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Old Heaven Hill Bottled In Bond

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@VictorReview by @Victor

3rd May 2013


Old Heaven Hill Bottled In Bond
  • Nose
  • Taste
  • Finish
  • Balance
  • Overall

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  • Brand: Heaven Hill
  • ABV: 50%

Heaven Hill is one of the largest producers of US bourbon and rye whiskeys. "Bottled In Bond" is a US government designation requiring, among other things, a bottling at 50% ABV, a minimum of 4 years of aging, and all of the whiskey bottled from a single year of production. I have had this bottle for more than 3 years, and it has been open for over 2 years. It was, however, 97% full prior to sampling for this review. Recent batches of HH BIB have been sold bottled at 4 yrs, 5 yrs, and 6 yrs. I am assuming that the reviewed bottle is 4 yo, because I have no information otherwise. The bottle relates that this is charcoal filtered. This is a non-sequential format review

Strength: the flavours are very strong in Old Heaven Hill BIB; really, in nose, palate, and finish there is a ton of flavour here. This is a great example of how 4 years in new oak can yield very strong flavouring, even cut down to 50% ABV. Score 24/25

Quality: the flavours are vivid and piquante, both from the grains and from the wood. The rye is crisp, the corn provides a very full background creaminess, and vanilla and natural caramel from the wood are pointed and engaging. Score 23/25

Variety: filtration to provide mass-market "smoothness" cuts the range and nuance of flavours quite a lot. Score 18/25

Harmony: there is very competent harmony of the flavours present, but filtration here has greatly cut down on the complexity available. Score 20/25

Comment: this is quite a decent bourbon, with intense flavours, but reduced depth and complexity, due to the filtration process. As of May 2013, this can be purchased at Binny's in Chicago for $ 11.99 plus tax. This is not a commonly available bourbon, but is a good example of very decent quality products still available in the US at very low prices


WhiskyBee commented

Victor, I'm starting to wonder if yours isn't the more useful approach to whisk(e)y reviews. Aside from certain basic flavors and aromas (malt, sherry, vanilla, corn, peat, etc.), have any two reviewers ever agreed on tasting notes? There's more agreement on quality and overall experience than there is on the more subtle underlying flavors. One man's apples are another man's oranges, if you will.

Despite your problems with this bourbon, it sounds like an exceptional bang for the buck. I notice that Heaven Hill's Ultra Deluxe White Label sells for a dollar more...and is bottled at 10% lower ABV. But it's Ultra Deluxe, after all! ;-)

11 years ago 0

Victor commented

@WhiskyBee, it is always good to get some intel on lower price whiskeys which are enjoyable. People can be a bit scared of the prices of the top shelf and filled with dread at the very idea of the "bottom shelf". There are always outliers in every large pool of data, very expensive duds and very cheap relative gems. Usually qualification as 'Bottled in Bond' is a characteristic of a bourbon at least one big step off the bottom...at the very least, if it is BIB, it is bottled at 50% ABV, which is a very reasonable level of concentration of flavours.

11 years ago 0

plattvillepeat commented

@Victor, I recently purchased a bottle of Heaven Hill Old Style Bourbon Bottled-In-Bond in Bardstown. The side label stated "charcoal filtered", the neck label "6 years old". Some blog threads suggest only the label has changed. The price was $11.99 plus tax. The bottle of Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond Kentucky Straight Bourbon that you sourced for me states charcoal filtered, but does not state an age. I do note that the Evan Williams is "Genuine Sour Mash" whereas the Heaven Hill is "Genuine Custom Made Mash". As a famous politician once said "What's the difference?"

8 years ago 0

Victor commented

@plattvillepeat, "sour mash" is the process by which nearly 100% of US whiskeys are made, using maybe 1/3 of the old batch of distiller's beer to acidify the new batch, in order to inhibit unwanted microbial growth. There is no difference between these notices, I am sure.

That Heaven Hill 6 yo Bottled in Bond is fairly uncommon in having an age statement above the mandated 4 years of aging required for the Bottled in Bond designation. Of course, if your whiskey is older than the required minimum it is favourable for marketing to advertise that fact.

I am not at all sure what might differentiate the Evan Williams Bonded bourbon from other Heaven Hill Bonded bourbons. It used to be that Evan Williams had a 7 year age statement. That is no longer so.

8 years ago 0