Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Heaven Hill
Distillery: Heaven Hill
Release Date: May 2019
Age: 13 Years
Mashbill: 75% Corn, 20% Wheat, 5% Malted Barley
Color: Dark Bronze
MSRP: $130 (2019)
Produced in September 2005 and bottled in February 2019, this is the 3rd of 10 in Heaven Hill’s Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond series. These is a bi-annual release with the first arriving in the spring of 2018. Each season in the series denoted by different color labels, with the spring releases sporting a green colored label. Additionally, each bottle comes with a faux tax strip that discloses when the bourbon was produced and bottled.
To be labelled Bottled-in-Bond, the whiskey must be the product of one distillation season and one distiller at a single distillery, aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least four years, and it must be bottled at exactly 100 proof. Additionally, the Bottled-in-Bond label must clearly identify the distillery where it was distilled and where it was bottled, if different.
The nose opens with a warm mix of scents. Baked sweet bread, allspice, cinnamon bark, light custard, and a touch of seasoned oak come together in a harmonious way. It’s an enticing way to start and really invites you to explore the sip more.
A touch of heat and nice amount of sweetness form the base of this bourbon. Summer fruits, yellow cake, vanilla, and honey mingle with a base layer of light spice. The flavors come across as more impactful and the bourbon drinks a little hotter than you would expect from a 100 proof bourbon. The end result is a very satisfying sip that’s hard to dislike.
The extra time this bourbon spent in the barrel shows in the finish. Oak, white pepper, and sweet summer fruits are quite noticeable up front. These transition to vanilla, a lingering heat, and eventually just oak. Medium in length, while the finish is still good, comparatively it’s the weakest part of the overall sip.
As I mentioned in my Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 9 Year Fall 2018 review, Bottled-in-Bond bourbons, while not a dime a dozen, are quite plentiful nowadays. From an age perspective, the spring 2019 release isn’t the oldest to date either. That honor goes to the 14 year distillery only release that came out in the fall of 2018.
From a flavor perspective however, the spring 2019 release is a really great wheated bourbon. While it doesn’t quite match the level that the fall 2018 release delivered, it comes very close. For the most part its flavors are well balanced and defined, and its sip stands out from the other Bottled-in-Bond bourbons on the market.
The nice aspect about this Old Fitzgerald series, is that Heaven Hill seems to be pricing by the year in $10 increments. While that isn’t the norm with most limited release bottles, it seems to work well here. In this case, $130 for a 13 year Bottled-in-Bond seems like a fair value, especially one with such an impressive flavor profile. Sure you could say that about Weller 12 Year, but even if you were able to find a bottle at MSRP, Weller 12 Year comes in at 10 proof points lower and doesn’t carry the Bottled-in-Bond designation either. Add in the fact that 13 year old wheated bourbons aren’t at all common and its throwback decanter style bottle is a great talking piece, and you get a great overall value.
Heaven Hill’s Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond series is a good reminder that you don’t always need to be barrel proof to deliver a flavorful and impressive sip.
Once again Heaven Hill proves why they’re currently the king at producing Bottled-in-Bond bourbons. Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 13 Year Spring 2019 release is a worthy successor to the fantastic fall 2018 release. Unfortunately, it’s not quite as refined, thanks to its overly oaky finish. At the same time it is still an elegant sip overall, and delivers a ton of flavor in its nose and palate.
I envision the majority of those who get their hands on this bottle will really enjoy it. And make no mistake, if you do find yourself in possession of this release, make sure you do yourself a favor and crack the bottle open. As great as the bourbon looks in its throwback decanter, it will taste even better in your glass.