Let’s get right to it: The new Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond is even better than the last one, plain and simple. It’s rare there’s such a distinctive uptick in the quality of drinking experience from one batch to another of a limited edition small batch whiskey, so when you see that kind of move, you should take note—and buy.
There’s a lot to like with this product: shiny bottle, higher age statements, and a price under $100. But the best thing, in our opinion, about what parent company Heaven Hill is doing isn’t about the packaging, price or premium—it’s about the bonding.
For a long time in the world of American whiskey, Bottled-in-Bond was a mark of certified quality, proof that the barrels had been monitored for tampering by government oversight. There are a list of rules every barrel, every batch, and every bottle must comply with to receive the distinction, and when you pair that with the word “bourbon”, it takes a lot of effort to meet those requirements, even for the best and biggest distilleries.
Whether because people are catching on, or simply because it’s good, Bottled-in-Bond is getting something of a renaissance recently, spearheaded in small part by this premium release from Heaven Hill. Bottled-in-Bond whiskey only has to be 4 years of age, so to see these 9-11 year releases is encouraging that there’s more good stuff to come.
But that’s the trend. The question at hand: What about this particular release of Old Fitzgerald Fall 2018?
The 9-year-old liquid here is interesting stuff, smelling richly of wet barrel wood and caramel, and hints of burnt sugar. The finish isn’t incredibly long, but this hits all the classic flavor notes you’ll want along its journey, mingling wood and cinnamon and just the slightest wisp of smoke on the finish.
We weren’t wowed by the first release, which came in at 11 years. But this one is better, with a better defined personality. We’re seeing a steady upward trend with this series, and it started off from a high point from the start.
For $90, this is one of those bottles that you’ll want to keep an eye on. We realize everyone can’t buy every bottle, and the reality is that like the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof batches from Heaven Hill, this one could continue getting better and better over time. So if you miss out on the limited quantities of this one, there will be more. But for now, this is good stuff. Let’s hope next spring’s bottle is even better.