Discussing Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond is akin to mentioning two mutual friends and having someone whisper “they got history” into your ear. Not long ago, Heaven Hill offered a bonded product with a 6-year age statement that cost south of $20. People loved it and happily let other people know, especially if they were discerning drinkers who still wanted to save money on their dram of choice. Then Heaven Hill suspiciously discontinued the celebrated expression only to announce a replacement shortly after, this time with an updated bottle design, 7-year age statement, and $40 MSRP. What followed requires absolutely no imagination.
By the time I got into whiskey, the reprised bottling had already been reviewed (scorned) aplenty with an expected dose of humidity. Availability on it seemed to be rather limited, however, as local stores carrying it have been few and far between. Yet that’s the great thing about being a part of certain communities: sample swaps are a thing, and I decided this would be a fun expression to take for a test run. Since I have no previous attachment to the 6-year Bottled in Bond, let’s see how my sentiments compare.
Nose: Corn-forward, like cornbread and corn cereal. Hints of caramel, nut, and brown butter. Maybe a touch of floral essence. An impression of creaminess after sitting.
Palate: Medium-light mouthfeel. Caramel corn, almond butter, and a mild dose of orange cream. Hints of brown sugar and oak, but they’re the tiniest of whispers. Mellow vanilla and almond butter are the key notes with each sip.
Finish: Soft with more almond butter, a little vanilla, and something of a cornmeal backbone laced with light caramels. Otherwise, it’s fairly short and clean.
Finding the words to describe this whiskey evokes a sense of writer’s block. Each sip has me wondering where the whiskey goes, and why it goes there so fast. Put another way, I could describe it as “effortless,” which is often code for “boring” in my case. This isn’t to say that Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond 7-Year is bad (it isn’t), just that it lacks personality. Each sip I took was less about enjoying the whiskey and more about hoping it would click. The unfortunate reality is that it never hits a stride of flavor for me, instead coming across like an everyday Willett bourbon rather than a developed Heaven Hill product.
At this point I feel it’s right to add some context. I had a pour of Heaven Hill Green Label 6-Year prior to pouring my Bottled in Bond sample. My mentality was simple: start at a lower age/proof point and climb up. However, this turned into a repeat of my view toward Evan Williams Black and White labels, which is to say I very much preferred the cheaper, lower proof option. Despite a slightly younger age statement, Heaven Hill Green Label felt more mature, rounded out, and richer. The main difference between these bottles and the Evan Williams counterparts is that one comes at a wild price hike courtesy of Heaven Hill Brands. I may not have enjoyed the previous, more cost-friendly bonded product while it was around, but the price point of this current iteration leaves me peeved and bewildered all the same.