Heaven Hill 15 (Malts of Scotland Islay Cask Finish) Review

This is a 15 year Heaven Hill from Malts of Scotland finished in an Islay cask and bottled at 53.8% ABV.

Nose: Odd – lightly muted, but can pick out some typical bourbon notes of vanilla/caramel with some dry oak and active yeast. Islay cask finish adds some burnt oak elements. A bit of green apple and rubber cement appear after a bit.

Palate: Still kind of odd here – some smoky notes blended with vanilla and brown sugar. Still rather oaky and dry.

Finish: Dry and short as oak turns a bit bitter. Subtle smoky notes linger.

Rating: 82/100 – This is an odd one. I’m usually all for unorthodox finishes, but the Islay cask finish muddles the waters of this bourbon making it a bit incoherent.

Value for the money:  I think these retailed around €120 or so when they came out, and it’s an easy pass for me at that price or higher.

Larceny Review

This is a NAS wheated bourbon from Heaven Hill that is bottled at 46% ABV.

Nose: Strong wheat notes up front with a blend of bananas, apples, and very heavy maraschino cherries (almost artificial sweet cherry), and a slight isopropyl note lingering in the background.

Palate: Sweet corn with a bouquet of fruits (again heavy on cherry more in the form of cherry cough drops here), mild oak, wheat, and dried orange peel.

Finish: Lots of citrus lingering with the wheat grain.

Rating: 85/100 – I tend to be partial to wheated bourbons – especially ones on the fruit heavy side. If you prefer heavier, bourbons with more oak influence, this one probably isn’t for you.

Value for the money: These can be found for around $25-$35 and I think it makes a great buy at that price – especially for someone first getting into bourbon who wants to try a wheated expression.

Pikesville Rye (40%) Review

This is the non cask strength NAS version of Pikesville Rye that pre-dates the now semi-common 55% ABV 6 year version.

Nose: Very bread/yeast forward with rye/caraway seeds. Slight nail polish remover note indicates young age.

Palate: Rye is faint – watery overall with young oak and subtle coconut.

Finish: Disappears in a flash leaving just a small hint of rye.

Rating: 72/100 – Well, after having the newer 6 year 55% ABV expression, I can’t help but feel sorely disappointed in this expression. It falls flat pretty much all around and is too watered down to really enjoy neat.

Value for the money: I haven’t seen these in awhile, but retail is around $15 and I would easily pass and just buy the cask strength version instead for $50-$60.

Pikesville Rye Review

This is a 6 year straight rye from Heaven Hill that’s bottled at 55% ABV. It is a relatively new expression from HH that came out within the last couple years, but it appears to have made its way into their core range.

Nose: Buttered rye bread with prominent oak and a bit of anise.

Palate: Surprisingly oak heavy for only 6 years – way more oak than the nose let on with it actually overtaking the rye as the dominant note. Biscuits and black pepper in the background.

Finish: Mostly dry oak with subtle rye.

Rating: 85/100 – A bit too oak forward for me for such a young rye.

Value for the money: These retail around $50 isn’t bad, but I’d rather buy the Baby Saz as you can usually find that closer to $30 and it’s just as good in my book. Or, you could spend an additional $25 or so and come away with a great shelf rye in E.H. Taylor Straight Rye.

Heaven Hill Port Cask (Malts of Scotland) Review

This is a 14 year expression from Heaven Hill that was finished in port casks for an indeterminate length of time (feel free to fill me in if you have any details on the finishing period). It was bottled at 52.8% ABV.

Nose: Super fruity full of grape juice and candies. Heavy vanilla with bananas and smoked oak.

Palate: Heavy grape notes surrounded by sweet corn and a very noticeable port influence. I’d have to venture this is finished for at least a few years to have this much port influence.

Finish: Sweet grapes with muddled plums becoming rather dry.

Rating: 84/100 – Port finish on bourbons can be tough for me given how sweet bourbon is already. I find port finishing much more interesting when working with rye instead. Looking back, it seems I had very similar thoughts to the Heaven Hill Sherry Cask finish from MoS I reviewed awhile back.

Value for the money: These retailed around €100 (so probably about $80 excluding VAT) and I’d say that’s not a terrible price, but I don’t think I’d buy a full bottle.

Henry McKenna Bottled-In-Bond Review

This is a core expression from Heaven Hill as part of their bottled in bond bottlings. This is a 10 year single barrel that was bottled at 50% ABV.

Nose: Oak, cherries, and sweet grains up front. Almost comes off as a wheated expression given the sweetness to it. Very grain forward with butterscotch, cinnamon, and blueberries.

Palate: Blackberries, brown sugar, vanilla, black cherry, oak, pepper, and cardamom.

Finish: Oak becomes dominant while the fruit notes fade rapidly.

Rating: 88/100

Value for the money: These retail around $25-$30 which is a great bargain.

Evan Williams Single Barrel 2014 Review

This is the 2014 release of the EWSB. It’s a yearly release comprised of many single barrel offerings. It’s bottled at 43.3% ABV.

Nose: Strikes me as a Brown-Forman profile with very prominent bananas along with cinnamon, musty oak, and some cigarette ashes.

Palate: Heavy oak with vanilla, butterscotch, and honey with an overall floral style.

Finish: Black pepper, oak, slightly bitter.

Rating: 83/100

Value for the money: These are usually around $20 and are one of the better buys in bourbon at the lower end of the price spectrum.

Evan Williams Silver Wax Review

This was a limited Evan Williams Single Barrel that was barreled for the 10th anniversary of the Bourbon Heritage Center. This is a 10 year expression bottled at 55% ABV.

Nose: Blackberry jam, damp sawdust, banana runts, new leather.

Palate: Strong sawdust – mostly oak overall with spiced apple cider and cinnamon.

Finish: Dry and oaky with a bit of black cherry and leather.

Rating: 82/100 – A bit overoaked and simple.

Value for the money: These were $99 at the giftshop which is a bit pricy for what you get – especially compared to the standard EWSB at $25.


Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch 2 Review

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.

William Heavenhill Bottled in Bond Review

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.