Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 13 Year Bourbon Review Header

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond 13 Year Bourbon Review

In Bourbon Whiskey Reviews by Steve Coomes11 Comments


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This geezer among the current line is a terrific whiskey that demonstrates what careful aging can do to improve a product, especially wheated bourbons, which many believe age better than rye bourbons.
– Steve Coomes
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Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond 13-Year


  • DISTILLER: Heaven Hill Distillery
  • MASH BILL: 68% corn, 20% wheat, 12% malted Barley
  • AGE: 13 Years
  • YEAR: 2019
  • PROOF: 100 (50% ABV)
  • MSRP: $130

NOSEWarm peach pie, caramel | dried grain, vanilla, malted milk ball candy |lemon curd

TASTE: Medium body, caramel, raisin | graham cracker | toasted oak

FINISH: Long, luxurious and warm | honeyed (toddy-like) |lingering oak

SHARE WITH: Any whiskey lover.

WORTH THE PRICE: If the $130 MSRP doesn’t intimidate you, buy it. I’ve seen far costlier whiskies that can’t hold a candle to this.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Bottle, if you can justify the splurge.

OVERALL: This geezer among the current line is a terrific whiskey that demonstrates what careful aging can do to improve a product, especially wheated bourbons, which many believe age better than rye bourbons.

This 13-year-old release officially puts Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond in competition with wheated Weller and Van Winkle bourbons, some of the most prized American-made bottles. As one of the industry’s older BIBs, it also has that important distinction of being made in one distilling season only and never mingled with older or younger whiskeys. That ups the uniqueness ante for me.

Having tasted many Weller and Van Winkle releases on several occasions, I can say this Old Fitzgerald is a totally different animal that’s drawn a new line in the sand for wheated bourbons. My hope is the price of this or subsequent bottles won’t skyrocket in step with its competitors’, but that’s unlikely.

Learn more about Steve’s whiskey preferences and check out more of his reviews…

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.

With the first 9-year-old release in the spring of 2018, I wasn’t wowed, but I liked it well enough to look forward to the fall edition, which was noticeably better. But when I saw a 13-year-old was next up for spring of 2019, I was really intrigued.

HOW IT COMPARES TO ITS YOUNGER SIBLINGS: Having had bits of the 9-year and 11-year handy, I tasted them alongside this year’s 13-year release.

2018 Spring 11-year

NOSE: Minerality (think damp cave); fruit gel candy, oak, vanilla.

PALATE AND FINISH: Flavors are concentrated markedly: fruit, grain, toasted bread, graham cracker and lemon cream.

2018 Fall 9-year

NOSE: Big bouquet, floral, fruity, candy, lots of grain up front, mown hay field, lemon peel,

PALATE AND FINISH: Lean, light, oak, caramel, unassertive even for a 9-year old.

2019 Spring 13-year

NOSE: Oak leads, backed by banana and some baking spice; overall significantly subdued bouquet compared to younger siblings.

PALATE AND FINISH: Slightly oily, warmed butter, oak, baking spice, light caramel, vanilla; oak delivers drier finish than the other two but leaves delicious lingering notes of cinnamon, brown sugar. Overall balance balance and boldness makes this whiskey the best of the trio.


Disclaimer:Heaven Hill provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.


About the Author
Steve Coomes

Steve Coomes

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Steve Coomes is a Louisville restaurant industry veteran turned award-winning food writer. In his 27-year career, he has edited and written for dozens of national trade and consumer publications including Pizza Today, Nation's Restaurant News and Southern Living. As a spirits writer, Steve's byline can be found in Whisky magazine, Bourbon Review, WhiskeyWash.com and other publications. In 2014, he authored the book, "Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt & Smoke," and has authored other titles as a private ghostwriter.

Comments

  1. Avatar

    Your article kind of went off the rails at the end. You have completely confused the spring and fall releases. Spring was the 11, fall was the 9. You said the 11 was better, but said it was the second release. Personally, in a blind sample, I can’t tell the difference between the two. Looking forward to this release though.

  2. Avatar

    The new Bourbon Industry pattern, why sell good bourbon at a fair price when you can sell the same at inflated price. One of many good bourbons that will and have disappeared. All they are doing is angering the long time bourbon consumer..

  3. Avatar

    Chris, I think he had too many tastings before this article. I, as well, look forward to trying this release. Yes, this article should have been fact-checked and proofread, but we are all human and make mistakes.

    1. Avatar

      This also isn’t the oldest BIB. Parker’s Heritage 2016 fall release was a 24yr BIB.

  4. Avatar

    Did Heaven Hill discontinue their Heaven Hill 6 yo bonded, a very flavorful affordable and an everyday drinking bourbon to chase the
    big bucks with a $130 bottle ?

  5. Avatar

    I’ve been saving a bottle of Old Fitz prime 90 Proof for a special occasion. I’m now convinced that a special occasion has arrived, and it’s called Saturday.

  6. Avatar

    Steve,
    The side-by-side comparison at the end of the article is still messed up with respect to the 9 and 11 year releases. The headers are flip-flopped with the tasting notes (e.g. 11 year header has 9-year references in the tasting notes, and vice versa).

    This completely confuses the side-by-side comparison and make it worthless to the reading audience. Please correct it. Thanks

  7. Avatar

    This sentence still doesn’t make sense: “With the first 9-year-old release in the spring of 2018, I wasn’t wowed, but I liked it well enough to look forward to the fall edition, which was noticeably better.”
    The 9 came after the 11. Other reviewers seem to like the 9 over the 11, so I guess I’m still confused about which one Steve likes better?

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