Heaven Hill knows how to release great limited-release whiskeys. Their Beer Barrel small keg bottles are beloved. Their annual autumn Parker’s Heritage releases are some of the most sought-after collector bottles in the game. Even their Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond releases have folks lining up to this day. Now, Heaven Hill has added another major limited release to their arsenal for whiskey lovers to swoon over, the very first Heaven Hill Heritage Collection 17-Year-Old Barrel Proof Bourbon.
The Heritage Collection is going to serve as the yearly spring drop that counterpoints Heaven Hill’s very popular fall Parker’s Heritage drops. Basically, we’re looking at one-of-a-kind bottles from the deep reaches of the Heaven Hill warehouses. The whiskeys are expertly built to bring a sense of classic bourbon to the table while maintaining the feel of an ultra-rare release.
The thing is with these rare one-offs is that they never run cheap. This bottle has an MSRP of $274.99. That’s already pretty steep. Add in that getting a bottle at that price is nearly impossible (with the secondary market snagging up allocations from liquor stores) and you have a whiskey that’s going to cost a lot, whichever way you slice it.
Instead of just reviewing this bottle and leaving it at that, we’ll also give our two cents on whether this is actually worth tracking down and dropping serious coin on. Let’s get into it.
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Heaven Hill Heritage Collection 17-Year-Old Barrel Proof Bourbon, First Edition
Average Price: $275 (MSRP)
The base of the spirit is Heaven Hill’s classic bourbon mash of 78 percent corn, 12 percent malted barley, and a mere ten percent rye. This particular whiskey is built from several barrels from four warehouse campuses in the Bardstown area. In this case, three different ages were pulled with 17 years being the youngest. The whiskey is made from 28 percent 20-year-old barrels, 44 percent 19-year-old barrels, and 28 percent 17-year-old barrels. Once those barrels are vatted, the bourbon goes into the bottle as-is, without any cutting or fussing.
The whiskey comes in a snazzy box with a soft blue and gold theme. That color scheme matches the long-neck bottle inside. Overall, the presentation is very subtle and classy, which will help this one really catch anyone’s eye from across the bar.
The age is apparent from the first nose with old glove leather next to a soft hint of cobweb-draped cellar beams leading towards a dark and thick cherry syrup that’s laced with cinnamon, clove, and allspice. The nose then grows with an almost cherry-maple syrup with a buttery base pushing it toward a toffee creaminess. The palate leans into those spices with a winter-spice-laced chewy (almost wet) fistful of tobacco leaves jammed into an old cedar box. The mid-palate bursts with spiced cherry crumble with baked brown sugar and nutmeg nuts, creating a velvety texture. The finish carries the spice from that mid-palate towards a sweet finish that feels like a marrying of toffee syrup and cherrywood tobacco with that dry cedar tobacco box echoing on the far backend.
This is pretty goddamn delicious. I think “silky” is a good adjective here. This is a bold whiskey but it’s so soft and nuanced that it drinks like soft-yet-warm-silk. I know “smooth” elicits eye rolls from the whiskey nerds, but this is shockingly easy to drink for such and old and deeply flavored whiskey. A home run for folks who appreciate that quality.
98/100 — This is nearly perfect, especially if you’re looking for a pure classic bourbon with everything both heightened and refined. It’s not taking bourbon anywhere new, but it is helping to prove the beauty that can be found in these older barrels of whiskey.
Is It Worth The Price?
If you’re a collector (and can find this at MSRP), then 100 percent yes. That said, the ship may have already sailed on getting this at MSRP. I really can’t see spending $500, $1,000, or more on this unless you’re a seasoned collector. Or money is no object.
If you’re looking for something to show off on your bar cart and actually drink, I’d also say yes. This is truly good juice. Heaven Hill’s Old Fitzgerald Bottled-in-Bond would be a good parallel if you can’t find this but want something in the same general vibe/price range.