By Richard Thomas
The big Autumn American Whiskey season is now in full swing, with all the most anticipated annual, limited editions making their way to store shelves. Well, almost all: the news has dropped as I type this that George T. Stagg won’t be coming in 2021, the first time in recent memory that Buffalo Trace has failed to release any part of the Buffalo Trace Antique Collection.
To bring this back around to the subject of this review, maybe the absence of Stagg will prompt bottle hunters to give some of the other worthy expressions more attention this year. Although I think the Fall 2021 Old Fitzgerald Bonded isn’t one of the best of the series, it is up to standard and a mighty fine release. Furthermore, one won’t need to strain nearly as hard to pick up a bottle.
Old Fitzgerald is now a bonded series, but typically matured well above the minimum requirement of four years for a bonded whiskey. In this instance, the bourbon is 11 years old. Furthermore, it is drawn from Heaven Hill’s wheated bourbon stock. They frequently defy expectations of what a wheated bourbon is supposed to be, however, and the Old Fitz Fall 2021 is no exception. Like all bonded whiskeys, Old Fitz is 100 proof.
My pour of Old Fitzgerald Fall 2021 took on a bronzed, light amber coloring in my Glencairn. Rather than being floral, the scent is actually quite herbal, spicy and earthy, showing a good deal more maturity than its middle aged standing might have suggested. Seasoned with cinnamon, ginger and peppermint, with a sweet side like a ultra-dark, cocoa-rich chocolate bar with a thick caramel center balancing that. The flavor develops out that profile, adding a dry, woody current into the mix. It is only on the finish that any fruity, floral character comes out in the bourbon, but even that is pretty subdued next to its dry, earthy qualities.
As I wrote above, it’s not what one should have expected coming from a wheated, middle aged bourbon. That said, something different was going on with that batch made in the Spring of 2010, different and special. It might not be stereotypical, but Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond 2021 is a lovely pour all the same.
Expect to pay $110 a bottle for this bourbon.