Old Fitzgerald 15 Year Old is a nice whiskey, but I think it is a bit pricey for what it is.It lacks the complexity I would look for in that age and price range personally speaking.
Notes: Old Fitzgerald is an older brand by bourbon standards, especially as a brand that has never changed hands to another house. Old Fitzgerald has always been a Heaven Hill product and Heaven Hill itself dates back to 1932 – and in some iterations much farther but not so old compared to some distilleries but an older brand/label that has survived the test of time and stayed with the same house and never traded hands.
Appearance: Clear dark amber heading towards a red from a younger bourbon gold shift that speaks of a more mature whiskey. A very thin light coating on the glass which then starts to fold down on itself with very few drops forming, then droplets staying behind.
First Impression: Deep woody notes, barrel char, dried cherries, Erinmore flake tobacco, persimmons, mint, caramel, toffee, maple nutmeg.
Taste: Wood, char, and caramel with an interesting dry wood and sweetness mixed in together with a slightly minty and drying finish with a medium-long finish that whispers to you. My only real complaint is that the deep fruit and body notes of an older bourbon are not there in the quantity/proportion that I would expect for both the age and price. A bit light and simpler in other words than I would expect. But given the current crop of bourbons being put out there, it ranks fairly well. I guess I might call this one of those newer, lighter versions of bourbon that is crowding the market of late. Some of these new-style bourbons and their flavor profiles seem to be driven by the craft spirit movement and the increasing proliferation of newer whiskeys and their profiles. A parallel to this might be the rise of California Reds compared to the profiles of the old-growth Bordeaux Reds, what is popular becomes the new standards and the nostalgia for the classics get dismissed as at best old fashioned and quaint, and at worst as the grumblings of old men (and women).
Drinks: It is nice on its own in a tasting glass. At $150 a pop and given that it is not overly complicated I would hesitate to mix it as it is a waste of money and whiskey. It would not lend enough characteristics to stand out in a drink as I would like for the money over a less expensive whiskey.
Bottle: Can’t comment as I did not receive a production bottle.
Other: Bottled in Bond is a much more specific and added qualification, inferring an even older and more quality whiskey. Instituted in 1897, the bottled in bond act very specifically spelled out the requirements of a whiskey to be labeled as such. It was in response to a lot of questionable whiskies and other spirits made from a horrifying list of possible ingredients in attempts to pass it off on the public. Anyone who reads an old rectifier manual on how to make seemingly old whiskey will cringe at what they used to do. The bottled in bond act was one of the first pure food and drug act laws that were starting to be passed at that time- Maraschino Cherries were another shocking example that was front and center of congressional hearings but I digress as usual…
The short form is made in the same season (no multi-year blends), at the same distillery and aged for 4 years in a federally bonded warehouse and bottled at no less than 100 proof. All good things IMHO.
Heaven Hill is a distillery with a relatively long history with quite a few bourbons in its portfolio, a number of them dating back to the beginning of the company, but a number of exciting new bourbons and special editions of their older lines are generating a lot of interest (and new respect) in the bourbon community. Some of the most notable of the new series are the limited editions of the Parker Heritage Series (reviews of Number 7, Number 8, and Number 9 ) the new Larceny Bourbon (an extension/expression from the Old Fitzgerald line), and The Bernheim Wheat Whisky
One of their newer releases is the Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond 7 Year Old which was Spirits of the month for January 2020
Their other bourbons include of course the Heaven Hill series/marks which include the white, green, and black labels, the Elijah Craig 12 ( IMHO one of the perennial best buys in a bourbon) and the Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old. Some other lines of bourbons they produce are the Evan Williams line and the Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage series they have released every year ( 2000 Vintage, 2003 Vintage , 2004 Vintage and the New Make Series of unaged distillate (Rye and Corn), This the 27-year-old of the Heaven Hill which follows on from the previous releases of a 20-Year-Old, 21 Year Old Version and the 23 Year Old Elijah Craig Series. This is one of their high rye barrels from some of their best warehouses and from the middle of the warehouse ( guess you could call it the sweet spot) which allows the whiskey to reach this level of extended aging without collapsing into tasting like a bunch of tired charcoal briquets. Almost no bourbon can or has been aged this long and taste this good. Most get tired, over the hill and get too much oak and charcoal past say 20 years, this is a remarkable achievement in not only whiskey-making that they could make such a product but also about the careful husbandry and curation of these barrels to get this whiskey to this age and beauty.
Heaven Hill had a catastrophic fire back in 1996 that destroyed the original distillery and a lot of its stocks of whiskey. If you search around the internet you might find footage of the fire. It looked like a cross between the “The Towering Inferno ” and “Apocalypse Now” With rivers of fire pouring off the hill above the distillery and essentially melting it. If you go down the hill from the new distillery remnants might still be there. I saw it and it looked like someone had taken a blowtorch to a wax model of a distillery.
Final Thoughts: While a decent to good whiskey it is a bit of a disappointment for the money involved. But on the other hand with the whiskey frenzy in general and the bourbon frenzy in particular, I am sure this will disappear like spit on a griddle
Website: HeavenHilldistillery.com This is a direct link to the Old Fitzgerald pages. If you back up you can see all their brands – which are quite a few !
Both this link and the other pages have a plethora of information and photos. Well laid out and fast loading, Heaven Hill has one of the easier to navigate and visually pleasing websites in the industry.