The Bootleg Series from Heaven’s Door, now in its fourth iteration, always comes complete with three things: a painting from Bob Dylan, a beautiful bespoke leather case, and an eye-popping asking price. The liquid composition of each series entry, however, is always different. For this latest edition the brand has taken 11 year-old wheated bourbon and finished it in Islay Scotch casks before bottling it at 111 proof.
While it may seem like a curious decision at first to pair a typically delicate bourbon mash bill with casks from one of Scotch whiskey’s most expressive regions, the choice immediately pays dividends on the nose. Here a subtle smokiness complements cooked apple and classic wheated bourbon aromas. It isn’t full of particularly dense aromas, though it is full of inviting ones that offer further notes of white chocolate, salted caramel, and a dusty quality typically associated with much older whiskeys.
Once the glass passes your lips and introduces the whiskey to your palate it gets very Scotch-forward as the iodine and smoke come streaking over the tongue before they’re tempered by notes of nutmeg, plum skin, and tobacco leaf. It’s at midpalate where vanilla ice cream and the aforementioned white chocolate flakes find their footing and extend through the finish, which reintroduces the tobacco leaf and slightly ashen aspect of the first sip. While it initially surprises due to the Islay influence being more pronounced on the palate than it is on the nose, each sip soon settles into an appetizing balance between the soft and lightly sweet notes of wheated bourbon and the brooding smokiness of its finishing cask.
While the packaging for Heaven’s Door Bootleg Series Vol. IV is quite ornate and the whiskey contained within represents a most enjoyable mélange of two distinctly different regions, one could easily savor the latter without suffering the former if it meant a more approachable price point. Like many whiskeys priced in the triple-digit range, the bells and whistles are nice, but the whiskey alone fails to command the associated cost despite being a rather enjoyable experiment.