Very Old Fitzgerald was a premium bourbon offered by the Stitzel Weller distillery from the the late 1940s to the early 1980s. It began as an 8 year bottled in bond bourbon, and later 10 year and 12 year bottles were offered. A few 15 and 18 year bottles exist also, including some rare barrel proof versions. Generally, the 10 year version was called Very Xtra Old Fitzgerald and the 12 year was Very Very Old Fitzgerald, but before 1963 all versions were labeled simply Very Old; midway through 1963 the Very Very and Very Xtra Old terminology was introduced. Also of note: until 1958, the maximum age federal law permitted for bottled in bond bourbon was 8 years, so early versions of the 10 and 12 year will have red tax strips instead of green and not be labeled as bonded, although they’re still 100 proof. A few bottles exported to other countries had lower proofs. See also the Stitzel-Weller timeline for more info.

 

Photo libraries, in ascending order by bottling year

Very Old Fitzgerald 8yr, 1941-1949

This is the earliest Very Old Fitzgerald I’ve seen. I’d be interested to hear from anyone who has seen an earlier one.

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Rare Old Fitzgerald, 1950

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Hotel Muehlebach 13 Year Bourbon, 13yr 100pf, ~1955

This is essentially a 13yr Very Old Fitzgerald bottled by Stitzel Weller for Hotel Muehlebach in Kansas City, MO.

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Very Old Fitzgerald 8yr, 1950-1958

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Very Old Fitzgerald 8yr, 1950-1958, Half Pint

Shown in the last photo with its big brother from the same year

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Very Old Fitzgerald 10yr, 1950-1960

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Very Old Fitzgerald 8yr, 1952-1960

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Very Old Fitzgerald 12yr, 1949-1961

This is an early 12-year. At this point they hadn’t made the distinction between Very Old, Very Xtra Old, and Very Very old Fitzgerald. The earliest 12-year I’ve seen was a 1948-1960, one year before this bottle. Also, note the red tax strip. Even though this bottle is 100 proof, it couldn’t be marked as bonded because the bottled-in-bond period maxed out at 8 years until the law was changed in 1962.

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Very Old Fitzgerald 10yr, 1951-1961

Photos courtesy of Ted Doggett.

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Very Old Fitzgerald 12yr, 1950-1962

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Very Old Fitzgerald 8yr, 1955-1963

Photos courtesy of Ted Doggett.

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Very Very Old Fitzgerald 12yr, 1952-1964

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Very Xtra Old Fitzgerald 10yr, 4/5qt, 1954-1964

Photos courtesy of Brian Lovejoy

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Very Very Old Fitzgerald 12yr, 1953-1965

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Very Very Old Fitzgerald 14yr, 1951-1965

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Very Old Fitzgerald 8yr, 1957-1965

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Very Xtra Old Fitzgerald 10yr, 4/5qt, 1955-1965

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Very Very Old Fitzgerald 12yr, 1954-1966

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Very Very Old Fitzgerald 15yr, 1951-1966

Photos courtesy of Ted Doggett.

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Very Xtra Old Fitzgerald 10yr, 1957-1967

The 10-year old version was called Very Xtra Old Fitzgerald. This one came in the nice gift box, which stained the label red over the decades. I’ve been told the gift boxes were a separate purchase from the bottle, which is it seems random as to why some bottles have them and others don’t.

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Very Very Old Fitzgerald 12yr 86pf Export, 1955-1967

Photos submitted by Zac Pencikowski

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Very Xtra Old Fitzgerald 10yr, 1958-1968

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Very Old Fitzgerald 8yr, 1960-1968, Half Pint

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Very Very Old Fitzgerald 18yr, 1951-1969

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Very Very Old Fitzgerald 18yr 121pf “Blackhawk” 1951-1969

One of the rarest Very Old Fitzgerald bottlings, this was bottled at 121 barrel proof and 18 years old especially for the Wirtz family of Chicago. The Wirtzes owned (and still do) the Chicago Blackhawks and also run the largest liquor distribution company in the area. These bottles weren’t sold to the public, but rather were given to friends and business associates of the Wirtz family.

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Very Very Old Fitzgerald 15yr, 1956-1971

This is one of the rare Very Very Old Fitzgeralds that’s older than 12 years. I’ve seen some 14, 15, and 18 year bottles, but they were usually bottles done for special clients. A few of them were even bottled at 121 proof, although this one is a 100 proof bonded version.

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Very Old Fitzgerald 8yr 1/2 Pint, 1963-1971

Photos courtesy of Ted Doggett.

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Very Old Fitzgerald, 8yr, 1965-1973

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Very Very Old Fitzgerald 12yr, 1963-1975

This Very Very Old Fitzgerald was bottled in 1975. Notice that the distillery is listed as “Old Fitzgerald” instead of Stitzel-Weller. This change came along in 1972 after the sale of the company by the Van Winkle family. Also, this bottle has a screw cap instead of a cork.

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Very Very Old Fitzgerald 12yr, 1965-1978

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Very Very Old Fitzgerald 12yr, 1967-1979

Photos courtesy of Eli Spitzner

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Very Very Old Fitzgerald 12yr, 750ml, 1981

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Very Very Old Fitzgerald 12yr, ~1982

This bottle shows the plastic box that the Very Old Fitzgeralds were sold in starting in the 1970s.
Photos courtesy of Steve Pendergast.

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Very Old Fitzgerald / Weller Leatherette Display Boxes

Several Very Old Fitzgerald varieties (as well as Old Fitzgerald 1849 and some Weller bottles) have been found encased in sturdy leatherette display-type cases complete with shot glasses and keys for the locking mechanism. The history seems murky on which bottles came with which boxes originally. I’ve been told that they may have been sold separately from the bottles, and that the design of the case didn’t necessarily match up to a particular whiskey. Another theory is that at some point in the 1960s the boxes were offered with any Old Fitzgerald that was 10 years or older. At some point in the 1970s these were replaced with a simple clear plastic box that contained the bottle.
If anybody has boxes not represented here I’d love photos.

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