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.
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. 27/30 (90%)
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. 26.5/30 (88%)
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. 18/20 (90%)
Conclusion: This is a very nice bourbon which is very nice to enjoy throughout – good nose, taste, and finish…I enjoy the finish quite a bit, too. 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. 18/20 (90%)
Overall Score: 89.5/100