Review: Heaven’s Door Ascension, Homesick Blues, and Bootleg Series Vol. V

Review: Heaven’s Door Ascension, Homesick Blues, and Bootleg Series Vol. V

Lots of action going on at Heaven’s Door these days. There’s a new distillery, a new visitor’s center, and a big  renaming (and even revamping) of its core lineup.

Let’s start with the basics. First, Heaven’s Door’s core lineup — three whiskeys — have all been given new names and new bottle graphics, each featuring founder Bob Dylan’s famed metalworks. The details of the new monikers:

  • “Heaven’s Door Revival” – the Tennessee straight bourbon
  • “Heaven’s Door Revelation” – Heaven’s Door’s double barrel whiskey
  • “Heaven’s Door Refuge” – the straight rye whiskey finished in Amontillado Sherry casks (this is a new finish for the rye, which we haven’t tried)

In addition to that, there’s plenty of new stuff, including a new fourth whiskey added to the core lineup and two limited editions which we’re taking a crack at for the first time.

All the details and our tasting notes are waiting for you below. Dig in!

Heaven’s Door Ascension Kentucky Straight Bourbon – This is the new, fourth installation into the core lineup, and it’s the first Kentucky whiskey in the mix — which will be helpful when Heaven’s Door opens its distillery in Kentucky in the next few months. This is a blend of two Kentucky straight bourbons, one of which is the company’s own distillate produced at the Heaven’s Door Distillery at Six Mile Creek. Minimum age is five years old. Sharp and peppery, this is a much bolder and aggressive whiskey than I was expecting from Heaven’s Door. Layers of mint and darker spices add nuance to an engaging nose, hinting at peanut brittle on the back end. The palate backs all that up, offering a warming, baking spice quality that melds well with notes of roasted peanuts, toasted coconut, and plenty of mixed red berry fruit as it builds in the glass. Cinnamon notes linger on the finish. All told this is really well-crafted stuff — though Heaven’s Door has been killing it lately, so I really expect nothing less from the operation — and the company’s own distillate seems to be pulling its weight (though there’s no telling how much HD distillate is in the blend). Either way, at this price, it’s a steal. 92 proof. A- / $45

Heaven’s Door Homesick Blues Minnesota Wheated Bourbon – A limited edition oddity, this whiskey was made in Dylan’s home state of Minnesota — a rarity — and commemorates the release of Bob Dylan: Mixing Up The Medicine, Dylan’s biography. The cask-strength whiskey is 7 years old and is sold as a bundle with the book. I didn’t get the book, but I did receive a sample of the whiskey, which is familiar, albeit moderately engaging. Slightly doughy on the nose, the whiskey melds ample aromas of barrel char, barbecued meats, sagebrush, with some lighter sweetness — macaroons, vanilla wafers — to create a cohesive yet vaguely frontier-like experience. Bold on the palate, thanks largely to its oversized abv, notes of Christmassy baking spices layer on ginger and cloves, but the underbelly offers a bready, Triscuit quality that evokes notes of hemp rope and old saddle leather. Very savory and a little rough on the finish, even with water, it’s probably the most aggressive Heaven’s Door release I’ve had to date, for better or worse. 122.7 proof. B / $150 (with book)

Heaven’s Door Bootleg Series Vol. V – Heaven’s Door’s Bootleg Series is always a treat, and this year’s offering is an 18 year old bourbon finished in Spanish sweet vermouth casks — an unusual proposition that sounds like a micro-Manhattan. That’s not far from the mark here, as the sweetness of the vermouth is palpable from the start. Distinctly winey aromatics offer elements of ruddy baking spices, red fruit teetering on Port, and an oxidized, sherry-adjacent quality. Underlying all of this is a vanilla-laced character with notes of dark chocolate, plums, and ample barrel char, gritty with notes of graphite. Time in glass lets things develop to showcase notes of brewed tea and a heavy walnut oil quality, the latter of which comes across as quite unexpected. The palate stays the course, showcasing toasty oak, more oily walnuts, and a healthy tobacco note. Dark brown sugar and caramel come along to sweeten up the finish, alongside some fruitier notes — strawberry and raspberry. There’s a lot going on here, which is just what you’d want if you were drinking a cocktail, but the heavy fruit component might be divisive in the vein of last year’s WhistlePig Boss Hog IX. A splash or two of water is a good idea here; although the whiskey isn’t hot, things coalesce a bit better at a lower abv. And at these prices, stretching things out a bit isn’t a bad idea. 100 proof. A- / $600

Heaven's Door Ascension Kentucky Straight Bourbon




Christopher Null is the founder and editor in chief of Drinkhacker. A veteran writer and journalist, he also operates Null Media, a bespoke content creation company.

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