Fee Bothers Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters Release # 9 (Vintage 2015)

  • Rating: 6
  • Value: 7
Ingredients: ,
Price: $15 for 5 OZ (150 ML)
Price Range:

Not as multi textured as some of the previous releases. Heavy on the cinnamon with little whiskey influence.

Notes: Fee Brothers has been in business since April 1, 1864 in Rochester, New York. They celebrated their 150th anniversary  a few years back and added major expansion to their Joseph Avenue Headquarters. Along with being one of the few continuous  manufacturers of bitters ( one of the few torchbearers of the industry and indeed one of the very last in the United States before the bitters explosion a few years back ) , 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.

Part of the almost demise of bitters in general was the sloppy research and omission of bitters in many ” modern” cocktail books ( a very dark period stretching in my opinion from say the mid 1960′ to the early 2000’s)  – many people said at the time “They said  don’t use bitters in drinks anymore so why mention them to a recipe?” which of course just added to the problem. If the  book didn’t mention bitters for at least martinis and manhattans didn’t buy it ! It means the person who wrote it had no idea what they are doing and are perpetuating mediocre books and ignorance. This has to some degree finally changed in some circles with the better books calling for bitters and there are even books written about bitters themselves these days. Bitters blend the other ingredients together, add many layers and depths of flavor, and may even help your digestion.

Appearance: Dark brown/reddish orange  color, clear and somewhat oily in appearance.

First Impression: Gobsmack of cinnamon followed by earthier notes, some bourbon influence but rather muted

Taste: Heavy cinnamon, followed by an eventual appearance of gentian and other drying notes, touch of angostura bark but minimal bourbon influence.

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, Release #2 (Late 2013)
Batch Eight (2014)  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. Note : Aged in Makers Mark bourbon barrels (32 in all) in a temperature controlled environment.

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. It is a Angustora type bitters, meaning it contains Angustora Bark, but it is different from Angostura Bitters ( a bitters named after a town not the bark) which is quite common in America as a branded product and whose signature taste involves a lot of cloves.

Bottle: Simple paper wrapped clear glass bottle, with a screwcap closure. It is distinguished from the other bottles by the bold viridian  graphics and color of the printing and a dark forest green  shrink-wrap around the top and neck.

Other: Other varieties of bitters include: Aztec Chocolate, Cherry, Celery, Cranberry, Grapefruit, Gin Barreled Aged Orange Bitters (2014 release) , Lemon, Mint, Old Fashioned Aromatic (Angostura),(West Indian) Orange, Peach, Plum, Rhubarb, Black Walnut , Molasses and the Whisky Barrel series : Whiskey Barrel Aged 1 (2007) , Whiskey Barrel Aged 2 (2008),Whiskey Barrel Aged 3 (2009), Whiskey Barrel Aged 4, (2010), Whiskey Barrel Aged 5 (2011) and Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters 8 (2014)


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