We did this Old Fitzgerald vertical tasting as an event at the SoCal Whiskey Club a little while back and like all of the tasting we do with the club it was a fun night filled with good whiskey, great people and stimulating boozy conversation. But you’re not here to read about that; you’re here to read about whiskey so let’s dive into a quick bit of history about Old Fitzgerald before getting into the tasting.
Old Fitzgerald was first made around 1870 as a premium product for travel and members-only style clubs. An exclusive brand that didn’t make its way to the public until the early 1900s and was made by John E. Fitzgerald. The general public then got to enjoy John’s whiskey all the way through prohibition as he had one of the few medicinal distilling licenses.
After prohibition Old Fitzgerald was bought by Pappy Van Winkle who changed the recipe, substituting wheat for rye as the secondary grain. It was produced at Stitzel-Weller until 1992 when Diageo sold the brand to Heaven Hill who still owns it today and is still a wheated recipe. Now, on to the Old Fitzgerald Vertical Tasting!
- Nose: Dark fruit, Spice, Caramel, brûlée, wood and a touch of astringency and vanilla.
- Palate: Spice, caramel, dark fruit, wood, red licorice and a sweetness that reminds me of root beer popsicles.
- Finish: Long -> Woody, caramel, spice and root beer popsicles.
- Overall: B+ (87-89) Sweet and rustic, I really liked it. This was a fantastic bourbon that I’d love to sip on again.
Very Special Old Fitzgerald 12 years: 45%
- Nose: Wood, caramel, citrus, vanilla, dusty grain and dark sweetness.
- Palate: Spice, wood, caramel, dark sweetness, citrus pop and some root beer popsicle spice.
- Finish: Short -> Watery, caramel, spice and weak vanilla.
- Overall: B (83-86) Starts out with a nice nose and then fades to a weak finish, but carries a nice sweet classic bourbon profile the whole time.
- Nose: Caramel, spice, cherry heavy dark fruit, citrus, wood and a light note of vanilla.
- Palate: Bolder than the nose but similar notes of dark sweets, dark fruit, wood and spice with a touch of vanilla and citrus.
- Finish: Medium -> Spice, caramel, wood and vanilla.
- Overall: B (87-89) This is a good whiskey. It has a warm character and enough wood to give it dimension. HH Juice.
Old Fitzgerald Bottled In Bond KY16: 50%
- Nose: Dark fruit, spice, wood, caramel, vanilla and a bit of dried strawberry.
- Palate: Caramel, spice (cinnamon & clove), vanilla, wood, dark fruit, leather and a bit of citrus peel.
- Finish: Long -> Caramel, wood, spice and mint
- Overall: B+ (87-89) Warm and rich it’s a tasty treat indeed. Would love to sip on this almost any day. SW Juice
- Nose: Dark fruit, wood, caramel, vanilla, toasted grain, dark sweets and a light bit of nuts.
- Palate: Dark fruit, spice (cinnamon and clove), wood, caramel and citrus peel.
- Finish: Long -> Dark fruit, wood, spice
- Overall: A- (90-92) Yum. There was a definite difference between this and all the others before it. It had a richness in character that easily stood out.
Very Very Old Fitzgerald 12 years: 50%
- Nose: Butterscotch, caramel, toffee, vanilla, wood, clove, dark fruit and cinnamon.
- Palate: Complex dark fruit, wood, spice, dark sweets, toasted grains, nuts and a light bit of vanilla.
- Finish: Long -> Dark fruit, wood, spice and dark sweets.
- Overall: A (93-96) Thick and heavy with bold dark fruit and rustic notes; this whiskey was the definition of complexity and balance. So. Damn. Good.
This Old Fitzgerald Vertical Tasting was among the most memorable we’ve done at the SCWC not just because of what we tasted, but because it was so well structured. To taste a whiskey like Old Fitzgerald across so many years and going from the Stitzel-Weller days to Heaven HIll gave an amazing look at the whiskey as it’s existed over the years. Smelling and tasting its evolution was an invaluable experience and I hope you enjoyed following along.
Till next time, cheers!