The Heaven Hill Heritage Collection officially launched last year in 2022 and now has two bottlings under foot that highlight the distilleries ultra-aged whiskies. I have to admit that I was a little confused initially as I mistakenly had thought they were on their fourth edition, but alas, I was wrong. The confusion comes from the labeling, which bears a striking resemblance to their 2018 release of a 27-year-old Kentucky straight bourbon, and their 2020 release of a special 85th Anniversary bottling (a thirteen-year-old whiskey). Although not a part of the "collection" these bottlings apparently served as inspiration to the official launch last year. Below we dig in to these two very unique expressions which I'd argue need to be on everyone's "whiskey wish list."
Released in the Spring of 2022, Heaven Hill's 17-Year-Old Barrel Proof Bourbon is the first edition of the Heaven Hill Heritage Collection. The first edition features Heaven Hill’s Bourbon mashbill comprised of 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley, and bottled at a barrel proof of 118.2. With an age statement of 17 years, this release is made up of 28% 20-year-old barrels, 44% 19-year-old barrels, and 28% 17-year-old barrels pulled from Deatsville, Glencoe, Schenley, and Heaven Hill main campus warehouse locations.
The 17-year-old dram certainly shows its age on the tongue, highlighting the typical oaky and leathery notes you might expect for having slept nearly two decades in the wood. What you may not expect however is that for being barrel proof, this particular dram drinks at a much lower proof than you would expect and has a richness of flavor, particularly expounding on a variety of sweeter notes that complement the earthiness of the pour quite well.
Released in March of 2023, this edition features Heaven Hill’s Corn Whiskey mashbill, comprised of 80% corn, 12% malted barley and 8% rye. Bottled at 115 proof and with an age statement of 20 years, this release is made up entirely of 110 barrels produced in October 2002. The barrels were pulled from the third floor of rickhouse 1K, one of the brick rickhouses located on the Bernheim Distillery campus in Louisville, Kentucky.
This in some respects is simply a high aged version of Heaven Hill's Mellow Corn Bottled in Bond value brand, which you can find on the bottom shelf in many liquor stores and gas stations for $15 or so a bottle. Given the extra aging, expect a lot more oak characteristics born out in the flavor profile - shocker right - but, paired with the high corn mashbill, it's an experience that is likely quite unique to many of our readers and may have you thinking a little differently about bourbon's kissing cousin, corn whiskey.
The answer is technically yes. Bourbon as you may recall by law is required to have a mashbill that is at least fifty percent corn and be aged in new charred oak barrels. Corn whiskey has a mashbill that exceeds eighty percent and is placed in used or uncharred barrels for aging. The use of used or uncharred barrels is what separates corn whiskey from bourbon - but - let's be honest, there's some shades of gray in there.
Well, it's not pretty folks. Which shouldn't necessarily be surprising, as when one is hunting unicorns it often takes either great connections or some disposable income. In reviewing the Bourbon Blue Book, with the 17 Year bottle being on the market for some time, pricing has leveled out and you can expect it to set you back nearly a grand on the secondary. The 20-year bottling having just come out, we're still seeing some market convergence occurring around a specific price point. Below we depict the current downward pricing pressure since the release and as you can tell it doesn't appear we've hit a bottom, but I don't expect we'll see significant drops from here.
You may be surprised to hear that Heaven Hill has nearly two million barrels of whiskey resting across six rickhouse sites that have around 55 rickhouses in total.
Have you had one of these pours? Put your thoughts in the comments and share with other Bourboneurs. Not a Bourboneur yet? Navigate back to our blog page and sign up for our weekly email by clicking here. While you're there poke around and find all you need to know (and then some) about popular bourbon brands, bourbon knowledge and more. Be sure to follow us on Instagram and Facebook for updates, contests, and special bourbon features.
4' Lighted Bar Shelf (set of 2)