For years, Heaven Hill marketed a value-priced bourbon called Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond. For 12 bucks you got a solid 6 year old, 100 proof whiskey, at least if you lived in Kentucky. When it was discontinued earlier this year as the crushing rise in demand for quality bourbon depleted stocks which would be used in lower-cost product, the howls echoed all the way to the west coast, where you couldn’t get the stuff anyway but where hackles were nonetheless raised.
It was only a few months later that the distillery announced a successor: Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond 7 Years Old is a year older, available more readily across the country (at least it will be eventually), and… wait for it… about 3 times the price. Hey, can’t blame Heaven Hill for maximizing profits… but only if the juice is good, right?
We received the new Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond 7 Years Old for review and it’s time to see whether this is a worthy replacement in the end.
The nose is bold and for the most part in line with expectations: barrel char, dark chocolate, and cola dominate. Smoky notes of barbecued brisket burnt ends emerge with time in glass. The palate is softer than its 100 proof alcohol level might indicate, with a solid vanilla and caramel note offering an immediate sweetness. This slides ever so gently toward butterscotch and nutty Butterfinger notes as the body develops, with notes of buttery grilled corn on the cob reminding you of the whiskey’s old Kentucky home. I get just a hint of truffle on the finish, but there’s also a bit of fruit here — apples and peaches — flavors which don’t really cut through the front of the experience.
All told, it’s not exactly a masterwork, but it’s much better than many other bourbons on the market selling at higher prices than this. The bottled-in-bond abv doesn’t hurt; this is a whiskey that can stand up to being knocked around a bit by some booziness — and maybe even come out ahead in the process.