Whiskey Review: Heaven Hill 27 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon - The Whiskey Wash

Whiskey Review: Heaven Hill 27 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Editor’s Note: This whiskey was provided to us as a review sample by Heaven Hill. This in no way, per our editorial policies, influenced the final outcome of this review.

27 years of age is a really long, long time for a bourbon.

I’m currently staring at a media review sample of the two decades and seven years old bourbon from Heaven Hill that predates a legendary fire there over 20 years ago. This fire, which gained a high degree of notoriety for the intensity of the burning, destroyed a staggering over 90,000 barrels of aging whiskey that had been produced at the Old Heaven Hill Springs Distillery before it was gutted in 1996.

What is tempting me in the small bottle to the side of my laptop is part curiosity in taste, and part intellectual wonder. This Kentucky straight bourbon was drawn from just 41 barrels produced in 1989 and 1990 that were ultimately mingled together recently for this very limited release after passing taste testing at the distillery. I’ve certainly personally tasted my share of older whiskeys in my time running this website, but this is one of the oldest bourbons I’ve tried to date, and certainly one which has my mind wandering pre-taste as to the selection process the Heaven Hill team went through in putting this together.

It is said this was chosen from limited remaining stocks of pre-fire barrels that have been closely monitored post-fire. Of the stock that was left over, including this, did the fire heat and accompanying heavy smoke play into this product’s development, or were these barrels somehow isolated enough to not have this as an item of concern? Heaven Hill didn’t spell out specifically where these barrels were in relation to the events of that day, so we are only left to guess.

What is known is that all but five of the barrels in this small batch were aged on the first and second floors of an aging warehouse, where increased humidity and evaporation caused the proof to drop to a low 47.35% ABV at the time of bottling. Given that the older a bourbon gets the higher chance it has to become over-oaked in its flavor profile, I was eager to see how such an old spirit played on my palate in relation to the various factors it has experienced over the years.

Heaven Hill 27 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Heaven Hill 27 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon (image via Heaven Hill)

Tasting Notes: Heaven Hill 27 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Vital Stats: 27 year old bourbon; 94.7 proof (47.35% ABV); 750 ml bottle housed in special wooden box with magnetic closure; prices around $400, though prices at the time of this review are significantly higher.

Appearance: A beautiful brownish orange in the glass, this bourbon has warm earth tones and wonderful legs as I swirl it around.

Nose: There is a subtle play of sweet and oak aromas on first smell, highlighting the fact this older bourbon appears not to be over-oaked. Hints of sweet peach and pear drift up from the glass after a short bit, and half an hour later brown sugar and toffee compliment the balanced oak.

Palate: There is little heat in this bourbon, so watering it down isn’t really needed. Orange, jam, vanilla and some wood emerge in my mouth as I taste it, along with some hints of maple and caramel. There’s a warm mouth feel, complimented half an hour later by some rather odd notes of candy corn and caramel corn. This is definitely showcasing itself as almost a dessert bourbon.

On the finish side it holds long in the back of my throat after I swallow, being smooth going down and offering a full bodied warmth for a very pleasant conclusion.

The Takeaway

Summary

Bourbon this old never tasted so good. Though some oak is present one cannot say this is an overly woody whiskey, especially given the number of years it spent in barrel. This is an investment in a bottle, something you'll want to savor a small amount at a time as bottles of it are not cheap to come by.

Though a good sipper on its own, this would also work well accompanying certain desserts, and is certainly something I would consider after dinner. An American whiskey well worthy of the Heaven Hill name.

4.5
User Rating 5 (1 vote)
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