is unusually fatty and weighty for a 100 proof wheated bourbon, and that’s a plus. For anyone who hoped I’d add water and report back, too bad. That ain’t happening. There is zero need to alter this whiskey. It’s perfect as is.
This is an all-around solid whiskey that won’t disappoint. But to violate an iron-clad rule of multi-sibling parenting, I’m saying its older brother, A119, this year’s first ECBP release, is better in every respect. A119 is headed for Harvard while B519 is good state school material. To strain the sibling metaphor further, the A119 is the charismatic kid, attractively assertive in every respect (perhaps helped some by its 135 proof), and its boldness presents as complexity rather than a brute punch in the face. Still, Elijah Craig fans will find the B519 completely likeable. Its EC DNA is as pure and recognizable as its sibling’s; it’s just packaged in a softer, gentler version.
At a dinner to meet Heaven Hill’s new master distiller, Colin O’Driscoll, my Bourbon & Banter colleague Matt Evans took one sniff and pronounced it a “chocolate bomb.” That was dead on. A friend at the same dinner asked, “Did you add water?” I answered, “Why? It’s soft at 135 proof!” Whiskey nerd that he is, I knew he meant “Did you act professionally and discover anything important by adding water like rational people do?” So I did, and it turned into honey: extraordinarily delicious, but I missed the oomph of the barrel strength. So, I advise no water be added.
I’m among the many saddened by the disappearance of the 4-year-old Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond during 2017. Like most BIBs, it was a terrific bargain, a great sipper and one of my favorite cocktailers for recipes with citrus (think Gold Rush).
But since businesses aren’t charities, they must improve products and profitability, so Heaven Hill smartly moved to make Old Fitz’ a more premium product and sell it at a super-premium price. Why not, when much older versions of it–from Stitzel-Weller days–now fetch thousands of dollars on the secondary market? There was brand equity to be built and reaped by putting longer-aged Fitz’ into eye-catching retro-Fitz’ decanters and boosting price by eight times its final 2017 cost.