Very Very Old Fitzgerald 1955 Bottled in Bond 12 Year Old 86 Proof for Edoardo Giaccone / Stitzel-Weller
Originally registered as "Jno. E. Fitzgerald," the Old Fitzgerald brand was devised by S.C. Hebst in 1870. Hebst was a rectifier by trade (using grain neutral spirit with colouring and flavourings to make "whiskey"), but he also had a passion for sourcing high quality barrels of pot still bourbon and rye, which he bottled as Jno. E. Fitzgerald. When the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897 was passed, rectified whiskey fell out of favour and Hebst went into the distilling business, purchasing a distillery which he named Old Judge after his best-selling flagship brand. Old Judge did not survive Prohibition however, and Hebst sold the Old Fitzgerald brand for just $10,000 to a former customer, a certain Julian 'Pappy' Van Winkle, who was sourcing label for his new Stitzel-Weller venture. Van Winkle had a near-religious belief in the importance of quality above all else in the bourbon he produced and under his guidance, Old Fitzgerald became and remains to this day, one of the most sought-after and respected labels in American whiskey. Stitzel-Weller was eventually shut down by United Distillers, and as their successor, Diageo, sold the Old Fitzgerald brand was sold to current owners, Heaven Hill.
This is the 12 year old Very Very Old Fitzgerald, distilled at Stitzel-Weller in 1955 and bottled in 1967. While under his management, 'Pappy' Van Winkle refused to bottle Old Fitzgerald at anything less than the domestic requirement of 100 proof, set out by the Bottled in Bond Act of 1897. When he stepped back from management in 1964 however, the board put pressure on Julian II to meet the market demand for a lighter style product. In the US, they launched the Old Fitzgerald Prime, however in export markets where the Bottled in Bond law did not apply, they were able to simply reduce the proof as is the case here.
The Stitzel-Weller company was officially established in 1933 at the repeal of National Prohibition in the US. It was the result of a merger between the A. Ph. Stitzel distillery and its biggest customer, W.L. Weller & Sons. The Stitzel-Weller distillery opened on Kentucky Derby day in 1935, and quickly developed a reputation for its high quality wheated bourbon, and its main brands were Old Weller, Old Fitzgerald and Cabin Still. The original ownership was shared between Alex T. Farnsley, Arthur Philip Stitzel and Julian Van Winkle. The former passed-away in 1941 and 1947, respectively, leaving the Van Winkle family as the sole heirs to the business. 'Pappy' died in 1965, having handed the reigns to his son, Julian II the year prior, who ran it until 1972 when the board of directors forced him to sell it to the Norton-Simon subsidiary, Somerset Imports. When they were bought over by the American arm of Scottish distillers, DCL, its subsequent iteration invested heavily in bourbon. So much so in fact, that their newly rebuilt Bernheim distillery had such capacity that Stitzel-Weller was rendered surplus to requirements. It was shut down in 1992. Still part of the Diageo portfolio, it has never re-opened and instead now houses the visitor experience for their Bulleit brand.
This was a very special bottling produced for Edoardo Giaccone in Italy. Giaccone was something of a trailblazer, and was importing specially bottled official single malts for his bar in the late 1960s. He opened the famous venue in 1958, and it has been called a few different things over the years, including Garten, Edward & Edward, and La Taverna del Comandante.
Edoardo set the stage for later legendary bottlers such as Silvano Samaroli, Nadi Fiori and Ernesto Mainardi. Moon Import founder, Pepi Mongiardino said, "he was the first person I visited" when he became the distributor for Bruichladdich in 1981. Giaccone did not have any of his own labels or series, but was the first person in Italy to have official bottlings produced exclusively for him. Through his bar, Italy was treated to exclusive releases from Clynelish, Bowmore, Dalmore, Highland Park and even Jack Daniel's.
This bottle is being sold from the Pat's Whisk(e)y private collection which, numbering in excess of 9,000 bottles and over 2,000 miniatures, is the single largest collection of whisky ever to be brought to auction. Pat's Whisk(e)y is the result of over fifteen years of passion and dedication to the goal of creating one of the most complete libraries of whisky and whiskey ever amassed by an individual collector. It contains bottles from over 150 different Scottish distilleries, as well as bourbon, rare Scotch releases from sought-after independent bottlers in Europe, and whisky from other distilleries across the globe. Whisky Auctioneer is delighted to have partnered with Pat's Whisk(e)y to offer this collection across a number of exclusive and spotlight auctions. For more information, please click here.
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Please note: Due to the various ages of bottles and their seals, condition of liquid is at the buyer's discretion and no claim can be lodged against failure/leakage in transit.