Heaven Hill puts out some great products, also a few that aren't so great (...like Mellow Corn), but there's some real jewels in their overall lineup like Old Fitzgerald, Parkers Heritage and Elijah Craig to name but a few. A brand that many Bourboneurs may not have heard of within the Heaven Hill family of offerings is William Heavenhill, now getting ready to release its tenth edition with its first original bottling having been released back in 2008.
For having a brand and distillery named after the man, he's not the most notably documented fellow in the annals of history. William Heavenhill was an early owner of the property on which the current Heaven Hill distillery is located. At the time, he made corn whiskey which in the early 1800's was distributed to the historic Talbott Tavern in Bardstown, Kentucky which you can still visit today. This old tavern has seen a lot and endured through the years, which is a remarkable feat given it was heavily impacted by a fire which nearly destroyed the building a few decades ago. Born in 1783, William Heavenhill came into this world in a most interesting and dramatic way. Purportedly, whilst his mother was in labor there was an Indian attack on the property and his family was busy fighting off the attack whilst he was being born. How the name "Heavenhill" became two words as is now associated with the brand includes some historical nuance. When submitting some paperwork to state officials, there was a typo, noting "Heaven Hill" instead of "Heavenhill." Given a cost of ten dollars at the time to fix the mistake, it was simply decided to forgo attempting to fix it given the cost and inconvenience and so the misspelling remained.
Below is a full table that catalogues not only the detailed release information, but the current Bourbon Blue Book™ pricing (current as of today...these values get updated weekly). There's already a handful of the 10th editions floating around on the secondary, so a price has already been set there. Interestingly, the first two editions of the series are in white labeled bottles and are often referred to as the "ghost editions." Fitting reference given today is Halloween.
Bourbon Blue Book™ Data continually updated, accurate as of 31 October, 2023
The overall line of William Heavenhill bourbons is somewhat unique as you're not going to ever find it out in the wild at some store - it tends to be a Heaven Hill gift shop only release. Is it worth the price you'll pay to acquire? I would probably suggest there are far cheaper bottles on my garage bar shelves that drink better, and one is simply paying for a "rare and limited" bottle. All that to say that it's still a good pour, just not one I'm spending north of five hundred bucks on since my chances of landing this at the gift shop are next to none.
It felt incomplete to not mention a little bit about the distillery, so here's a couple quickfire facts that I think are fairly astounding. Heaven Hill's Bernheim Distillery which is found in downtown Louisville is the world's largest independent, family-owned distillery. At this location they produce nearly one thousand three hundred barrels of bourbon a day. It shouldn't be a surprise based on the volume of bourbon Heaven Hill is producing (which is by all accounts a boat load of bourbon), that Heaven Hill is the fifth-largest supplier of spirits in the United States. The company has diversified over the years now also supplying liqueurs, vodkas, rums and other spirits. Lastly, Heaven Hill has the second largest inventory of aging whiskey in the world with a current inventory of barrels standing at around one million six hundred thousand...and counting. Just to put that in perspective, with a bourbon barrel holding approximately 53 gallons that would be nearly 85 million gallons in sum (prior to the angels getting their share) which equates to the same volume of filling just over 170 Olympic sized pools with brownwater. Cannonball!!!!
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Bourboneur Glencairn Glass