I finished the Four Roses single barrel as well as the Old Grand Dad 114, so it’s time to open some fresh bottles. One was very easy to pick, and that was the Old Fitzgerald 12yo “Very Special”, the next, well you’ll see later I guess. Old Fitzgerald 12yo is a Wheated Bourbon made by Heaven Hill in Louisville Kentucky. If you happen to stumble upon a very old bottling of this, or even a “Very Very Old Fitzgerald”, you’ll have a distillate of the legendary Stitzel-Weller distillery, worth quite some money today. The Old Fitzgerald brand was created around 1889 by Charles Herbst maybe even as early as the 1870’s. Pappy van Winkle bought the brand during prohibition and changed the mashbill of the Original Old Fitzgerald by adding “a whisper of wheat”.
As you might know, the Bourbon mashbill must have at least 51% of corn, and usually Rye is used as a secondary grain with some malted barley. For Wheated Bourbon, the Rye is substituted by Wheat. Apart from these two, also Rye Whiskey (at least 51% Rye) and Wheat Whiskey (at least 51% Wheat) exist, and of course Whiskies with both Rye and Wheat.
Color: Orange brown.
Nose: Dry and dusty, cold soft ashes. Hints of glue. Dry leather, honey and soft almonds. Tiny hint of apple skin, dried out orange skin and some unripe banana. The wood itself is quite floral, like old lavender soap mixed with cocoa powder. Not a lot of spicy wood or toasted cask, even after 12 years. Quite a surprise considering the color of this Bourbon. The age dulls out the fruity notes it probably had when it was younger. Still the nose is built around a dry and dusty wood and leather notes.
Taste: Wood most definitely is the first aroma you taste. Dark cocoa powder, with soft sweetish cinnamon comes next with an elegant sweetness (corn), meaning not too much. The sweetness was toned down by the time this Bourbon spent in cask. The Whiskey goes down like a syrup, very slowly, taking its time, giving a little heat and good length in the finish. Some unbalanced acidity from the wood shows itself in the aftertaste, especially on the tongue, but it’s easy to deal with, even though it has some staying power. Even later in the aftertaste the more powdered creamy notes emerge, buttered popcorn and toffee.
It’s rumoured that Heaven Hill wants to stop making this, but that really would be a shame. It’s good stuff and definitely one you want to try if your favourite wheated Pappy Van Winkle is getting worse a bit, or becoming to expensive to enjoy properly. Also a nice one to try against some of the Weller’s that are around, which are also Wheated Bourbons.