While it gets a decent score for taste, the value is not there for the money ( for those of you who care, and not just collect for the sake of showing off to the equally shallow or reselling profiteers)
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 (reviews of Number 7, Number 8 , and Number 9 ) the new Larceny Bourbon (an extension/expression from the Old Fitzgerald line), and The Bernheim Wheat Whisky
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. Some other lines of bourbons they produce are the Evan Williams line and the Evan Williams Single Barrel Vintage series they have released every year ( 2000 Vintage, 2003 Vintage and the New Make Series of unaged distillate (Rye and Corn), This the 23 year old follows on from the previous releases of a 20 Year Old and of the 21 Year Old Version . 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 briquets.
This is a bottle from Barrel Number 26. Barreled on 2/26 1990
Appearance: Burnished copper gold/light amber, pale in the glass but a lovely red color – a sign of extended aging) in the bottle. On swirling leaves an even oily coat on the glass with the menaces line slowly receding and forming the occasional tear with legs, rather unusual ( but characteristic of a long aged spirit.)
First Impression: Intoxicating very hopeful smells of dark dried fruits, vanilla, toffees, ghee butter, wood, leather, marzipan and oaky notes all wrapped in a subtle, spicy bouquet.
Taste: For all that about the bouquet it does not match up as well as one would hope…
Entry is oily and somewhat thick with a nice weight to it with a buttery feel that rapidly becomes rather drying and the spiciness gets rapidly overwhelmed by the drying and woodiness of the spirit. While it is quite smooth it exhibits a certain tiredness and a bit of averaging.
Drinks: No, please don’t mix it. It is best on its own and would be lost in a cocktail for the most part.
Bottle: Tastefully done clear flask shaped bottle. The paper label (dark green/olive 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 effect. the Neck wrap is dark pewter 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.
Cigar : Something mild and not overly flavorful. A good Connecticut shade wrapper no larger than a Corona or maybe a small torpedo.
Final Thoughts: I am usually a fan of the older Heaven Hill products ( and a number of the newer ones, but to a lesser extent than Buffalo Trace generally), but this one, well, I have to say I think they left it a little too long in the barrel in the quest for a 23 year Old ( possibly because of the Van Winkle 23 being such a ‘IT’ bourbon ?). I find it a bit long in the tooth and personally not to my taste sad to say….
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.