This is the second batch of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (ECBP) released by Heaven Hill. This particular batch was bottled at 68.5% ABV.
Nose: Heavy, musty oak up front – brown sugar, caramel, vanilla, and a little cinnamon.
Palate: Oaky up front turning mostly sweet with brown sugar, maple, and creme brulee.
Finish: Short and mostly dry with oak. The sweeter elements fade very rapidly.
Rating: 89/100 – Reminds me a bit of George T. Stagg to a degree with less leather. I’ve noticed this bottle in particular improved a lot after being open a couple months.
Value for the money: These usually retail around $55 and are somewhat rare. I think it’s a fantastic buy at that price.
This is a gift shop release from Heaven Hill that is an 11 year old bourbon bottled at 50% ABV.
Nose: Very fruity and sweet – doesn’t fall in line with my typical expectation for a Heaven Hill nose. Cinnamon, french vanilla, cantaloupe, and black cherries.
Palate: Grainy up front with rich corn oils and baking spices. Becomes peppery with oak toward the back.
Finish: Dry but rich and long with cinnamon and black pepper crusted oak.
Rating: 91/100 – One of my favorite Heaven Hill expressions, and it was my favorite of the gift shop release tasting at the Bourbon Heritage Center which included this, the William Heaven Hill Cask Strength, Evan Williams 23, and Heaven Hill Select Stock.
Value for the money: This was around $125 at the giftshop which is maybe a bit high, but pretty close to fair I think.
This was the third release in the Parker’s Heritage Collection (PHC) series. It was a blend of whiskies over 5 decades to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Park Beam as master distiller. It’s bottled at 50% ABV.
Nose: Vanilla beans, corn mash, freshly sawn oak, and french toast.
Palate: Lots of oak and quite tannic. Not as sweet as the nose let on and a bit flat overall. Almost seems a bit oxidized.
Finish: Pepper, buttery oak, slightly bitter, fades fairly rapidly.
Rating: 80/100 – Not bad, but lacking on the palate.
Value for the money: This retailed for $150 originally and now goes for $800+. An easy pass for me at either price.
This is the fourth release from the Parker’s Heritage Collection (PHC) series. This was a 10 year wheated bourbon bottled at 63.9% ABV.
Nose: Very strong wheat up front. Turns even sweeter once you get past wheat with birthday cake, honey, vanilla, and some oak/anise.
Palate: Super sweet up front- brown sugar and wheat are dominant. Oak develops quickly and is much stronger than I’d expect for a 10 year.
Finish: Long with lots of wheat and oak with a bit of cocoa.
Rating: 94/100 – Everything you’d look for in a wheater pretty much.
Value for the money: These will run you $700+ on the secondary, and I can’t recommend it at that despite how good it is.
This is a 15 year expression from Heaven Hill that was finished in sherry casks for a few years and bottled at 48.9% ABV by Malts of Scotland.
Nose: Very rum like – sherry appears with mashed grapes, sour cherries, and smoke from an extinguished match.
Palate: Very bright and fruity up front – tastes much younger than 15 years. Again, quite rum-like with a lot of molasses notes.
Finish: Very dry and astringent with floral sherry notes throughout.
Rating: 84/100 – Sherry finished bourbon is strange for me since bourbon is already so sweet naturally.
Value for the money: This originally retailed around $100, but I’d prefer to see it around $80 to compete with Midwinter Night’s Dram.
This is the standard 12 year Elijah Craig from Heaven Hill, but it’s an older “pre-fire” bottle – meaning it predates the 1996 fire that destroyed the old Heaven Hill distillery.
Nose: Very different than modern EC12 – huge rye notes with loads of pepper seasoned oak. Very heavy rye notes compared to what I taste in modern EC12.
Palate: Weaker than nose, but still a lot of fresh rye bread with slightly bitter and earthy oak.
Finish: Rye spice with dry oak.
Rating: 84/100 – I like this a bit bitter than modern EC12 but it’s close.
Value for the money: These go for around $100+ on the secondary which is a bit high but not too bad given these pre-fire bottles are going to become rarer and rarer.
There were three big Rittenhouse ryes (21, 23, and 25) that were discontinued a few years back. This was distilled by Heaven Hill and bottled at 50% ABV.
Nose: Big rye with heavy floral profile and almost a bourbon like sweetness – odd in that its not as peppery/earthy as I’d expect. Buttered popcorn notes emerge after a bit.
Palate: Floral rye with sweeter oak turning to sour vanilla. Again seems to have big bourbon influence with vanilla and brown sugar notes.
Finish: Super bitter, soapy, and dominated by oak. Sadly I find the finishes on these very old ryes to be disappointing most of the time.
Rating: 85/100 – Nice strong floral notes throughout, but bad finish hampers it a bit.
Value for the money: These are selling for close to $1,000 or more on the secondary and they aren’t worth that. The world of these hyper aged ryes is an expensive one sadly. I’d pay up to $99 at retail if it were still available.
This was a Heaven Hill Gift Shop release from a year or two back. It’s a 10 year old bourbon that spent the last 2 years in a cognac cask. There have been a few releases of the HHSS, and this review is for the 69.6% ABV release.
Nose: Cinnamon and brown sugar with some red grape. Black pepper and honey atop a sweet cereal mash.
Palate: Dry, aged oak up front. Proof kicks in quickly and ramps up the heat. Nutty profile overal with a bit of an acidic edge – cognac doesn’t stand out to me distinctly.
Finish: Hot, dry oak with a bit of cinnamon
Rating: 82/100 – The cognac finish is lost a bit for me – perhaps due to the already sweet nature of bourbon. The heat is a bit overwhelming at times on this one which makes it slightly more one-dimensional.
Value for the money: This retailed for $150 originally (gift shop releases are usually criminally overpriced compared to their typical expressions). I’d be a consumer around $50-$60.
This is a restaurant barrel selection of Elijah Craig 12 (selected by now defunct restaurant Ink & Elm). It’s bottled at 46% ABV.
Nose: Strong yeast and rye bread up front, slightly muted overall but becomes a bit buttery and sweeter after a few minutes
Palate: Heavy rye/oak combo at first with a slightly pepper fresh baked bread.
Finish: As oak mellows out, rye begins to shine. Rather dry overall, but lasts a long time.
Rating: 83/100 – A solid EC12, but leaves something to be desired.
Value for the money: Since this restaurant went under, I doubt these bottles will be spotted anywhere, but I wouldn’t value it more than a regular EC12.
Parker’s Heritage Collection (PHC) is an annual release from Heaven Hill that features a unique expression every year. This expression was from 2013 and was the seventh in the series. It’s a 10 year, single barrel bottled at 48% ABV.
Nose: Wet oak and cherry up front with what I consider a classic Heaven Hill woody profile overall. Corn, vanilla, and pine sap develop after a bit.
Palate: Maraschino cherries right off the bat with the oak developing in mid palate immediately after. Quite grain forward overall with the low proof lending a bit of a watery taste overall.
Finish: Surprisingly becomes a bit hotter here with the oak becoming more intense. A bit of smoke as the sweet cherry notes fade.
Rating: 84/100 – nose is fairly great, but palate/finish come across as overoaked to me despite the young age of this year’s PHC.
Value for the money: This was $99 at retail, and I wouldn’t pay that again compared to the bourbon you can get for half that cost. I’d be happy to pay around $40 for this bourbon if I could set the price.