Updated: Jun 24, 2020
Score: 9.4 / 10
Distillery: Heaven Hill
Type: Bonded Kentucky Wheated Bourbon
Christmas Eve 2019 I walk into my favorite liquor store and the owner greets me with a big smile and says he has something for me - it's a bottle of Old Fitzgerald 15 year. I was blown away and couldn't wait to try it.
At the same time my step sister had just passed away so my mom, step dad and other step sister were in town. The family was very torn up about it and it was a hard holiday season that year. I invited the family over to my house on Christmas day for a small potluck and my mom declined. I felt insulted by her response, but it was classic misdirection and later in the afternoon I heard a knock at the door - it was the family and they made a surprise visit. It was Christmas day so we needed something special to sip on - queue the Old Fitz 15. Now my mom is usually a wine drinker or will have one Beerita where my step dad drinks Rolling Rock or brandy for special occasions, but they accepted a pour of the Old Fitz.
We sat a while, enjoyed the whiskey and told old stories. In the end they both loved the pour and agreed it was exceptionally good (spoiler - I agree), but I finally sat down and wrote a review. There was a lot of sadness during that time, but I felt fortunate to spend time with my family who came in from out of state and I was also lucky to have a nice whiskey to share.
Nose: layers of robust smells including chocolate covered raisins, oak, peanut, snickerdoodle, crème brûlée
Palate: the first sip is burst of citrus zest that teams up with lemon rind and feels concentrated before expanding to the rest of my palate. Very oily and thoroughly coating – the second sip explodes with fruit flavors, watermelon, grape and plum. The fruit transforms into an astounding char that pairs with mellow cinnamon which warms the back of my mouth ultimately fading into dark chocolate and cacao. Swishing this whiskey ramps up the cinnamon immediately heating up the flavors and bringing out a bitter cold brew and orange rind flavor.
Finish: longer lingering, tannic and oaky. It dries the mouth out, but leaves subtle reminders of the previous sip throughout and gently numbs the mouth. The final note is toasted sugar with a hint of mint.
Score: 9.4 - wow this is an incredible whiskey. The only downside I can see is that it is a bottled in bond at 100 proof so if you like high proofers then this doesn't fit the bill. However it does a wonderful job balancing intense fruit flavors with mellow spice and layering dynamic flavors throughout the drinking experience. So much to discover on the nose, palate and finish
S+ Sensational - The Pinnacle (9.5+)
A - AXEceptional (astounding) (9-9.5)
B - bravo (step aBove average) (8-8.9)
C - competent (7-7.9)
D - disappointing (6-6.9)
F - flush it down the toilet (fail) (5.9 below)
Notes: Availability? Very Rare. This is likely a give-out whiskey any time you see it at a reasonable price. I wouldn't go hunting for any year expression of Old Fitzgerald. Instead get to REI and grab a zero degree camping bag for this winter.
Shot the pic with a Nikon D3400. Might be the best whiskey photo I have taken - used a low aperture so if you're curious the bottles in the background are Old Fitz 13 & 9.