17 Year Bourbon Unveiled As Old Fitzgerald Spring 2022 Decanter Release
The Spring 2022 release of Heaven Hill’s Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey has been announced, taking the form of a 17 year old bourbon.
This new offering, according to the Kentucky distillery, is comprised of barrels produced in fall of 2004. It was pulled from across three floors of rick house V at Heaven Hill Distillery’s main campus and bottled in spring of 2022. Noted as the ninth national release in this series, it also marks the first 17 year old in this line up.
As is typical with other modern Old Fitzgerald releases, this one comes bottled in an ornate decanter that denotes a green label that is consistent across previous spring expressions. In addition, this edition’s tax strip, which has always been a signature of transparency on bottled-in-bond products, will disclose when the liquid was produced and bottled.
The Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond spring edition will be available in the 750ml size on an allocated basis. It meets the strict requirements of a bottled-in-bond: the product of a single distillery from a single distilling season, aged a minimum of four years, and bottled at 100 proof or 50% alcohol by volume. The edition is available at a suggested retail price of $185.
Acquired in 1999 by Heaven Hill, the Old Fitzgerald line is well-known for what’s described as its distilling pedigree and intriguing story behind its namesake, John E. Fitzgerald.
Name: Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond Fall Edition
Age: 17 y.o.
Proof: 100 proof (50% abv)
Type: Bonded Kentucky straight bourbon
Mashbill: 68% corn, 20% wheat, 12% malted barley
Producer: Heaven Hill Distillery, Louisville, KY
Nose: The nose opens with thick dark caramels bordering on butterscotch, mixed with dried red and black fruit, faintly herbaceous baking spices, black pepper, leather, and dark charred oak. As you nose deeper dark chocolate notes continue to emerge alongside a touch of ethanol and tannic oak.
Palate: The palate opens thick with deep dark chocolate notes, near-burnt caramel, old herbaceous oak, bitter cocoa, big dried fruit notes, and tannic oak spice. As you keep chewing, notes of fire-roasted almond and more fruit notes also come through.
At 17 years old this is both delicious and it also gives you everything you’d expect from an older bourbon. At the centre of the profile lies old dusty oak notes which are surrounded by red fruit notes, wheat notes, herbaceous notes, earthy baking spices, dark chocolate notes, and dark caramel notes. These come together in the glass to deliver a complex and flavourful drinking experience that’s balanced in such a way that the oak never overwhelms the other flavours but bolsters them instead with maturity. There’s also a hefty spice kick from the oak tannins which builds on the palate as you drink and wouldn’t be unexpected from a bourbon of this age.
What surprised me most about this whiskey is its age statement and the fact that despite having matured for nearly 70 Kentucky seasons, that familiar Heaven Hill wheated bourbon character still comes through beautifully on the nose and palate. Ageing bourbon to this age is a skill in itself and the difference between a drinkable whiskey and one that’s bitter and over-oaked comes down to the knowledge and competence of your maturation team. Tasting this I will say they picked the best moment to pull these stocks because although the oak doesn’t overwhelm the profile yet, I’d argue that this bourbon has reached its peak and ageing it any longer may have resulted in the barrel completely overwhelming the tasting experience.
For my final tasting of this whiskey, I put it next to the 2021 Spring release which was 8 y.o. and delivered the best Old Fitzgerald I have tasted to date. At nearly half the age of this release, the 8y.o. has deep caramels, warm spice, and red fruits in all the right places giving a Heaven Hill wheated bourbon at its absolute prime and beating many of the older releases in blind comparisons due to its overall profile and lack of aggressive tannic spice. Compared to this, I found the 17y.o. to have much more maturity and depth to its overall profile with more viscosity on the palate, darker caramel notes, black fruit as opposed to red fruit, more tannic spice, and a lot more dark chocolate notes. This made it quite difficult to pick a favourite because I could definitely see myself gravitating to either depending on the mood I was in and both are exceptional bourbons for their own reasons.
Try or Buy?
With a suggested retail price of $185 this is, unfortunately, a try before you buy. If you’re a fan of the series or feeling flush all I’ll say is that for a 17-year-old bourbon it comes in at a great proof, does not disappoint, and may not come around at this age again!