In the world of bourbon, and other American whiskey, pre-prohibition is a thing. And while that is absolutely not untrue, the time between prohibition and the 1980s should not be disregarded either.
During the seventies America veered towards vodka and other lighter spirits, which caused a massive decline in bourbon production and character. This one, bottled in the 1960s, is from before these times.
With this being from sometime in the 1960s and being 6 years old, the distillate is from around 1960, just before or just after. The tax label states that it was made in 1961 and bottled in 1967.
What makes this one extra special is that it was made at the legendary Stitzel-Weller Distillery, which has been closed since 1972. It became famous for earlier releases of Pappy van Winkle and Weller. All these brands are now made at Buffalo Trace to old recipes. Of course, using old recipes in a different distillery creates an approximation of the older spirit, but will never be 100% the same.
A rather caramel-like richness, cigars, autumn leaves and not a lot of sweetness. Some minty freshness too. Very mature, with lots of oak, some dark cherries and a touch of bitterness.
The palate is dry with oak, and has some cherry stone bitterness. Pretty intense, with rancio, cigars, dry herbs and spices. Menthol, chili pepper, sawdust. Cherries and popcorn, blood orange. Lots of different flavors.
The finish continues down the same line, with more fruitiness and quite a lot of oak. A long and warming after taste, with mostly the fruitiness lingering, and some of the bitterness.
Ho. Ly. Shit. This is absolutely stellar stuff. There is so much flavor and so much complexity that this is drinkable for hours on end and you’d still discover new things.
I very much love that the sweetness is not as prominent as in contemporary styles of bourbon. There’s much more focus on the herbs, spices and fruity notes. A touch of added bitterness finishes the experience on a ridiculously high note.
Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond, 6yo, 1961-1967, Stitzel Weller, 43%