If you can find this buy it, and drink it. Even mix it for a whole new level of cocktail pleasure.
Notes: Heaven Hill is a distillery with a relatively long history with quite a few bourbons in it’s portfolio, a number of them dating back to the beginning of the company, but a number of exciting new bourbons and special editions of their older lines are generating a lot of interest (and new respect) in the bourbon community. Some of the most notable of the new series are the limited editions of the Parker Heritage Series (the 2009 is reviewed here), and the newest one is reviewed here) the new Larceny Bourbon (an extension/expression from the Old Fitzgerald line)
Their other bourbons include of course the Heaven Hill series, the Elijah Craig 12 ( IMHO one of the perennial best buys in a bourbon) and the Elijah Craig 18 Year Old. This the 21 year old follows on from the release of the 20 Year Old Version last year. This is one of their high rye barrels from some of their best warehouses, and from the middle of the warehouse ( guess you could call it the sweet spot) which allows the whiskey to reach this level of extended aging without collapsing into tasting like a tired charcoal briquet.
Appearance: Beautiful red orange (sign of an older whiskey)On swirling it leaves a medium coat on the glass with lots of very thin long legs forming after a few seconds
First Impression: Spicy sweet and sour of rye with vanilla,oak char, leather and hints of dried fruits.Starts to sweeten up after about 30 seconds or so, developing sweet caramelized nut notes
Taste: Lovely spicy rye entry balanced by the sweetness of corn, backstopped ( but not overwhelmed ) by a large but balanced dose of American Oak char, with tamari almondy notes providing a lovely balance and mellowing to what must have been a real spice bomb of a white whiskey 21 years ago. Finish is long,and delightfully lingering and aromatic leaving one wistful and sated at the same time ( like all wonderful experiences ).
Drinks: Makes for a Manhattan that could be better than sex – ( depending on a number of factors I will not get into here).Using Carpano Antica, a dash of Fees Whiskey Barrel Aged Bitters, dash of Fees Walnut Bitters and a lemon zest garnish, slowly stirred to perfection it was, well as much fun as you could treat yourself to clothed at least. Standing up surprisingly well ( and better than many double digit aged bourbons) in mixing
Bottle: Tastefully done clear flask shaped bottle. The paper label (deep blue center with border of not sure what really) and silkscreened tracery on the bottle like good lingerie, enhance and accentuate the beauty of the whiskey to excellent effec. the Neck wrap is blue and autumnal gold brown reflecting the label and the color of the whiskey and wraps around the stopper which ( thankfully) using a traditional natural cork, which like the sound of a zipper opening, has a unmistakable and distinctive sound that should generate a Pavlovian response on most whiskey connoisseurs.
Cigars: A nice rich maduro such as a Hemingway Signature or possibly a Patron robusto or torpedo.
Other: A serious contender as one of the ultimate bourbons out there and still available for purchase by mere mortals. Buy it now, and don’t be a dick – drink it and enjoy it, don’t stash it away to show off – it is a crime to not drink good whiskey.
Final Thoughts: I have been very back and forth over the price point and valuation these past couple of days. Is it frankly twice as good as the Eagle Rare 17 year old that sells for about $75 a bottle ? No, Not really, but is it a steal compared to a Pappy 23 Year Old at $500 ? Yes, definitely! So while not a terrific deal, it is still an outstanding whiskey, and compared to almost any 21 year old or thereabouts single malt Scotch, one hell of a deal…. so…..
The main distillery website, it also has their plethora of other brands they either make of import also. A fairly informative site b industry standards, it does not have as much depth of information on their American Whiskies as the site below does – but offers a great overview of everything they are involved in.
The more specific webpage for their higher end America Whiskey portfolio with a good amount of information, photos and recipes. If you become a member of the Bardstown Whiskey Society ( recommended) you unlock a lot more information and benefits from joining.