Sometimes you have to try bourbon side by side with another whiskey that is totally different. Usually, a wheated bourbon and bourbon with rye as a secondary grain isn’t truly different enough. In most cases, not even a bourbon versus a 51% rye whiskey will do the trick. But a wheated bourbon compared with a 95% rye barrel finished in ex-ruby port casks from Portugal, which then aged rum before being shipped to Four Gate? That promises to be the sort of distinctive differences that I want.
Old Fitzgerald Spring 2021 Bottled in Bond Tasting Notes
Bourbon: Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Distillery: Heaven Hill
Age: 8 years
ABV: 50% (100 proof)
Amber with slight red.
Classic wheater in many ways, with sweet caramel, subtle honeysuckle, and spring grass. But another nice layer of cinnamon and dark, dried fruit, too.
Caramel dominates, with a buttery mouthfeel, light fruit sweetness, and slight earthiness at the end. Extremely solid and nothing unexpected. On the first pour it almost seemed too much of exactly what I expected, but on the second and third evenings, I enjoyed it more and more. This is an extremely refined and balanced bourbon with complexity that builds.
Medium/long with a really enjoyable fade.
Four Gate Ruby Rye Tasting Notes
Bourbon: Four Gate Ruby Rye Springs
Distillery: Undisclosed, but distilled in Indiana, so … MGP
Age: 7 years
ABV: 56.7% (113.4 proof)
Intense rye with dried dark fruit around the corners, along with brown sugar, baking spice, and lemon zest.
Intense rye again. Tasting it alongside a wheated bourbon really amps up the rye spice. It’s also a lot sweeter than the nose predicted, like a juicy, syrupy, sweetness, then shifting to slightly herbal with black pepper and oak, but all along a brown sugar backbone.
The finish is crisp. Berry sweetness fades first as rye and black pepper surge.
Many people focus too much on age when selecting bourbon, while others more in the know realize that bourbon is dynamic enough to have sweet spots at different ranges without being wed to a certain age target. Old Fitzgerald has proven that with bourbon as old as 16 years old and now as young as 8 years old. And this Spring 2021 edition absolutely shines.
Four Gate’s Batch 7—which I really liked—is the base Rye for Ruby Rye Springs. When I reviewed Batch 7, I found it mouthwatering, and now with the finishing influence of port and rum, it’s even more so. As with other Four Gate batches, this is extremely limited at 1,444 bottles if you’re in Kentucky, Tennessee, Indiana, or Georgia, or Seelbach’s if you’re almost anywhere else.
Disclaimer: The brand managers kindly
sent me samples for this review,
without any strings attached.