Review: Old Fitzgerald 13 year Bottled-In-Bond

Fancy bottle.  Age Stated.  Bottled-in-Bond.  Sounds like a recipe for success.  I had the opportunity to buy a bottle of OF13 about a month or so ago for MSRP ($130), so I of course jumped at the opportunity.  This is another one of those allocated bourbons everyone is always chasing, so when the bottle was offered to me at retail, it was hard to say no, even if it was more than I was planning on spending that day.

I’ve had the basic Old Fitz in the past and thought it was okay for the price point, but I had yet to try any of the BiB series that have been coming out over the past few years.  There’s been a 9 year, an 11 year and a 14 year that was only available in the gift shop at Heaven Hill in Kentucky.  The 9 year was supposedly really good and the 11 year missed the mark a bit from what I’ve read.  So will an extra two years in the barrel do wonders for this year’s release?  Let’s find out.

So for starters, this bottled-in-bond series comes in a beautiful decanter bottle.  Anyone with any familiarity with bourbon should be able to easily pick it out of a lineup and those that aren’t familiar will probably gravitate towards it or your Blanton’s when you offer them a pour from your stash.  The nose is fairly tame for a 100 proof bourbon with notes of seasoned oak, honey, vanilla and a bit of spice to it.  As for the palate, it’s got an almost desert-like quality about it.  It’s akin to a vanilla cake drizzled in honey, but has a slightly fruity hint to it. It’s ever so slightly reminiscent of a Speyside like Balvenie, but with no trace of smoke and not as sweet.  The oak is of course more prominent, but it’s got that rich decadence about it that I enjoy.  The finish is medium length with honey and vanilla distantly calling you in for another sip.

This is a great bourbon, but I wish that it wasn’t a limited release or quite as expensive.  At $80 and easy to find, this would be a staple in most people’s home bars.  At its current price, it’s definitely relegated as a special occasion bottle or something that you share with your bourbon buddies.  I also feel like it’s one of those bourbons that is best enjoyed after a rather high proof pour like 12 year Elijah Craig or a Knob Creek pick.  The higher proof of the first pour will acclimate your palate to the higher proof and will make the flavors of the second pour from a lower proof standout more.

So would I get another or at least try to get next years?  Probably, but I think it is a little pricey for what you’re getting.  I personally would take two bottles of Elijah Craig 12 year for a little less than what retail is on this bottle and not feel like I was missing out on anything.  I’d say try it at a bar or a buddy’s house if you can and skip hunting one down unless you want a cool looking bottle or already know that you’re going to love it.

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