If I were to ask you for a “bourbon-y bourbon” what exactly might come to mind? If you have a mind at all in line with Pablo Moix then you’ll find your answer with his newest release, Fortuna Bourbon.
While it may seem that reviving long-forgotten whiskey brands is en vogue these days, it should be said that the founding trio of Pablo Moix, Peter Nevenglosky, and Andy Shapira are uniquely positioned to do so successfully. Pablo and Peter founded Rare Character in 2021 and they were swiftly met by critical acclaim and avid fans. Now they’ve got Andrew “Andy” Shapira, son of Heaven Hill’s President Max Shapira, along for the ride and the trio has launched Fortuna Bourbon as a way to showcase their shared passion for the history of whiskey.
With a legacy that dates back to the 1869 immigration of Philip Hollenbach and is steeped in Stitzel Bros. Distillery lore, telling the story of Fortuna is one that was an immediate draw for the founders of its contemporary revitalization. In speaking to Pablo Moix about his vision for the brand he told me, “While I was blending I was actually tasting old Glencoe bottles of Fortuna at the same time because I wanted it to be historically accurate. There are so many revival brands out there and when people acquire them I don’t know if they’re taking the time to do that, but I thought it was important because I knew other people with old bottles may want to try them side by side. At the end of the day if it tastes good most people don’t care, but as someone who has so much old whiskey I think consumers may have that expectation of me as well so I wanted to be true to that. I think we came pretty damn close.”
Featuring batches of 6 to 12 barrels stored on ricks low in the rickhouse with whiskey that is always at least 6 years old, Fortuna Bourbon has come out swinging in an era where most new brands can only muster up a 4 year old age statement for their first release, sourced or not. Staking your reputation on not only sourcing higher quality barrels but also creating more satisfying blends is a risky proposition in today’s market, but Pablo Moix and company have proven themselves to be up to the task.
When nosing Fortuna Bourbon I was first struck by a ton of brown sugar, pie crust, dried glue, and rich leather notes, with an expression of grapefruit peel. Those disparate notes are further entwined with a bit of breadiness and the aroma of old books often found in so-called dusty bourbons. I haven’t had any Glencoe bottles of Fortuna before, but this does seem to capture an interesting amalgamation of modern bourbon and the qualities more frequently found in the vintage stuff from years past.
On the palate my first sip is surprisingly effervescent and bursting with butterscotch. That sweetness soon fades to the back and is supplanted by notes of spiced Brazil nut, red chili flakes, grilled pineapple, and the aforementioned brown sugar with a chewy viscosity that rewards indecorous lip-smacking.
Finally, the concept of a “bourbon-y bourbon” comes into view as this expression exhibits what can be considered classic bourbon notes while complementing them with unique flavors and a satisfying texture that steers it far away from accusations of being quotidian. In melding notes of vintage bourbon with some tell-tale signs of contemporary juice, Fortuna succeeds by being both exceedingly crushable but also complex enough to keep it in your glass for an entire evening. I’m grateful to Fortuna for providing me with a bottle for the purpose of this review because I’m already rounding the bases on a second – purchased myself this time – for pure enjoyment.
A- / $80 / fortunabourbon.com