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Review: Old Fitzgerald 12 year Bourbon

Old Fitzgerald Bourbon first hit the market in the late 1800s, and was eventually produced by the much lauded Stitzel-Weller distillery in Shively, KY. Yes, the same distillery that once made bourbon under the Weller and Old Rip Van Winkle labels among others.

Diageo purchased the Stitzel-Weller Distillery in 1992, thus taking over the Old Fitzgerald brand. In the last 1990′s the brand was sold to Heaven Hill along with the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville, KY which produces Old Fitz today.

Old Fitz still follows a wheated recipe made famous by the Stitzel-Weller Distillery. Exact mashbill proportions I am not aware of, but it’s safe to say the recipe is probably identical to the original.

Old Fitzgerald 12 Year Old Bourbon, 45% abv (90 Proof), $39.99/bottle
Color: Medium Amber
Nose: Banana bread, toffee, buttered popcorn, and deep vanilla notes. There’s quite a bit of cinnamon spice and some staler aromas of sweet corn mash.
Palate: Soft as a puddle of toffee sauce. Rich vanilla custard, some maple sugars, and spicy cinnamon prickles the tongue. Very simple in terms of the flavors presented, but it does so with excellent structure. It’s not fat and overly sweet in the least.
Finish: A zippier finish than expected. The warmth from the cinnamon dominates with that ever present buttery toffee sweetness.
Overall: Old Fitz 12 year old is a beautiful whiskey full of classic wheated bourbon aromas and flavors, but made far more interesting with age. A wealth of cinnamon spice notes add some complexity, cutting the richer, sweeter flavors. My only slight criticism is the price is a good $13-15 more expensive than W.L. Weller 12 Year Old, which I rated an 8.8. Still, Old Fitz 12 is excellent whiskey and a delight to sip.
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 8.7 (Excellent)

31 Comments

  1. Paul Dray says:

    I was wondering if you were going to mention it in comparison with W.L. Weller 12, and so you did right on the last sentence :)
    Just wondering, if these two whiskies were the same price which would you grab? Or would you say they should be appreciated seperately on their own merits?

  2. thebitterfig says:

    Sounds pretty good. If I wasn’t moving out-of-state in a few weeks, I’d have to pick up a bottle (one of the few which seems cheaper in Maine than close-to-the-source). Rather, it’ll be one of the first bottles I look for when I get to my new state.

  3. charles lewis says:

    I don’t think I’ve seen it, but I’ve never looked. Sounds like something I would like. Hows the availability here in Nashville? Thanks

  4. Joe Serapilio says:

    I would love to find this juice.No where to be found here in New York State.Only entry level Old Fitz(80 proof)&1849(90 proof)

  5. Bmac says:

    According to my sources in Texas, they only sell the 12 yr Fitz in Kentucky. :(. So it seems we’ll never have it in Texas.

    I am also led to beleive there is a 15yr old too ¤__¤

  6. pat kelley says:

    I recently bought a bottle of this at Mr.Whiskers Liquor Store in Nashville.It was the first time in a long time that I had seen the 12 year old in a store in Nashville.It reminded me of the Very Very Old Fitz that I used to drink in the late 1960′s and early 1970′s.It is an excellent bourbon.I would rate it higher than your rating.It immediately went on my short list of favorite bourbons.PAT K.

  7. Paul McIvor says:

    Thanks for the review, Jason! Been waiting for it. I love this stuff; it is my go to when the Pappy runs out.

  8. You are welcome Paul. Cheers!

  9. Thanks for the comment Pat – glad you enjoy it!

  10. Bmac, I found this bottle in Nashville, so it’s definitely made its way to my location. Just FYI.

    Joe, have you checked some of the online retailers or some of the big shops in Kentucky like The Party Source or Liquor Barn. I’m almost certain they’d have it.

    Charles, 3 stores here in Franklin have it here. It’s been a while – I hope you are doing well!

    Paul – Good (and tough) question. Both are good, but I like Weller 12 just a shade more. A bit more complexity, a bit less “sweet”.

  11. Joe Serapilio says:

    No I didn’t check those Jason.The only one I did check was Binny’s out of Chicago.I got a few bottles of Evan Williams 1783 which I can’t get here either.Thanks for the tip.

  12. Allen says:

    I’ve seen this on the shelf of Bevmo in California for quite awhile. I might have to pick it up some time soon.

  13. Dawn says:

    Jason, I’m always been pennywise (cheap ?) for my bourbon. I haven’t indulged just yet in anything in the $36 territory such as the one, but now I sorta want to. Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 100P and Old Grand Dad BIB is $16 here and those are our house regulars. More intrigued now, I sense budget danger, Will Robinson …

  14. David Markle says:

    @Dawn: If your regular is OF BIB, I suggest getting into the Old Weller Antique (107 proof) or even the Weller Special Reserve (which sadly just lost its age statement). IMO those are better. The OF BIB seemed a bit “thinner” and “younger” to my palate as compared to the Weller. And the Wellers can all be had at a nice price as well, though they’re not as cheap as the OF.

    I’ve been curious but avoiding this one. I kind of figured from the quality difference I perceive from the OF vs the Weller that the OF 12 wouldn’t be quite be able to stand up against the Weller 12 (another bourbon which, inexplicably, I can not find of late). Then again the PHC stuff from the same distillery is absolutely superlative, so it’s not that Heaven Hill can’t make the good stuff. Maybe they just cherry pick it for the PHC. Jason, have you tried the PHC 10 year wheater? I’ve been curious about that one too, but haven’t pulled the trigger. More than 70 bucks for 10 year old whiskey is a bit hard for me to swallow, though I do believe it is barrel proof.

  15. Dawn says:

    Thanks Markle. I’ve had the Old Weller Antique before, and it was a little hotter and a little simpler than the Fitz. I won’t pay $7/bottle more ($20) if something that I tried before is not likely been improved since. Probably should try something at $20/per such as Buffalo Trace or Elijah Craig 12Y but I already have a chaeper high rye version in the cabinet that I love. I suppose WL Weller 12Y at $25 instead is the move for me rather than $35 for Old Fitz 12Y.

  16. DBMaster says:

    I guess you’re busy this summer, Jason. No new posts in a month? LOL! I noticed that Dominic’s last publication – which seems to have an erratic publication schedule – did not have a contribution from you. Was that your choice or his? I hope everything is going well in your world. Mike.

  17. Mike, it’s been a wild Summer indeed. Just lots of travel with the family and always something going on. This is the first weekend I’ve not had anything really going on. Between 3 sports loving daughters and a staffing company to run, it’s been crazy. I just posted a new post outlining what’s on the horizon. Stay tuned!

    Also Mike, Dom’s World Whiskey Review schedule for this past release didn’t mesh real well with my schedule. So I had to hold on this one, but I’ll definitely be contributing more.

  18. David, I am sorry for the delay on responding man! I have tried the 10 year wheater for PHC and it’s awesome. I don’t think it’s as good as Lot B for my tastes but it’s very good!

  19. Dawn says:

    Jason, Holy moly, you deserve thanks. Your blogs have helped our household find better whiskies. I bought a bottle of WL Weller 12 over the weekend and LOVE IT. Comparing it to my old reliable Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond, I’d call the Weller sappy and rich and syrupy and much much better. At $25 per bottle, the Weller isn’t bottom shelf shopping (as was our shelf habit before) but the quality difference was far more enormous than the price difference, if that makes sense. I’m really wondering what’s ahead for us now that the Old Grand Dad Bottle in Bond runs out. I suspect we’ll try Elmer T Lee.

  20. Dawn this is fantastic to hear. Taste is a subjective thing, but it’s sure fun to see folks feel like they got a hold of some bottles they enjoyed because of the reviews. Thanks for sharing. As for trying Elmer, it’s a real fave of mine. Hope you enjoy it.

  21. Dawn says:

    Jason, Oh boy. The bottom’s fallen out of the tub now. Picked up Old Fitz 12y, Elmer T Lee, Buffalo Trace, Dickel #12 and Elijah Craig 12y. Tried them Saturday night next to BIB Old Grand Dad and Old Fitz and the the Weller. Maybe we’re too easy to please, but the new ones are all terrific. Every one good and different and fun. All of us liked them better than what we were drinking before. Who knew !!! Thanks again for your reviews. We now have Bourbon in the house for the coming months and no one’s complaining one bit. Thank you and we’ll keep reading and watching.

  22. Dawn – welcome to the dark side! ; )

  23. Terry says:

    Hey guys, I see you did a review on Old Fitzgerald. What can you tell me about a bottle of Very Old Fitzgerald barreled in 1951? This is a 10 year-old bourbon and looks to be in good shape. I havent drank it or opened it yet, was curious if it was even worth opening for myself or just sitting on to it and see what happens. Im not much of a bourbon connoisseur, i usually drink Buffalo Trace or Makers Mark, aside from that, I dont know entirely too much about this bottle.

    I can be reached at theset74 at gmail dot com if anyone has any information on what i should do with this bottle.

  24. Terry, I am a bad one to ask, simply because I’d say drink it. As I haven’t had one from that year I couldn’t comment on how good it is, but I’d damn sure love to find out!

  25. Chris says:

    Hey guys,
    I Had a chance to try OF 12yr at a bar outside of Chicago …excellent stuff…my problem is I have yet to find a store in the Chicago land area who sells it….any help would be greatly appreciated….
    By the way, GREAT BLOG Jason…love reading your reviews. Keep them coming.

  26. Al says:

    I have an un-opened bottle of Old Fitz. It is corked. The Federal Tax Stamp says it was run in 1955 and bottled in the spring of 1962. The level of liquid is an inch or so low (from evaporation I guess), but it is otherwise completely intact. Both federal and State of Michigan tax stamps are present and legible. I haven’t a clue of it’s potential value, but as I am not a bourbon man, I would rather see it go to someone who would appreciate it. Any ideas?

  27. Carol says:

    Years ago, probably the mid 70s I came across an old bottle in an apartment in Wheeling WV. I collected liquor bottless and found this one most interesting. Recently I came across this bottle in some boxes while we were moving. I’m curiou as to how old this bottle actual is. Unfortunately it was empty. Who can I send a pic too to get an idea of how old it is?

  28. Carol says:

    I forgot to mention it has an Old Fitzgerald Kentucky Straight Bourbon 100 pf. from the Stitzel-Weller Distillery.

  29. BT says:

    Hey Chris. Check out Andersonville W&S in Chicago. They are the only place in town I know that carries the Very Special Old Fitz 12.

  30. Andrew A. says:

    When in Portland, Tenn , I drive up to Chuck’s Liquroes in Bowling Green to get a few cases for us here in Jacksonville, Fla and then take it to our hunting cabin outside Lake City and our fishing spot in Horseshoe Beach, Fla. Why can’t we get it down here in Fl/Ga/SC

  31. Noel Hastings says:

    I was happy to find some reviews on this bourbon now that I have spent a year or two learning about bourbon and have some idea of what I am tasting. I discovered Old Fitz 12yr from Darrell Corti of Corti brother here in Sacramento, CA. Darrell knew Julian Van Winkle II back in 1970 and they both bottled some bourbons together under a special label from S-W barrels under the “Corti Bros” label for his store here in Sacramento. When learning about bourbon Darrell told me, “this is what bourbon was supposed to be traditionally”. I use this one as a reference of sorts now. He still carries it here in his store for $39/bottle. I was lucky enough to purchase a few of Darrell’s last precious bottle of the Van Winkle bottled bourbons that were distilled in 1970 and bottled at 17 years and 19 years. I must say, they are amazing!!! I opened my Pappy 15 year that was distilled the same year (1970) the other weekend and I was amazed. I am afraid to open these last two because Darrell told me they were the last.