William Heavenhill Single Barrel is a distillery exclusive bottling from Heaven Hill Distilleries that is available only at the Bourbon Heritage Center that adjoins the distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky. It was named for a 19th century distiller and owner of the land where the distillery now sits. For the 5th edition of William Heavenhill that was released in 2017, the distillery selected 30 barrels of 14-year-old bourbon from the 3rd floor of Rickhouse U and bottled each as a single barrel at 115 proof. With a price tag that far exceeds most premium bourbons of comparable age, it’s no wonder that the label recommends it for “any whiskey connoisseur’s collection.” These are clearly bottles priced to become conversation pieces. But who needs conversation?
Classic bourbon character is all over the nose on this whiskey with chewy caramel, baking spice, dusty oak, and orange marmalade. Digging deeper, there’s a bit of brandied cherry and new leather. On the palate, an immediate, peppery heat hits the back of the throat and softens quickly into a syrupy mouthfeel. It’s more simple syrup than honey on the tongue, but still thick and sweet with notes of toffee, nutmeg, vanilla bean, orange zest, and Big Red gum. All of that is balanced with just the right amount of oak, and the finish is long with more cinnamon, some pipe tobacco, and a lingering spiced apple note.
The price tag may encourage a “whiskey connoisseur” to keep this bottle on the shelf, or worse still, to sell it on the secondary market for an even more ridiculous sum to someone who will also just keep it on a shelf. Take it from us: If you made the journey to Bardstown and were able to stomach the price tag, you owe it to yourself to crack the wax on this one. It’s worth it.
115 proof. Reviewed: Barrel #18.
A / $250 / heavenhill.com