I last visited the Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience in mid-2019 (thanks, COVID) and at the time, it was a completely different experience than what a visitor would find today. These days, the line to get inside the door starts early each day and only a handful of bottles are available inside. Pre-COVID, I was able to walk into the gift shop at 11:30 am with almost no one else there and had my pick from a variety of releases. I ended up grabbing an Elijah Craig Grenade as well as the latest William Heavenhill release. At the time, the offering was their 12 year old 7th edition of the series. Right off the bat, I wondered to myself if I was paying triple the price of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof for the same whiskey under a different label. After all, they’re both 12 years old, produced at Heaven Hill, and bottled at barrel strength. As it turns out, WHH 12 Year is anything but standard ECBP.
The 7th edition of William Heavenhill was made up of an extremely small batch of 35 barrels that aged for 12 years on the 10th floor of Rickhouse 1K, one of the brick warehouses that sits at the site of the Heaven Hill Bernheim distillery. Brick buildings have excellent thermal mass which results in cooler conditions in the summer and warmer conditions in the winter. Theoretically, this would imply narrower variations in temperature each year as the seasons progressed. Regardless of building material, though, I’d have to imagine that the 10th floor would still result in some incredibly warm aging conditions each summer.
William Heavenhill 12 Year is non-chill filtered and bottled at 67.2% ABV. Was this merely a dressed up Elijah Craig Barrel Proof?
|Nose||Peanut brittle, cane sugar, toffee, dried strawberries, walnut, oak, just a hint of mint, Cinnamon Toast Crunch. With water and time, red hots, some orange citrus, and a faint grainy note.|
|Taste||Cherry cola, vanilla, big oak, an oilier and less sweet peanut note here, cinnamon, anise, pipe tobacco, dried berries. With water, hotter on the tongue with more spice and dried fruit.|
|Finish||Spicy and dry, clove, pepper, toasted oak, some caramel sweetness in the back, Cherry Vanilla Coke notes linger for a while alongside corn sweetness and a slight herbal astringency.|
|Overall Thoughts||To provide a reasonable point of comparison for this review, I tried this side by side with both Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch B517 and A121 and I found the WHH to be brighter with a lot more range than both ECBPs. I don’t think it fully justifies the price tag but I can say that cost aside, I do like this better than almost every recent ECBP batches I’ve tried in the past five years. It, however, doesn’t quite hold a candle to some of my favorite older ECBP releases from before the label change. If you’re a Heaven Hill fan, it would be pretty safe to assume that you’d greatly enjoy this. It's really well done.|