Old Fitzgerald Prime has an interesting history. It is the Bourbon that Julian P. Van Winkle refused to bottle. He believed that Old Fitzgerald should only be sold as a bonded Bourbon. He is noted in his advertising as saying it was silly for the consumer to be paying for water. If they wanted a lower proof, let them add water themselves. I have to admire his logic.

However after his death, his son Julian Jr. reluctantly bowed to the pressure from the sales force that were clamoring for a lower proof version of Old Fitzgerald and Prime was created. It was originally an 86 proof product. When United Distillers owned the brand they continued to make an 86 proof version for Kentucky but lowered the proof to 80 for the markets outside of Kentucky. When Heaven Hill acquired the brand they lowered the proof to 80 in Kentucky as well in order to stretch the supplies that they purchased. Now there is only the 80 proof version in the market.

Old Fitzgerald Prime is a Bourbon made with wheat as the flavoring grain. It has a softer flavor with more vanilla, apple and hazelnut flavors in the mouth than a traditional Bourbon made with rye. It goes well in a cocktail but is still flavorful enough to enjoy neat.

Old Fitzgerald Prime

Proof: 80

Age: No Age Statement

Nose: Sweet vanilla notes with some apple fruit and oak.

Taste: Vanilla, apples and hazelnuts with just a hint of oak and pepper spice. Tasted with a dried cranberry and the oak and spice come forward without dominating the vanilla and apple. Tasted with a pecan the vanilla comes forward and the oak and spice flavors are reduced.

Finish: The finish is short and dry. The cranberry lengthens the finish and makes it drier with oak tannins. The pecan shortens the finish to almost nothing.

Today I am enjoying an Oliva Serie G cigar with the Old Fitzgerald Prime. The smoke of this cigar has some vanilla notes with straw and cedar. The Bourbon brings out a little more spice in the smoke while reducing the straw flavors while the smoke brings out the apple fruit in the Bourbon. A decent pairing that improves the Bourbon and the cigar.

Photos Courtesy of Rosemary Miller