||Virgin Charred Oak|
||~68% Corn; 20% Wheat; 12% Malted Barley|
|Distiller||Heaven Hill (Bardstown, Kentucky)|
Only three major bourbon producers regularly make a bourbon where wheat stands in as the second grain to corn, rather than rye, in the recipe – Buffalo Trace, Maker’s Mark, and Heaven Hill. Heaven Hill makes a few products, this being the top of their line of regular production wheated bourbons. Wheat is typically associated with bringing good body and sweetness to bourbons, rather than the sharpness and spiciness of rye.
This whiskey is named after John E. Fitzgerald, who was a treasury agent during the time that the US government kept a very tight lid on all distilled spirits production to ensure both the quality of the product (and protect against counterfeits) and to keep the taxes coming in. He had the only keys to the rickhouses, and it was said that he had a great eye for the best bourbon and having some of it “dissapear” under his watch.
Bottling Code: N/A
Bottling Date: 2015
Nose: The nose is nicely balanced – you can tell that from the first whiff. Milk chocolate, dried apricot, plums, vanilla, black pepper, cherry, cranberry, caramel, some slightly musty earthiness (this isn’t bad, in case the description isn’t appealing…), and a good bit of creaminess amidst it all. I notice more corn as it sits.
Taste: Some corn comes through quite nicely, and the creaminess comes through and it has a nice sweet backbone to it and with it, quite a decent spicy kick too! There’s also a good bit of oak, some more of that chocolate, some nice vanilla, brown sugar with a bit of butter, cinnamon, and some apple.
Finish: Creamy, with a decent bit of sweetness and some developing oak and heat in the mouth. Beautiful aged oak on the finish. I say aged oak because it has the characteristic not of fresh oak but rather much more like oak that has been sitting for a long time, like old barrel houses with old barrels that are “weathered” – if you have ever been to one. Otherwise, a bit like some oak that has been weathered a bit and is a bit mossy and earthy…pleasant, and it lingers well. And, I find some charred oak more reminiscent of fresh oak come out with some time too, adding a bit of a smoky character to the mix.
This is a very nice bourbon which is very nice to enjoy throughout – good nose, taste, and finish. In the States, this is very cheap and well worth the price, in my opinion. From time to time, this one might be a bit sweet for me, but generally it is well balanced and there is a lot going on.
Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).
Value: Very high, if you can find this for about $38 CAD as I did.
Bottling Code: A3449122A
Bottling Date: ~2019
With the popularity of wheated bourbons, I wonder if this one will ever become quite hard to find. To their credit, I suppose, Heaven Hill seems to do a decent job at keeping their products available compared to many of the other big Kentucky distilleries (or, perhaps, they aren’t as good at creating marketing hype).
The nose is rich, oaky, and full of corn – lots of oaky spices but much softer than the ryed versions of bourbons from Heaven Hill. It is still quite oaky, as many of the Heaven Hill products are – and in that way it seems bigger than other wheated bourbons. There are some solid nutty notes, dried flowers, corn oil, vanilla, brown sugar, butter, and oak. Fairly clean. Cranberries, too – once again.
This is good, but it is lacking a bit in depth compared to the last one I reviewed - it seems a bit less mature.
Recommended (81% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).
Value: High, at $45.