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Heaven Hill 27-Year-Old Barrel Proof Small Batch

Posted on by Eric Burke

Apologies for the delay on this post, paying work had me up until midnight last night and didn't leave much time for writing. Thanks for understanding.

I state in my Statement of Ethics that if I accept a review sample, I will disclose it at the beginning of the article. I’d like to thank Heaven Hill for providing this sample to me with no strings attached. As always, all thoughts are just my opinion and should be taken as just that.

My daughter is in her mid-twenties (or as I like to tease her, almost thirty). She moved back home to save up money and doesn't really have too many bills, so it wasn't too much of a surprise when she came to us a few months back and said she was going to be traveling across the country to visit a friend for his wedding.

What was a little surprising was that she was buying a camera for the trip. She's not a gadget person, and I just assumed that, like most of the population, her smartphone was going to double as her camera. What was even more surprising was her choice of camera.

Yesterday the camera arrived, and last night she tried it out using the dog as her model. I was working in my office when I heard the familiar "clickclick...whirrrr" of an old-style Polaroid camera come from the hall.  Shortly after, she came bouncing into my office to show me that her new toy had arrived. Not usually being the bubbly type, it was unusual to see this much excitement from her. It turns out that my daughter has a bit of a hipster streak to her and bought a brand-new Polaroid-style instant camera to take on her trip.

I was shocked. I've been practicing photography for decades now. I remember when I was helping on studio photoshoots and the pros would have Polaroid backs on their medium-format cameras to preview a photo set-up because that was the only way to make sure everything was set-up correctly. It was a pain, and I was delighted when digital workflows made that unnecessary. Little did I know that my daughter is not alone in her desire for an expensive and low-quality image. There are so many people in the market for this old-style type of camera that I was able to find websites that reviewed and ranked all the currently available choices on the market. Having lived through it because I had to, I'm confused by the desire of people to, voluntarily pay that much for a single image.

But I am also smart enough to know that sometimes the things that excite one person are not the same things that excite everybody else. Take tonight's whiskey for instance. Heaven Hill 27-Year-Old Barrel Proof Small Batch is not only a mouthful of a name but is also the oldest bourbon I've personally ever tasted. I'm on record as being a fan of bourbons that fall in the 6- to 12-year-old range. And even then, I sometimes feel that the higher end of that has a reasonable possibility of having too much oak presence for my palate. But far be it from me to yuck someone else's yum.

The bourbon itself is a batch of 41 barrels that were distilled between 1989 and 1990 at the Old Heaven Hill Springs Distillery in Bardstown. That distillery famously burned down in 1996. I'm going to go out on a limb and say that there is comparatively little of this juice remaining and that much of what is still around tastes more than a bit like you are sucking on an old log. Heaven Hill backs up that assumption by saying that only those 41 barrels passed their taste test. And that those 41 barrels only had enough liquid in them to allow the release of 3000 bottles at barrel proof.

That's right barrel-proof. But before you proof-chasers get all worked up, remember that this barrel proof is only 94.7° proof. One of the reasons this was able to last for a minimum of 27 years was that most of the barrels aged on low floors where the proof actually dropped while in the barrel.

But now we come to the moment of truth, how does it taste?

Heaven Hill 27-Year-Old Barrel Proof Small Batch

Purchase Info: This sample was generously sent to me by the distillery at no charge. The suggested retail price is $399.

Details: Aged 27 years. 47.35% ABV. Pre-fire Heaven Hill distilled.

Nose: Floral spice with a slightly astringent note greet you upon pouring. After a bit of time in the glass, soft vanilla and red fruits appear as well.

Mouth: Soft in the mouth. You could easily hold this in your mouth for minutes. Notes of floral oak and vanilla predominate.

Finish: Medium length with a strong floral oak presence.

 IMAGE: a hand-drawn smiley face

Thoughts: I like this, though not as much as others will. It is very, very, far out of my price range, but it also has a much more prominent oak presence than I prefer. Because of that, I'm going to let my wife, who is a fan of old and oaky bourbons take over from here.

"If given this blind, I would have guessed it was in the late teens, maybe low twenties in age. Honestly, before I tasted it, I was expecting it to be an oak bomb. There is a lot of oak, but I don't think it is too much. This is a good bourbon for those who love older bourbons and are lucky enough to have both the means and opportunity to buy it. The floral notes remind me of some of the old dusties we've found. I love it."


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Elijah Craig: Cox's and Evergreen Hand Selected

Posted on by Eric Burke

Last week I was on a family vacation to the Outer Banks area of North Carolina. As we drove home, I was able to finagle an evening in Louisville, one of my favorite cities to visit. Which reminded me that I should probably get around to talking about a bottle that I picked up on my last trip to Louisville back in May. 

It was on that May trip that I remembered that there was such a thing as a private selection of Elijah Craig Small Batch. Well, one that wasn't the Barrel Proof version, that is. I was sitting at the bar of the Silver Dollar having a drink with one friend while waiting to have supper with another. My friend and I both ordered one of their private picks of Elijah Craig, erroneously thinking it was the barrel proof version of the product. It was not. 

It was, however, delicious. Which meant that when I hit up all my favorite stores to do a little whiskey shopping, I needed to keep my eye out for it. And I found it at a store that had been recommended to me by a reader called Evergreen Liquors. It was only my second stop there, but I had really enjoyed the private picks I'd picked up there the September before. And so with those two thoughts in my head, I picked up tonight's bottle. 

Elijah Craig: Cox's and Evergreen Hand Selected

Purchase Info: $29.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Evergreen Liquors, Louisville, KY

Details: 47% ABV

Nose: Worn leather, cotton candy, vanilla, and nutmeg

Mouth: Nice and spicy. Sweet with a good hit of baking spices and vanilla with fleeting hints of fruit.

Finish: On the longer side of medium with lingering notes of oak tannins, mint, and sweet fruits.

 IMAGE: a hand drawn smiley face

Thoughts: This is a very good selection from a store where I've been happy with previous picks I've purchased from them. Two data points are not yet a trend, but it might be a trend forming.

Compared to the standard release, this bottle is spicier in the mouth with a warmer and oakier finish. The noses are very similar. 


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1792 Sweet Wheat Bourbon

Posted on by Eric Burke

Ever talked to a person that likes wheated bourbons? You'd know it if you had because if the subject turns to bourbon, they will invariably tell you that they prefer "wheaters." There are entire swaths of the whiskey internet singing the praises of wheated bourbons as if they were the second coming of sliced bread.

Typical bourbon is made from a mash of at least 51% corn with a combination of rye and malted barley making up the remainder. So what is a "wheated" bourbon? Quite simply it is a bourbon made where they substitute wheat for the rye. 

I'm going to let you in on a little secret though: I don't usually like a bourbon just because it has wheat in the recipe. In fact, it is quite often just the opposite. I find that most wheated bourbons have a slightly dusty bitter note on the finish that I just don't prefer. It can be subtle or quite noticeable depending on the age of the bourbon in question. 

In the end, though, it is all personal preference. There are plenty of wheated bourbons that hit my shelf. I tend to leave them for my wife because she loves wheaters while I am mostly indifferent to them. 

1792 Sweet Wheat

Purchase Info: $31.99 for a 750 mL bottle at Total Wine, Burnsville, MN

Details: 45.6% ABV

Nose: Caramel, melon, mint and a light spice.

Mouth: Cinnamon spice, caramel, and mint.

Finish: Warm and dry with nice cinnamon notes. As with most wheated bourbons, I'm finding a slight dusty bitterness to the finish.

 IMAGE: a hand drawn smiley face

Thoughts: I like this one. That said, it's probably my least favorite of the 1792 limited edition releases. But that says more about how good the others were than it does about the quality of this one. Still, I'll probably leave the rest of the bottle for my wife. I'm a nice guy that way.


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Stubbees Bourbon Infused Honey

Posted on by Eric Burke

Unless you just stumbled onto the site, and this is your first time reading one of my posts, it is safe to assume that you know I have a fondness for bourbon. What you may not know is that I also have a fondness for honey. I love honey. It is by far my favorite sweetener. 

I've preferred honey to sugar my entire life. I used to love to put honey on my Cheerios and corn flakes as a child. When I was old enough to understand that it was acceptable to put honey into tea, I became a tea drinker at an age when most of my friends were chugging Mountain Dew. 

As I grew up and learned that much of the honey that was available for purchase in grocery stores had been adulterated in some way, mostly by adding additional sweeteners to the honey, I became a bit more choosy in my honey purchasing. These days I only purchase honey from producers I trust. Both locally and online. 

So when you combine my love of bourbon with my love of honey, it is no wonder that my interest was piqued when a press release for a bourbon-infused honey came across my desk from Stubbees Honey in Jacksonville Florida. Now I've often seen honey-flavored bourbon announcements come across my desk—many of them with little or no actual bourbon or honey in them—but I had never seen a boubon-infused honey before. So I did a little digging. 

Stubbees sources US-produced, organic, raw honey "only from hives located at nature preserves and farms that are free of pesticides." This is great as it supports both US beekeepers as well as keeping the hives healthier since the bees aren't ingesting pesticides. Based on the research, I decided to order a bottle from their website. It was $22 for a 12-ounce bottle. More than I normally pay for honey, but what the heck. If it really tasted of bourbon, it would be something fun to try.

When I first opened the bottle I was amazed at the boozy note coming from within. It was like a big, boozy barrel-aged beer. Sweet, but with a definite vinous note underneath. That note carried over to the mouth but transitioned into something much more in-line with bourbon notes. It has a good honey flavor that pairs really well with the bourbon notes. I really like this. 

And while I could probably just sit and eat honey by the spoonfuls, I decided to give this a little bit more of a thorough taste test. In the label, it claims that it is great in meat glaze or cocktails. So of course, the first thing I put it in was a cocktail or two. My wife loves the occasional Mint Julep so I surprised her with one sweetened with this honey. It received rave reviews. It did similarly well in other cocktails I tried it in. Where it blew my mind though was in a breakfast sandwich. I cooked some home-cured and smoked bacon that I had received from a family friend, placed that on a freshly baked biscuit along with this honey and a little cheese. Wooohhh momma! Was that ever good! that sandwich was worth the purchase price right there.

If you get a chance, and you are as big of a honey fan as I am, consider picking up a bottle.


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Limestone Branch Experimental Collection Bourbon

Posted on by Eric Burke

One of the things that I think that small distilleries have brought to the whiskey world is a willingness to experiment. To find different flavor profiles and to bring them to the world. They almost have to. If you are making the same style of whiskey as the big guys and don't have their economies of scale, they will beat you on price every time. But if you are offering something different, then maybe you can more easily convince people that your product is worth spending a little extra to support. 

Tonight's whiskey comes from a small distillery that has been putting out some fantastic bourbon under the Yellowstone and Minor Case brands. Almost all of that whiskey was sourced, though the latest Yellowstone did contain a bit of their whiskey as well. So though I knew they had good palates, I wasn't exactly sure how their in-house bourbon would taste. 

So when I saw that there were three young single barrel "Experimental Collection" bourbons from Limestone Branch at Total Wine in Kentucky, I felt like I needed to pick them up. To be honest, I didn't know what to expect. Would it be a familiar flavor profile? Something completely different? I didn't know, but I did know Steve Beam, and I also knew he's good at what he does. So I pulled the trigger. 

Limestone Branch Experimental Collection Bourbon

Purchase Info: $22.99 for a 375 mL bottle at Total Wine, Louisville, KY

Details: 47.5% ABV. Single Barrel. Barrel 11. Mash bill: 75% corn, 13% rye, 12% malt. Barrel Entry ABV: 54.57%. Barrel Char level 3. Aged 24 months.

Nose: Smells young. Wet coffee grounds and old lumber.

Mouth: Nice spice. Orange slice jelly candies, bitter almond, anise, and a fair dose of charcoal.

Finish: Medium length. Citrus and almond fade to reveal the dried grains used in its creation as well as a menthol mintiness.

 IMAGE: A hand-drawn Smiley face

Thoughts: On my first try of this whiskey, I was not a fan. As I've spent a little more time with it, I've started to come around. I think this was just so different that, initially, I was thrown off a bit. Yes, this is young. And yes, you can tell from teh nose and the taste. But it doesn't taste bad, as many young whiskeys can. It's just really different. It doesn't taste grainy until the end of the finish. I kinda like it. Is it my favorite thing on the shelf? No. But I'm glad to have picked it up and help support (and taste) a bit of experimentation. 


BourbonGuy.com accepts no advertising. It is solely supported by the sale of the hand-made products I sell at the BourbonGuy Gifts Etsy store. If you'd like to support BourbonGuy.com, visit BourbonGuyGifts.com. Thanks!