Review: Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 13 Years Old 25th Anniversary Edition VVS 2024

Review: Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 13 Years Old 25th Anniversary Edition VVS 2024

Heaven Hill’s first 2024 release of the Old Fitzgerald bottled in bond series has arrived with extra-special vibes attached: This release commemorates the 25th anniversary of Heaven Hill acquiring the historic Bernheim Distillery (DSP-KY-1) in Louisville — and along with it the Old Fitzgerald brand. This isn’t the spring release of Old Fitz — we figure that will show up by the end of summer — but rather a special “VVS” edition, which features a maroon label.

Since 2018, there have only ever been two other VVS releases, including VVS 2018 14-year-old and VVS 2020 16-year-old — neither of which we reviewed. The 2024 edition will be available on an allocated basis as an exclusive Kentucky release to select retailers and the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience in Bardstown.

This release, as the name suggests, is filled with 13 year old bourbon, which is made from the same mashbill as Larceny: 68% corn, 20% wheat, and 12% malted barley.

Some notes from the brand:

After the catastrophic fire at the Old Heaven Hill Springs Distillery in November 1996, Heaven Hill acquired the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville in April 1999. The barrels used for this release were produced in September 1999, emptied in March 2013 and bottled in February 2024. When these barrels were tested in 2013, it was decided that the taste profile at 13 years old was exceptional and the profile would be reserved for a special occasion, such as this 25th Anniversary Edition. Thirteen is also a lucky number for Heaven Hill, as the company filled its first barrel ever on December 13, 1935.

“The Bernheim Distillery became the lifeblood of Heaven Hill after the setback from the fire and has been ever since,” said Executive Chairman Max Shapira. “We are honored to have been able to continue the Old Fitzgerald legacy since that time and look forward to many more years of exceptional releases from Bernheim Distillery and from the Heaven Hill Springs Distillery set to open early next year.”

With the prologue out of the way, let’s dive in.

Bold and oaky on the nose, this bourbon has an aggressive oily quality to it, a mild petrol note overtaken by a rather intense spice bill. Give this some time in glass to evolve — there’s a bit of boozy alcohol that needs to blow off — and the rich notes of cloves and cinnamon really start to pop. Nutty, dark chocolate notes emerge with further development time.

On the palate, barrel notes are dominant, perhaps a bit too much so, and the lumberyard influence is a bit tough to shake off at first. Keep with it, and try a drop or two of water to soften things up. Again those aggressive spice box notes come roaring into focus: More cinnamon, allspice, and nutmeg give the whiskey a Christmas cake quality that feels wholly out of place in April, but which ultimately I found I didn’t really mind. Maraschino cherry, vanilla, and maple syrup notes come along in short order, leading to a sharp but buttery conclusion. There’s ample char throughout, a ruddy earthiness clinging to the finish which helps to temper some of the sweeter notes of the attack. That said, this is Old Fitzgerald at one of its most fruit-forward and effusive — vibrant, alive, and indeed worthy of a celebration.

100 proof.

A- / $230

Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond 13 Years Old 25th Anniversary Edition VVS 2024

$230
9

Rating

9.0/10

Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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