Tag Archive: Heaven Hill


Heaven Hill: Parker’s Heritage Barrel Finished in Orange Curacao (USA: Bourbon Whiskey: 55% ABV)

Visual: Deep gold. Fast thick streaks followed by thin puckering.

Nose: Peppery. Subtle orange sweetness and orange skins. Orange liqueur. Washing up liquid. Dust. Water brings out mint leaves and peppermint.

Body: Smooth and thick. Peppery. Treacle. Strong alcohol. Menthol. Mint leaves. Water adds rye crackers and cocktail bitters.

Finish: Orange liqueur. Menthol. Peppermint. Peppery. Shreddies. Mint leaves. Water adds aniseed and cocktail bitters.

Conclusion: You know, I expected this to be more orangey. I mean, I’m not going to lie, there is a very reasonable amount of orange going on, but what actually stands out from it is something completely different – a strange minty character. I did not see that one coming.

So, before we get too deep into that, let’s look at the base. This rocks the peppery, solid, possibly a touch rye backed bourbon style (google tells me about 10% rye, makes sense). As a bourbon it is solid but unexceptional.

If you look behind the bourbon notes you then find the subtle orange, mixed with cocktail bitters, all which make for understated but highly unusual notes for this odd bourbon. It feels slightly closed and dusty as well, over a thick and slightly treacle feel, yet also somehow smooth body,

Then, as mentioned and you knew I was going to come back to this, we have those minty notes – an oddly vegetable meets fresh peppermint to savoury green leaves style thing. It is all interesting, all unusual, all makes me take my time and examine it, and all makes it one I would not really return to after. It could be a good character elsewhere, but the savoury vegetable like elements of it really stick here.

I mean, it is a fascinating mix that takes a standard bourbon and spins something very different out and makes it interesting – but for the price I need more than interesting. Glad I tried, would not try again.

Background: Uber whisky time again at Independent Spirit. I love these events, where you get to try some pretty rare whisky that would normally be prohibitively expensive by the dram. As always with events like these, it was a busy event, with talking and other people describing notes so I may have been influenced by that and my notes may be shorter and more incoherent than even normal. Oddly I thought bourbon had to be entitrely aged in fresh oak, but this is listed as bourbon and is finished in Orange Curacao cask, so I may be wrong. Anyway, this have been made in memory of the deceased master distiller Parker Beam and is the 12th edition of their releases under that name, each with a different take. I think some money from each bottle sold goes to a charity linked with how the master distiller passed away, but I’ve been having a hard time finding out exactly which charity by googling. Let me know if you know please.

Heaven Hill: Mellow Corn (USA: Straight Corn Whiskey: 50% ABV)

Visual: Clear gold. Thick fast streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Vanilla. Buttery popcorn. Gentle alcohol presence. Soft lime. Shredded Wheat. Slight caramel.

Body: Alcohol warmth. Shredded Wheat. Toffee. Vanilla. Lime. Water smooths the alcohol. Crumpets. Soft apple and honey come out.

Finish: Honey. Shredded wheat. Pepper. Alcohol air. Lime. Water adds crumpets and soft apple.

Conclusion: Ok, let’s get this out of the way first. This is fairly simple. It has a fairly basic set of flavour notes, and it shows the same notes from the aroma through to the finish. This is not a whiskey to use for close examination, attempts to dissect and analyse, or even one to do an overly long set of tasting notes on.

So, does that mean it is bad? Fuck no.

It is a really a stripped down smooth version of what people first think of when they think American whiskey. It has the vanilla, the caramel, the cereal notes and – on the outer edges of expectations, a light peppery note. The notes are clear, bright and, especially considering it is 50% abv – fairly easy to drink.

There is a slight alcohol burn, but if that worries you, a little water helps get rid of that, and it just makes all the other flavours even more clear. Even more than that the water adds just the slightest crumpet style savoury note and pushes the lime touch just slightly stronger – just a few tiny rounding notes that is all this needed to be solidly satisfying.

Its main strength is that it is so easy to drink – yet feels like it has a slight weight behind it, like a weightier take on the Irish whiskey style – it is smooth, but nowhere near as light as the average Irish character. It is sweet and honeyed in that slight extra weight. It is a great one for just relaxing with and completely different to what I usually enjoy. Simple and stripped down, normally that would put me off, but is is so enjoyable that I am glad I have a bottle.

The quality whisky to have while relaxing with friends and pouring freely. Not complex, but I guess not everything has to be.

Background: Holy shit how ugly is this bottle? It looks like artificial mass produces squeeze bottle mustard. And that is the most polite description that came to mind. However, I’ve never tried a straight corn whiskey before, and the more I find out about American whiskey, the more I realise there is a huge range there I have only started to tap. So I grabbed a bottle from independent Spirit to give it a go. Expected some fun, party times when drinking, so put on Andrew W.K. – I Get Wet. Time to PARTY HARD!

Heaven Hill : Rittenhouse: Straight Rye Whisky Bottled-In-Bond (USA: Rye Whisky: 50% ABV)

Visual: Bronze to amber. Fast thick streaks come from the spirit.

Nose: Vanilla. Peppery. Rye crackers. Honey. Orange zest. Light menthol and mint leaves. Orange fruit sugars. Water keeps similar but more water adds apples.

Body: Mead. Thick. Golden syrup. Pepper. Brown bread. Syrup cake. Slight cough syrup. Water makes more menthol. Pears. Soft apricot. Vanilla. Peppercorn.

Finish: Peppery. Vanilla. Brown bread. Vanilla yogurt. Light menthol. Water adds more menthol.

Conclusion: Right, I’m never sure if American whiskey – be it bourbon, rye, corn or whatever – should have water added to it. I know the stereotype is with ice but I’ve never taken to that. What I do know though is that for this one, with and without water is a heck of a different experience.

Neat it feels like the platonic ideal of a rye whiskey in my (admittedly comparatively limited) experience. It is peppery and spicy over a sweet, syrupy base that makes it heavy and thick. Even taking into account the 50% abv this can take a metric wodge of water and still feel thick and syrupy on the tongue. It is a heavy, rustic, thick, peppery and just plain rye biscuit tasting whiskey.

Water, well, first comes out the menthol notes. Initially this is a drawback as combined with the thickness of the texture you get a kind of sickly cough syrup taste. This is but a stepping stone though, keep adding water you get past that, warning, it takes more water than you would think.

With that huge amount of water you finally get green fruit added into the menthol – lighter notes, still against the pepper spice, but hear a more revealing and subtly fruity whiskey rather than the sheer rye assault.

Neat it is the rye beast, water makes slightly too menthol, but with enough water it does have a rewardingly fruity spirit to go with the peppery rye even if it doesn’t 100% work like that. Still, this is a whiskey about the rye and going for that I have to say it does that bloody well.

Background: Since my mind has been expanded recently on the breakdown of American whiskey styles, including exactly what constituents a bourbon and what doesn’t, which I find I have been getting wrong for a while, I wanted to dance back into the American whiskey again, and I decided to go with the rye. Grabbed at Independent Spirit after having sampled a few ryes, this was drunk while listening to Guns and Roses – Appetite for Destruction. It just felt right.

Elijah Craig 12 Year

Elijah Craig: 12 Year (USA Bourbon: 12 Year: 47% ABV)

Visual: Bronzed gold.

Viscosity: Fast medium thickness streaks.

Nose: Honey. Rye crackers. Soft vanilla. Paprika. Water makes more heather and floral.

Body: Very smooth. Vanilla toffee. Rye crackers. Shredded wheat. Pepper. Honey. Orange crème. Sugared pastries. Beef slices. Water loses some subtlety but adds to the honey bringing out golden syrup.

Finish: Rye crackers. Honey. Orange juice touch. Water sweetens the orange and brings out pepper and a treacle touch.

Conclusion: This is some smooth bourbon – at 47% abv I was expecting at least some kick, but even neat it went down easily. It was warming but completely burn free. Nice.

The flavours are well within what I am used to for bourbon – a taste like honey drenched through shredded wheat backed by vanilla toffee coated rye bread. However, it is nicer than that imagery would suggest. I am aware that toffee coated rye bread would probably taste horrible in real life. Then again, pocky is basically chocolate covered breadsticks and they are addictive as hell, so who knows. Anyway, I digress.

This does have some extra notes, some sweet orange and a slightly dried beef character that I would normally associate with peated whisky – but generally it falls within the expected range of notes, just done very well and easy going.

Some of the lack of variance could be attributed to the fact that I am not as experienced with bourbon as I am with whisky, so I may just be getting the more evident characteristics and not the subtleties – especially considering that I am working with a smaller sample here. Which isn’t a complaint by the way, just an explanation – getting to try all these is awesome.

Anyway. I just checked out the price point on this and at a bourbon in the thirty to forty quid range this is doing very well. Very easy drinking and far smoother than most I encounter in that range.

A nice, well delivered, easy drinking bourbon.

Background: Huh, you don’t see aged bourbon much – usually, as they have to use fresh casks each time, they spend far less time in the wood. Ok, copy paste time again. ” Ok, bias warning first: This is a part of the Whisky Calendar given to The Bath Whisky and Rum Club, part of Independent Spirit, who invited me to assist with the notes in return for uploading them to alcohol and aphorisms. Sounded a very fair deal to me. Also, due to this we each only had half of the 3cl bottle so thoughts are based on a smaller exploration than usual. On the other hand I could not say no to the chance to try so many new whiskies. Many thanks!” I think that covers it. Was listening to Crossfaith – just saw them live and they are fucking awesome.

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