: Buttery | Tobacco | Apricot | Oak
Watered Down Vanilla & Caramel | Buttery Oak | Black Pepper
A moderately long finish that is dry, spicy and oak forward. Despite the oak forwardness of the finish it never turns bitter - just hot and dry. All of the magic appears to be in the nose on this whiskey.
Share this one with fellow bourbon geeks who are curious about this release and how it compares to other wheaters.
WORTH THE PRICE
: Afraid not. I would put this one solidly in the $30 bracket.
BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST:
Don’t let the marketing and decanter fool you folks. This is a try it before you buy it whiskey.
Let me start by saying that if tasting blind, this would be a perfectly drinkable whiskey. I wouldn’t spit it out and pawn it off on someone else. I would drink it. Moreover, if you poured me another glass, I would drink that as well. However, the reality is that I didn’t drink it blindly. I drank it knowing quite well that it retailed for $110 and came in a fancy decanter. So thus, my expectations were set high - as they should be based on the packaging and pricing.
The nose is fantastic and really got me excited about the bottle's potential. It was buttery with lovely notes of tobacco and apricot slathered on a substantial slice of oak. I anticipated a thick, oily mouthfeel with heavy flavors but was disappointed to be greeted by a thin, watered-down combination of vanilla, caramel, and spicy black pepper. Sure, there was some buttery oak, but it didn’t lend enough oomph to the experience. While the finish had some length, it wasn’t very flavorful or memorable. It sure didn’t taste or finish like an 11-year old bourbon.
For $110 a bourbon needs to be memorable. It needs to be far better than anything I can get for less than $80 and needs to be superior to previous expressions within the same brand label family. Sadly, this one missed the mark.
This release is a prime example of a distillery jumping the shark and doing itself more harm than good. Heaven Hill is one of the most respected bourbon distilleries in the market and legions of fans - myself included - love their products. However, they missed the mark on this one. It’s a solid bourbon by most measures but dressing it up in fancy decanter does not make it worth $110. Save your money and stock up on Larceny, Elijah Craig or Evans Williams.
Learn more about Pop's whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews...
STEEPED IN HISTORY, OLD FITZGERALD RETURNS
For nearly every legendary Bourbon there’s a backstory, and few bottles bear as much legend, lore and flavor as Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. As our Spring 2018 release of this historic brand will prove, the story of "Old Fitz" contains more tales, truth and taste than ever.
The first release of the aromatic and easy-sipping 100-proof Bourbon will be 11 years old and bottled in an ornate glass decanter. Released each spring and fall, every Old Fitzgerald edition will consist of about 100 barrels.
AND SO THE STORY GOES
The story goes that in 1870, John E. Fitzgerald whiskey was a product named after a distiller working at Old Judge Distillery on Benson Creek, outside of Frankfort, Kentucky. Legend has it that he sold his product exclusively to private clubs, rail and steamship lines before renaming and trademarking it Old Fitzgerald in 1884. Official records show that in 1901, Solomon Charles "S.C." Herbst, a spirits distiller and distributor with businesses in Kentucky and Wisconsin, registered the Fitzgerald brand. So successful was Herbst that he constructed a new bottling plant for the Bourbon in 1904. Two years later, legend claims he bought the Old Judge Distillery to continue making the product in copper pot stills.
Fast forward 18 years to find Old Judge Distillery shut down due to Prohibition. Believing the Volstead Act would be repealed, W.L. Weller, a whiskey marketing and distribution firm in Louisville, Kentucky, made the second of a pair of $2,000 payments to Herbst for the rights to the Old Fitzgerald name in 1925. Eight years later, when Prohibition ended, A. Ph. Stitzel Distillery—one of four distilleries permitted to make medicinal whiskey during that onerous dry spell—merged with Weller to form the Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Under new ownership, some bottles of Old Fitzgerald were crudely relabeled by crossing out S.C. Herbst’s name and adding W.L. Weller and Sons’.
BACK IN THE BOURBON GAME
Energized by Prohibition’s repeal, Stitzel-Weller constructed a massive distillery in Shively, Kentucky, where it began making Old Fitzgerald in 1935. Knowing well the quality of Old Fitzgerald, a clever Weller marketer named Julian P. Van Winkle, leaned heavily on its backstory to sell it. Later known as "Pappy," Julian P. Van Winkle helped position Old Fitzgerald as a premium Bourbon known for exceptional softness created by using wheat in its grain mashbill. In 1951, the whiskey’s packaging was revised to match that high expectation. That year, the whiskey was packaged in an elegant, heavy glass "diamond decanter," the first of what would become multiple artistic decanters released over the next two decades (and the inspiration for the Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Series decanter.) The whiskey would also experience several line extensions under the names Very Old Fitzgerald, Very Very Old Fitzgerald, and Old Fitzgerald Prime, the brand’s first non-Bottled-in-Bond release.
* The term Bottled-in-Bond is a purity and honesty declaration made by American whiskey distillers who distill and bottle a particular whiskey in one distilling season, at one distillery, and age it in a government "bonded" or supervised warehouse for no less than four years. Passed in 1897, the Bottled-In-Bond Act was a move by distillers to distinguish their products from adulterated spirits sold by rectifiers as Bourbon.
A NEW HOME & NEW STORIES
Years later after several changes in ownership, Heaven Hill bought the Old Fitzgerald brand in 1999 and began distilling it at its Bernheim Distillery in Louisville. And just in time, too, as the American whiskey rebirth was just beginning.
Also in that same year, the publishing of Sally Van Winkle Campbell’s "But Always Fine Bourbon: Pappy Van Winkle and the Story of Old Fitzgerald" set the record straight. According to Van Winkle Campbell, Pappy’s granddaughter, Fitzgerald wasn’t a distiller at all. He was a U.S. Treasury Agent "gauger" charged with inspecting distilleries’ inventories to properly levy taxes. According to Campbell’s book, such a good inspector was ol’ Fitz that the many barrels subjected to his examinations were so noticeably lightened that bottling workers dubbed them "Fitzgerald barrels." Where such thefts took place remains foggy, though some accounts point to S.C. Herbst’s bottling operations in Milwaukee.
Regardless of the facts, the story remains one of the most beloved Bourbon industry legends, which led to the launch of Larceny Bourbon in 2012. Also using wheat in its mashbill, Larceny is a small batch Bourbon whose package utilizes a skeleton key as its symbolic logo element. The key supports the brand story of Fitzgerald’s misuse of his warehouse privileges and pays homage to the iconic key logo and tagline of Old Fitzgerald packaging that declares, "Your Key to Hospitality."
A BOLD AND FLAVORFUL RELAUNCH
The Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Series will be available in the 750ml decanter each spring and fall throughout the next five years. Each bottle will prominently feature the pre-Prohibition diagonal brand name, 1940’s era brand slogan declaring, "Your key to hospitality," the seal of the Commonwealth of Kentucky, and a tax strip across the stopper disclosing when the liquid was produced and bottled. Spring editions will be denoted with a green label; fall editions with a black label. The ages of whiskey in each release will vary and be indicated at the bottom of the label. Prices for each release also will vary.
"For 82 years Heaven Hill Distillery has nurtured and produced historic brands of quality and heritage," said Heaven Hill Distillery Master Distiller Denny Potter, adding that the new release is non-chill filtered. "It is an honor to join a famous line of distillers behind the Old Fitzgerald name and to continue to uphold the tradition of the brand through its bottled-in-bond designation, which dates to the early 1900s."
3 bottles of Henry Mckenna single barrel bib can be purchased for that price.I agree with you.I love Heaven Hill products too but,shame on them for this limited release:(
Very very old Fitzgerald was 12 years old & $40. $110 is way more than I’m willing to pay. Hope they don’t sell & sit on the shelf. Shame on you Heaven Hill!
I wonder if there’s any chance it gets better once it’s opened for a while.
& it still wouldn’t be worth the $110 price tag.I can buy 2 bottles of KC single barrel 120proof.
Maybe if we thought of it as $30 for the booze and $80 for some of the nicest packaging I’ve seen in a long time, we’d feel better. It is a pretty bottle, but I buy bourbon to drink it …which reinforces why its great to have these reviews! Thanks
I have the 9 year old and have tried the 11, this is a poor poor review as most others and myself actually really enjoy this juice is it as good as William Larue Weller no but it’s far and away better than ecbp or larceny
Matt, I appreciate you sharing your thoughts and for sharing that you think this is a “poor review” because you didn’t agree with it. It’s people like you that make the online world a better place. After all, there’s absolutely no room for different opinions and tastes when it comes to life and death whiskey reviews. Thanks for reminding us all of that.