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Bottom-Shelf Bourbon Brackets 2017: Round 1: Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond vs. Kentucky Tavern

Posted on by Eric Burke

Round 1a of the 2017 Bottom Shelf Bourbon Brackets features Number 1 overall seed Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond versus Number 4 seed Kentucky Tavern. 

Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond is a product of, wait for it, Heaven Hill Brands. Since this is the only age-stated bourbon in this year’s competition, this six-year-old product gets the top seed. This brand is virtually a Kentucky-only product. I have heard rumors of it being sold in other markets, but they are few and far between. Being a bottled-in-bond product, this is 100 proof. 

Kentucky Tavern is a product of the Sazerac company. It is a three-year-old, 80 proof straight bourbon. From what I gather, this is produced at the 1792 Barton Distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky even though the label says that it is produced by Glenmore (another dba that Sazerac uses). 

These were tasted blind in the following order. My thoughts on each are from before the reveal.

Kentucky Tavern

Purchase Info: $17.99 for a 1.75 L bottle at Chicone’s Liquor Mart, Hudson, WI

Details: 40% ABV, 36 month age statement.

Produced by: Glenmore Distillery (Sazerac)

Nose: Delicate with dried grass, light cinnamon, and faint vanilla.

Mouth: Light and effervescent. Sweet grains, cinnamon, and light citrus. 

Finish: Short. Muted and grainy with some cinnamon.

Pre-Reveal Thoughts: This is an ok bourbon. Not anything a connoisseur would want but might be a nice introductory bourbon for the novice due to a lack of strong or off-putting flavors and lack of burn.

Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond

Purchase Info: $10.99 for a 750 mL bottle at The Party Source, Bellevue, KY

Details: 50% ABV, 6 year age statement

Produced by: Heaven Hill Brands

Nose: Brown sugar, vanilla, cherry, and tobacco.

Mouth: Warm and peppery with leather, cherry, chocolate and oak.

Finish: Long and warm with lingering leather and oak.

Pre-Reveal Thoughts: This is a bourbon-lover’s bourbon. Very tasty and complex enough to drink neat.

Who wins?

This was an unfair matchup to begin with. These bourbons are not even targeted at the same market. That said they both meet all the qualifications that I set for “bottom-shelf” back when I started this annual competition. So, as you might have guessed, the seeding worked. Number 1 seed overall, Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond is the winner and advances to round two where it will compete against the winner of the matchup between Beam Bonded and Beam Black.


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