The Details

Rating 98
Style
American Whiskey
Whiskey
Produced In Kentucky
United States
ABV 50%
Availability Limited
Price $229.99 
Reviewed By
Review Updated 2024-05-01

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition Review

In November 1996, a fire destroyed Heaven Hill’s Bardstown, Ky. distillery, along with a number of warehouses and offices. For the next few years, the company relied on contract distillation from nearby producers. And in 1999, Heaven Hill acquired the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, where the brand’s production still centers today. That year also marked Heaven Hill’s acquisition of the Old Fitzgerald brand.

(As of 2024, Heaven Hill is currently constructing another distillery in a return to Bardstown.)

To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Bernheim acquisition, Heaven Hill has released a new Old Fitzgerald bottling, the first VVS (“very very special”) release since 2020. Like other “Old Fitz” decanter bottlings, it’s a bottled-in-bond, wheated bourbon using a 68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, and 12 percent malted barley mash bill.

What pushes the release into “very very special” territory is the pedigree of its source barrels. They were laid down in 1999 and dumped in March 2013. According to Heaven Hill, once the barrels were emptied, “the distillery team taste-tested the distillate, and decided that due to its outstanding profile, it should be reserved for a momentous occasion.”

A 25 year anniversary seems plenty special. Let’s dive in and see how this commemorative, 13 year bourbon tastes.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition review.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition: Stats and Availability

Old Fitzgerald’s Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition is a limited, Kentucky-only release. Select Kentucky retailers received bottles, and the public could also purchase them at the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience in Bardstown. (That supply of bottles quickly sold out.) The MSRP was $229.99. The secondary market is already charging a premium for this release, and I’ve seen prices well north of $500. Heaven Hill didn’t release any specifics on bottle count for the VVS series, but suffice it to say, demand seems to have oustriped supply.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition Review

As with all of VinePair’s whiskey reviews, this was tasted in a Glencairn glass and rested for at least five minutes.

Nose

We’ve got a heavy hitter right out of the gate. The nose bursts with spice (cinnamon especially), earthiness, chocolate, fruit preserves, and freshly baked sweet pastries. It’s like walking into a bakery right before it opens to the public: some confections are fresh out of the oven, some are still baking, and others are still proofing, tucked away in dark corners. Of particular note is an element of chocolate-swirled rugelach, with elements of semi-sweet cocoa and flaky dough.

Blackcurrant and dark berry jam further bolster the fruity elements and bring welcome tartness.

Up next is oak: rich, dark, bringing with scents of mild dried cigar and dusty book bindings.

Underpinning that cornucopia of scents is an intriguing earthiness, akin to the “dusty funk” many bourbon fans seek in releases from a bygone era. Some would describe it as fungal (and indeed, it’s reminiscent of some mushrooms). For me, it falls about halfway between tannic vegetal and tannic sweet, as if both components are ensconced in a leathery binding.

I had fairly high expectations for this VVS release. But this depth and richness on the nose exceeds what I normally experience from modern bourbon releases.

Taste

Powerful — but not overpowering — oak fills the mouth on a first sip. It’s true to the barrel, and the flavor triggers a small flashback. Suddenly, I’m in a 100-year-old rickhouse, surrounded by 20,000 aging barrels, the smell of wood commingled with their combined angel’s share of evaporated bourbon. Once the oak dies back ever so slightly (and I come to in the present), honey and maple syrup candy linger at the front and middle of the palate.

Spice and fruit take their time to develop toward the midpalate. This isn’t the pop of baking-spice-meets-wintergreen that some high-rye mash bills deliver. Instead, wheat is in the driver’s seat, with gentler, warmer, darker spices including finely ground cinnamon and white pepper. Maraschino cherry and cherry cough drops build with each sip. Flavor builds with a mouthfeel more viscous than most other 100 proof spirits on the market.

Fruit on the palate is more syrupy than the nose implies, and my one (tiny) critique so far is the relative lack of tartness to help balance those sweet flavors. The oaky tannins, however, do plenty to keep things tempered.

Finish

Cherry continues and leads the long finish. Leather and tobacco give way to milder wood-forward flavors, with hints of vanilla and spiced caramel. It’s not so much an abrupt shift in flavor as a decrescendo from the very, very special palate.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition Rating

98/100

Recap

The 2024 Old Fitzgerald is likely the best I’ve sampled from the current incarnation of the brand’s decanter line. After two lengthy tasting sessions, I’m confident with its uncommonly high 98 point rating; there were points where I was tempted to score it even higher. At 13 years old, it stacks up against virtually any bourbon on today’s market while standing a head above most. The few flaws are almost fun to pick out, like finally finding the needle in the rickhouse.

98
POINTS
Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition
In November 1996, a fire destroyed Heaven Hill’s Bardstown, Ky. distillery, along with a number of warehouses and offices. For the next few years, the company relied on contract distillation from nearby producers. And in 1999, Heaven Hill acquired the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, where the brand’s production still centers today. That year also marked Heaven Hill’s acquisition of the Old Fitzgerald brand. (As of 2024, Heaven Hill is currently constructing another distillery in a return to Bardstown.) To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Bernheim acquisition, Heaven Hill has released a new Old Fitzgerald bottling, the first VVS (“very very special”) release since 2020. Like other “Old Fitz” decanter bottlings, it’s a bottled-in-bond, wheated bourbon using a 68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, and 12 percent malted barley mash bill. What pushes the release into “very very special” territory is the pedigree of its source barrels. They were laid down in 1999 and dumped in March 2013. According to Heaven Hill, once the barrels were emptied, “the distillery team taste-tested the distillate, and decided that due to its outstanding profile, it should be reserved for a momentous occasion.” A 25 year anniversary seems plenty special. Let’s dive in and see how this commemorative, 13 year bourbon tastes. Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition review.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition: Stats and Availability

Old Fitzgerald’s Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition is a limited, Kentucky-only release. Select Kentucky retailers received bottles, and the public could also purchase them at the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience in Bardstown. (That supply of bottles quickly sold out.) The MSRP was $229.99. The secondary market is already charging a premium for this release, and I’ve seen prices well north of $500. Heaven Hill didn’t release any specifics on bottle count for the VVS series, but suffice it to say, demand seems to have oustriped supply.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition Review

As with all of VinePair’s whiskey reviews, this was tasted in a Glencairn glass and rested for at least five minutes.

Nose

We’ve got a heavy hitter right out of the gate. The nose bursts with spice (cinnamon especially), earthiness, chocolate, fruit preserves, and freshly baked sweet pastries. It’s like walking into a bakery right before it opens to the public: some confections are fresh out of the oven, some are still baking, and others are still proofing, tucked away in dark corners. Of particular note is an element of chocolate-swirled rugelach, with elements of semi-sweet cocoa and flaky dough. Blackcurrant and dark berry jam further bolster the fruity elements and bring welcome tartness. Up next is oak: rich, dark, bringing with scents of mild dried cigar and dusty book bindings. Underpinning that cornucopia of scents is an intriguing earthiness, akin to the “dusty funk” many bourbon fans seek in releases from a bygone era. Some would describe it as fungal (and indeed, it’s reminiscent of some mushrooms). For me, it falls about halfway between tannic vegetal and tannic sweet, as if both components are ensconced in a leathery binding. I had fairly high expectations for this VVS release. But this depth and richness on the nose exceeds what I normally experience from modern bourbon releases.

Taste

Powerful — but not overpowering — oak fills the mouth on a first sip. It’s true to the barrel, and the flavor triggers a small flashback. Suddenly, I’m in a 100-year-old rickhouse, surrounded by 20,000 aging barrels, the smell of wood commingled with their combined angel’s share of evaporated bourbon. Once the oak dies back ever so slightly (and I come to in the present), honey and maple syrup candy linger at the front and middle of the palate. Spice and fruit take their time to develop toward the midpalate. This isn’t the pop of baking-spice-meets-wintergreen that some high-rye mash bills deliver. Instead, wheat is in the driver’s seat, with gentler, warmer, darker spices including finely ground cinnamon and white pepper. Maraschino cherry and cherry cough drops build with each sip. Flavor builds with a mouthfeel more viscous than most other 100 proof spirits on the market. Fruit on the palate is more syrupy than the nose implies, and my one (tiny) critique so far is the relative lack of tartness to help balance those sweet flavors. The oaky tannins, however, do plenty to keep things tempered.

Finish

Cherry continues and leads the long finish. Leather and tobacco give way to milder wood-forward flavors, with hints of vanilla and spiced caramel. It’s not so much an abrupt shift in flavor as a decrescendo from the very, very special palate.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition Rating

98/100

Recap

The 2024 Old Fitzgerald is likely the best I’ve sampled from the current incarnation of the brand’s decanter line. After two lengthy tasting sessions, I’m confident with its uncommonly high 98 point rating; there were points where I was tempted to score it even higher. At 13 years old, it stacks up against virtually any bourbon on today’s market while standing a head above most. The few flaws are almost fun to pick out, like finally finding the needle in the rickhouse.

Reviewed On: 05-02-2024
98
POINTS
Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition
In November 1996, a fire destroyed Heaven Hill’s Bardstown, Ky. distillery, along with a number of warehouses and offices. For the next few years, the company relied on contract distillation from nearby producers. And in 1999, Heaven Hill acquired the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, where the brand’s production still centers today. That year also marked Heaven Hill’s acquisition of the Old Fitzgerald brand. (As of 2024, Heaven Hill is currently constructing another distillery in a return to Bardstown.) To commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Bernheim acquisition, Heaven Hill has released a new Old Fitzgerald bottling, the first VVS (“very very special”) release since 2020. Like other “Old Fitz” decanter bottlings, it’s a bottled-in-bond, wheated bourbon using a 68 percent corn, 20 percent wheat, and 12 percent malted barley mash bill. What pushes the release into “very very special” territory is the pedigree of its source barrels. They were laid down in 1999 and dumped in March 2013. According to Heaven Hill, once the barrels were emptied, “the distillery team taste-tested the distillate, and decided that due to its outstanding profile, it should be reserved for a momentous occasion.” A 25 year anniversary seems plenty special. Let’s dive in and see how this commemorative, 13 year bourbon tastes. Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition review.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition: Stats and Availability

Old Fitzgerald’s Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition is a limited, Kentucky-only release. Select Kentucky retailers received bottles, and the public could also purchase them at the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience in Bardstown. (That supply of bottles quickly sold out.) The MSRP was $229.99. The secondary market is already charging a premium for this release, and I’ve seen prices well north of $500. Heaven Hill didn’t release any specifics on bottle count for the VVS series, but suffice it to say, demand seems to have oustriped supply.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition Review

As with all of VinePair’s whiskey reviews, this was tasted in a Glencairn glass and rested for at least five minutes.

Nose

We’ve got a heavy hitter right out of the gate. The nose bursts with spice (cinnamon especially), earthiness, chocolate, fruit preserves, and freshly baked sweet pastries. It’s like walking into a bakery right before it opens to the public: some confections are fresh out of the oven, some are still baking, and others are still proofing, tucked away in dark corners. Of particular note is an element of chocolate-swirled rugelach, with elements of semi-sweet cocoa and flaky dough. Blackcurrant and dark berry jam further bolster the fruity elements and bring welcome tartness. Up next is oak: rich, dark, bringing with scents of mild dried cigar and dusty book bindings. Underpinning that cornucopia of scents is an intriguing earthiness, akin to the “dusty funk” many bourbon fans seek in releases from a bygone era. Some would describe it as fungal (and indeed, it’s reminiscent of some mushrooms). For me, it falls about halfway between tannic vegetal and tannic sweet, as if both components are ensconced in a leathery binding. I had fairly high expectations for this VVS release. But this depth and richness on the nose exceeds what I normally experience from modern bourbon releases.

Taste

Powerful — but not overpowering — oak fills the mouth on a first sip. It’s true to the barrel, and the flavor triggers a small flashback. Suddenly, I’m in a 100-year-old rickhouse, surrounded by 20,000 aging barrels, the smell of wood commingled with their combined angel’s share of evaporated bourbon. Once the oak dies back ever so slightly (and I come to in the present), honey and maple syrup candy linger at the front and middle of the palate. Spice and fruit take their time to develop toward the midpalate. This isn’t the pop of baking-spice-meets-wintergreen that some high-rye mash bills deliver. Instead, wheat is in the driver’s seat, with gentler, warmer, darker spices including finely ground cinnamon and white pepper. Maraschino cherry and cherry cough drops build with each sip. Flavor builds with a mouthfeel more viscous than most other 100 proof spirits on the market. Fruit on the palate is more syrupy than the nose implies, and my one (tiny) critique so far is the relative lack of tartness to help balance those sweet flavors. The oaky tannins, however, do plenty to keep things tempered.

Finish

Cherry continues and leads the long finish. Leather and tobacco give way to milder wood-forward flavors, with hints of vanilla and spiced caramel. It’s not so much an abrupt shift in flavor as a decrescendo from the very, very special palate.

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 25th Anniversary Edition Rating

98/100

Recap

The 2024 Old Fitzgerald is likely the best I’ve sampled from the current incarnation of the brand’s decanter line. After two lengthy tasting sessions, I’m confident with its uncommonly high 98 point rating; there were points where I was tempted to score it even higher. At 13 years old, it stacks up against virtually any bourbon on today’s market while standing a head above most. The few flaws are almost fun to pick out, like finally finding the needle in the rickhouse.

Reviewed On: 05-02-2024