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Heaven Hill Heritage Collection 18-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon




Whiskey Review: Heaven Hill Heritage Collection 18-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon

Tasting Notes:

18-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon drawn from a mash bill of 78% corn, 12% malted barley, and 10% rye; bottled at 120 proof; priced at $299.99.
It is as beautiful as it gets for a bourbon of this age statement in glass, reflecting a warm and dark brown amber. The leg structure and viscosity are of good quality.
Uh-huh. The nose sings a tune in this one as soon as it approaches the glass, happily taking in very structured aromatics of deep brown sugar, classic warm vanilla, oak goodness, a little bit of maple, and a little run-in of black pepper.
God dang—wow, and again, f’ing wow. There’s nothing but pleasant, aged bourbon goodness on this palate. Rich notes of vanilla custard, spicy oak, creme brulee, a little maple candy kiss, A1 sauce (yes, don’t ask—that’s what it is), and a backdrop of malted balls make for a very fascinating mix.
The finish on this holds its age in its hand, telling my back throat tales of Kentucky old as it slips away in a gentle, loving fade.
When you consider the number of barrels Heaven Hill’s team manages year after year, you’ve got a proper case of maturing bourbon craftsmanship in this release. It hits everything it needs to and goes beyond to showcase its elder status. Get yourself a bottle if you can bear the pain of what the market sees its value at, or at least try a considered pour if you find it on a whiskey bar list somewhere.
Heaven Hill Heritage Collection 18-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon review
We review Heaven Hill Heritage Collection 18-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon, produced from 133 barrels laid down in December 2005 that were pulled from the third floor of Heaven Hill’s Rickhouse 1I. (image via Heaven Hill)

Editor’s Note: We received a review sample of this whiskey from the brand. However, in accordance with our editorial policies, this has not influenced the outcome of our review in any way.

Heaven Hill Distillery is one of the more preeminent American whiskey makers, starting in 1935 and growing today to the point where over 2 million barrels of the brown stuff are aging in more than 60 warehouses spread across two Kentucky counties. They are the parent company to some of the most well-loved American whiskey labels, including Elijah Craig Bourbon, Larceny Bourbon, Evan Williams Bourbon, Pikesville Rye Whiskey, Rittenhouse Rye Whisky, Parker’s Heritage Collection, and Old Fitzgerald.

Alongside this large raft of whiskeys sit some other specialized brands that one doesn’t always hear about as much. One of these is the Heaven Hill Heritage Collection. A once-a-year offering that comes out each spring, it is always a highly limited release that focuses on some of the distillery’s oldest inventory of aging whiskey.

“The Heaven Hill Heritage Collection is our opportunity to showcase some of the oldest stock in Heaven Hill’s incredible inventory of aging whiskey,” said Master Distiller Conor O’Driscoll recently of this line-up. “We pride ourselves on having the necessary patience to age, taste, re-taste, and select our whiskey at the moment we feel it is perfectly matured.”

It is always challenging to pick an older American whiskey to bring to market without concern that it will be over-oaked. A black mark on an otherwise impressive track record can result if such an expression is released, and it is always something distillery teams who care about quality keep in mind as barrels are sifted through.

What’s in the bottle

With that in mind, the latest release for the Collection is an 18-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon. This 2024 edition features Heaven Hill’s Bourbon Whiskey mash bill, comprised of 78% corn, 12% malted barley, and 10% rye, and is bottled at 120 proof. It comprises 133 barrels produced in December 2005 pulled from the third floor of Rickhouse 1I.

“This 18-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey epitomizes what consumers have come to expect from the highest quality of Heaven Hill’s releases,” noted O’Driscoll at the time of its release.

With the debut of this bourbon, Heaven Hill emphasized its pride in a generally solid track record of maturing stock management, saying that “along with its innovation-focused counterpart, the Parker’s Heritage Collection, the Heaven Hill Heritage Collection is a testament to Heaven Hill’s patience and ultra-aging techniques. Releases from both collections offer a glimpse into the long-term plan across Heaven Hill’s American Whiskey stock and commitment to quality, craft, and innovation.”

When it became available in March, the Heaven Hill Heritage Collection 18-Year-Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon was priced at $299.99. That dollar amount is a far cry from what it is popping up for in retail and on the secondary market, so good luck finding a bottle at MSRP.

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti

Nino Kilgore-Marchetti is the former founder of The Whiskey Wash, an award-winning whiskey lifestyle website dedicated to informing and entertaining consumers about whisk(e)y globally. As a whisk(e)y journalist, expert, and judge, he has written extensively about the subject, been interviewed in various media outlets, and provided tasting input on many whiskeys at competitions.

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