One of the few Angostura bark containing bitters out there in the US market.
Notes: Fee Brothers has been in business since April 1,1864 in Rochester, New York. Along with being one of the few remaining manufacturers of bitters, they also are one of the largest bar mixes and supply firms in the U.S. and produce flavorings and syrups for coffee shops, restaurants, etc. It actually contains real angostura bark unlike Angostura Brand Bitters. Like the difference between a regular pastis and absinthe, the small addition of a original ingredient, can make a huge difference. Aged in Makers Mark bourbon barrels (32 in all) in a temperature controlled environment.
Appearance: Dark red cinnamon bark color with a concentration of color/haze which if you put it in the palm of your hand separates from the clear glycerin base.
First Impression: Cinnamon and traces of citrus , herbs and whiskey faintly in the background.
Taste: Delicious but a bit of a unnecessary (IMHO) cinnamon overload elicits memories of cinnamon candy. This batch does however seem to have a bit more bourbon influence and one notes of vanilla and char than some of the previous incarnations.
Tasting Roundup: Batch One (2007) is earthier with more angustora and bitter herbs with citrus on nosing, more bitter on tasting. Note: 2 Barrels – Jack Daniels. Batch Two (2008) is more subdued (and the most subdued of the six) with more clove and bark with ginger sweetness and zest . Batch Three (2009) has a lot more cinnamon and cassia notes, with a good deal of quinine-like notes for finish. Note: 4 barrels – Jack Daniels in a temperature controlled environment. Batch Four (2010) Very pronounced cinnamon, followed by ginger, gentian, angustora, cardamom, caraway, scents of bitter zest of bark and citrus oils (orange?) also and cloves, vague familiarity to Peychauds. Note: 8 barrels – Jack Daniels. Batch Five (2011) This batch is very cinnamon forward – more so than any previous release. Note: Woodford Reserve /Labrot Graham barrels (10 in all) in a temperature controlled environment. Batch Six (2012) Most cinnamon forward to date. More char and wood with less whiskey and vanillan components Note: Aged in Jim Beam barrels (14 in all) in a temperature controlled environment. Batch Seven (2013)
Drinks: This bitters can be used in the large number of drinks recipes calling for bitters (unless another type is specified) or for baking and cooking.
Bottle: Simple paper wrapped clear glass bottle, with a screw cap closure. It is distinguished from the other bottles by the simple black color of the printing with slightly darker brown accents at the shoulders in the script work, without the brown shading extending into the Fee Brothers logo (logo area has no shading). Also the new inscription “150th Annivesary” Above the Fee Brothers Logo and with drawings of upright barrels next the Fee Brothers logo with reverse printing or negative of the label. in previous editions the printing was black on wrapper, now it is reversed and the letters are outlined /surrounded by black ink. Logo is about 1/2 between size of 2007 and 2010 bottles, with darkest shading yet above logo and some shading below. Other differences to label are the words “cocktail flavoring” added below the word bitters, black band is slightly larger to accommodate this, and the barrel graphic are larger and actually touch the edges of the Fee Brothers logo. Further the addition of the ingredients of two dyes (red and yellow ) to the ingredients list which was only seen since 2011. Also the addition of a inscription at the very bottom of the label”A portion of the proceeds go to (pink graphic/logo of Speed Rack) for breast cancer research .(in pink lettering now) www.SpeedRack.com ” Black colored shrink wrap around the top and neck. Screw cap as opposed to flip top closure found on some of their other bitters. For a photo of some of the previous line up click here: Whiskey Aged Bottles Line Up
Other: Other varieties of bitters include: Aztec Chocolate, Cherry, Celery,Cranberry, Grapefruit, Lemon, Mint, Old Fashioned Aromatic (Angostura),(West Indian) Orange, Peach, Plum, Rhubarb, Black Walnut , and the others of the Whisky Barrel series : Whiskey Barrel Aged 1 (2007) , Whiskey Barrel Aged 2 (2008), Whiskey Barrel Aged 3 (2009),Whiskey Barrel Aged 4, (2010) and Whiskey Barrel Aged Batch 5
Final Thoughts: The price keeps going up for this particular bitter each year affecting the value price ratio. While it is a interesting and worthwhile bitters I think the cinnamon is a bit overdone in the last few years overshadowing the whiskey influence more than it should. But still an excellent bitters overall and from the family that kept bitters alive and a spark of light during the dark ages of cocktail history.