Just a couple of years ago, I was taking it for granted that Heaven Hill 6-Year Bottled-in-Bond would always be around. Readily available on regional store shelves, I confess I had even used it for “cooking bourbon” at one point. Often found near a bottom-bargain-shelf, it was perhaps one of the best bargains out there at a less than $20 price point.
Sadly, in the Fall of 2018, Heaven Hill made it official and announced the 6-Year Bottled-in-Bond expression would be discontinued. Many speculated that this great juice would end up in some of their more routine expressions, such as Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond.
In June 2019, Heaven Hill announced that its namesake Bottled-in-Bond expression would be back, though with a 7-year age statement, a revamped bottle design … and a revamped price. The 6-year was available in regional markets sub-$20; suggested retail on the revamped 7-year was $40, but most locations I saw approached $70.
The beautifully updated bottle shares the story of this expression:
This Kentucky Bourbon pays tribute to the earliest days of the distillery’s history when in 1939 it released Heaven Hill Bottled-in Bond. The namesake brand quickly became the number-one-selling bourbon whiskey in the State of Kentucky. Still today the craftsmanship poured into this bottle by the same founding family meets exacting standards first set forth in the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. This historic offering reflects on the company founders’ firm belief it takes patience and perseverance to make something of great quality.
Heaven Hill 7-Year Bottled-in-Bond is distilled at D.S.P. KY-1 and bottled at D.S.P. KY-31. Here’s a little bit of the bourbon-nerd in me. In the 1800s, to facilitate the collection of alcohol taxes, as distilleries were established, each Distilled Spirit Plant (D.S.P.) was assigned a consecutive number. Over the years, as distillers came, went, and merged, many numbers disappeared.
Following Heaven Hill’s horrendous distillery fire in 1996, Heaven Hill purchased the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville from United Distillers and parent, Guinness. Along with the keys to the nearly brand-new plant came the coveted D.S.P. KY-1 moniker. KY-31 represents Heaven Hill’s bottling operations in Bardstown, KY. To put some perspective on the sheer number of D.S.P. designations, Michters is 20003 and Bulleit is 20026.
If you’re not familiar with Bottled-in-Bond, it’s an interesting segment of the American whiskey market. Dating to the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897 – one of the first consumer health safety acts – the act set standards for quality and authenticity. Spirits labeled as Bottled-in-Bond must be:
– a product of 1 distillation season, by a single distiller, at a single location
– aged in a federally bonded warehouse under U.S. government supervision for at least 4 years
– bottled at 100 proof
– labeled to identify the distillery where it was distilled
– produced in the U.S.
The mash bill is 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley, identical to their award-winning Henry McKenna 10-Year.
Eye: Medium copper with long, thin legs exhibited on my glass.
Nose: Heaps of vanilla and caramel. Some lighter mint notes are present. Overall, very pleasing.
Palate: Spice and oak hit the tip of my tongue followed by vanilla and butterscotch. A light mouthfeel.
Finish: Medium and smooth, with some oak and vanilla, followed by a warm and spicy Kentucky hug.
Overall: This is a very pleasant drinker. Found at retail, this would be an everyday drinker. Heaven Hill continues to produce some fine quality spirts that are smooth and easy drinking, yet also complex enough for you to explore all the subtle nuances.
The extra year of aging has made this ever so slightly smoother than the original 6-Year version. There was no extra woody or tannin notes from the extra year of aging. I did catch some subtle mint notes with the 7-year that I hadn’t noticed in the 6-year and would agree with others who felt the 6-year was slightly sweeter.
The new bottle and labeling should also catch the eye of a younger bourbon drinker as well as those that know and recognize the incredible value packed into the former 6-Year Bottled-in-Bond. My only real complaint is the marked-up price. At $40 retail, this is squarely in a fair price. Marked up to near $70, though, it’s a bit hard to stomach. While it’s good, I’m not sure it’s completely worth the $70 as that approaches a number of other great 10-year bourbon finds.
If you find one of these, be sure to grab one – and if you can find it for $40 – you may want to grab two!