Sponsored Content Notice: This post is part of a paid partnership with Heaven Hill Distillery. The bottle was provided free of charge and compensation was provided. My tasting notes of this whiskey, however, are unedited and genuine.
Today’s review examines a classic style of bourbon from one of the largest and oldest distilleries in the United States. If you’ve ever seen the words “Bottled-in-Bond” on a bottle of bourbon and wondered what the phrase meant, the answer lies deep in the history of the American whiskey world. The production, sale, and transport of whiskey in the 1800s was very different than the modern, streamlined process we have today. Whiskey resellers—known then as rectifiers—would purchase whiskey from distilleries and resell it to the public. Many rectifiers were honest businesspeople but some were less scrupulous than others and would add a variety of other ingredients to the purchased whiskey to alter the flavor, increase the sellable volume of their product, or both. These additives included anything from neutral grain spirits, fruit juice and caramel to dangerous chemicals like sulfuric acid.
Over time, consumers began losing trust in rectifiers and in whiskey because they couldn’t be sure if the product they bought was tampered with or not. In response, a group of distillers lobbied Congress for protection measures that could help consumers feel comfortable buying whiskey. Their lobby efforts succeeded with the passing of the Bottled-in-Bond Act of 1897. This early set of consumer protection laws helped to regulate early standards for American whiskey while giving consumers peace of mind that they were purchasing something that was pure and unaltered.
To be labeled as Bottled-in-Bond, a whiskey must:
- Be the product of a single distillery and distilled during a single distillation season—either Spring (January – June) or Fall (July – December).
- Be aged at least four years in a federally bonded warehouse under the supervision of the United States government.
- Be bottled at exactly 100 proof (50% ABV).
- Display the name and number of the Distilled Spirits Plant (D.S.P.) where it was produced. If bottled at a different facility, the D.S.P. number of the bottling facility must be displayed as well.
Heaven Hill Distillery has been all-in on Bottled-in-Bond products from the very beginning. The distillery started production in 1935 and chose to age their whiskey in bonded warehouses from day one. The first Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond was released in 1939 and versions have been a part of their portfolio ever since. Heaven Hill ages their whiskey in over 60 bonded warehouses. With a huge array of Bottled-in-Bond brands on the market, Heaven Hill produces more Bottled-in-Bond products that any other distillery in the country and their lineup includes bourbon, rye, and corn whiskey.
Heaven Hill’s 7 Year Bottled-in-Bond has won numerous awards since its launch a few years ago including Gold awards at both the ISC and SF Spirits Competitions and the Tried and True award in the Ultimate Spirits Challenge. It was also named the #4 Whisky of the Year in 2019 from Whisky Advocate. Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond is aged 7 years and like all Bottled-in-Bond bourbon, is bottled at exactly 100 proof.
|Nose||Brown sugar sweetness, clove, sweet oak, honey, bing cherry, hints of tobacco, cinnamon, vanilla. A bit of butterscotch and hints of red berries emerge over time.|
|Taste||Cinnamon, graham crackers, more honey, toasted oak, allspice, leather, hint of red hots, hint of maple. With some time, I find a growing nuttiness and additional sugary sweetness.|
|Finish||Spicy and sweet, cinnamon, caramel, maraschino cherry, hint of dark chocolate, peanuts, and just a hint of fresh mint. Lengthy and spicy.|
|Overall Thoughts||Bottled-in-Bond may be steeped in history but it certainly deserves its place in the future of American whiskey. This expression illustrates some of the great things being done in the BiB world by showcasing a bourbon that is quintessentially Heaven Hill. The 100 proof mark allows for lots of additional flavor to shine through and the seven year age statement adds a deeper oak and some nice leathery notes. It’s sweet and oak-forward with the right balance of spice and nuttiness to nicely round things out. A classic example of what Bottled-in-Bond bourbon can be.|