I didn’t expect to be writing this week. I’ve dragged the Pretty Little Wife, Baby A, and Q down to my parents’ place in Southwest Florida for a week of fun in the sun. Things are going well so far. The sun is shining and everyone seems to be having fun.
When I went poking through my parents’ liquor cabinet the other night, I was expecting to find an older bottle of Maker’s or maybe some Ancient Age. I knew the had a few old bottles of my grandparents’ bourbon that they’d brought down from Kentucky when they retired, but I found way more than I’d ever expected.
The least dusty of the bottles were a pair of Old Fitzgeralds from 1990 or 1991. They have barcodes and government warnings, which means they can’t be any older, but I don’t believe they’re any younger because my family (other than myself) hasn’t bought any bourbon since 1991.
So why are a couple bottles of Old Fitzgerald special? Because they represent 1.75 liters of bourbon from the much praised and now defunct Stitzel-Weller distillery. The only way to get your hands on a bottle of Stitzel-Weller stock these days is to make nice with your local whiskey merchant and score a high enough spot on the annual Pappy waiting list to take home a 20 or 23 year-old bottle of Pappy Van Winkle Family Reserve.
Next in line is a bottle of Old Taylor. It’s a pint bottle with no metric units, which places it pre-1979. There’s a 75 on the bottom of the bottle, so I’m guessing it’s a year older than I am. A six year-old Old Taylor from the mid 70s might well have been produced at E.H. Taylor’s Old Taylor distillery prior to Beam’s purchase of the brand and distillery in 1972.
When we spin the bottles around, we can see that these puppies came from Stitzel-Weller. The brand was introduced around 1950 and, until 1980, had very limited distribution. One of the bottles is In rough shape. The top of the stopper has broken off and now the remainder of the cork in the bottle’s neck is all that’s holding in the bourbon.
The star of the show is a half-pint of Stitzel-Weller’s Old Fitzgerald 1849 from the early 70s. The bottle is still in good shape and the bourbon inside has a rich red color. A quick check of the interwebs says that similar bottles have sold for as much as $600. Personally, I would rather drink my grandparents’ bourbon than sell it.
Some of these bottles will be traveling back to Texas with me. Most will be staying behind in Florida. After all, it’s not like I won’t be back.