Old Fitzgerald 12 Years Old
Bourbon American Whiskey
45% ABV, £40 for 70cl
What they say:
Old Fitzgerald is a brand of sour mash bourbon currently distilled in Louisville, Kentucky by Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. Beginning in 1870, Old Fitzgerald was first produced for rail and steamship lines and private clubs primarily located in the south by John E. Fitzgerald in Frankfort, Kentucky. Around 1900, “Old Fitz” was released to the American public and in Europe as well. It was one of the few distilled using the pot still method, and continued to do so until around 1913. During Prohibition, Old Fitzgerald was one of a select few to distill under government supervision for the national medicinal trade, it was soon after acquired by Pappy Van Winkle for $10,000 who then introduced the “Whisper of Wheat” to the original recipe. By substituting wheat for the more traditional rye in the grain recipe, Old Fitzgerald is finished with a rounder, softer profile compared to other bourbons. It was produced by the Stitzel-Weller Distillery until, after some changes of ownership, the brand was sold around 1992 by Diageo to Heaven Hill, which currently produces and markets it.
What I say:
Pulled as a charity sample following one of the Jolly Toper tastings, I was happy to receive this as I have been trying to get back on track with our virtual world tour of whisky. Also my knowledge of bourbon and American whiskey in general was poor, which I am currently trying to rectify with Clay Risen’s book: American Whiskey, Bourbon & Rye – which I am enjoying immensely!
Dark copper gold
Toffee, caramel, vanilla, coconut, sweet golden syrup, oat flapjacks, cereal wheat and rye, cinnamon, cigar boxes, tobacco, sweetcorn and ripe banana
Lighter in mouthfeel than the nose suggests this has caramel, treacle (thinned), fudge, toffee, orange and orange zest, waxy, beeswax, polished wood, coffee and crème caramel dessert
Long, toffee, vanilla and polished oak wood
Incredibly rich, I found this packed full of flavours and aromas that I had never before found in Bourbon. Partly this may be due to the age of this expression as comparatively most Bourbons are bottled ‘straight’ at ~ 2 years with an age statement, or without at over 4 years. Maturation of American whiskey occours over more enhanced seasonality than Scotch, often experiencing much hotter summers and much colder winters. This draws the whiskey in and out of the wood of the cask much more, therefore ‘accelerating’ maturation. Old Fitzgerald at 12 Years old presents with a superb richness and fullness of flavours, far from my previous experience with much younger bourbons!