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Friday, April 21, 2017

J.W. Dant Bottled-in-Bond versus Heaven Hill 6yo Bottled-in-Bond, 3 Ways!

Yes, just last week I reviewed Heaven Hill 6yo BIB. Then I noticed I had JW Dant BIB on the calendar for this week. What better way to get a clearer idea of a pair of bourbons than with a little Taste Off! perspective?

That was a rhetorical question.

I bought these two bottles in Kentucky last year: $9 for the JWD and $11 for the HH. (If you're a scotch drinker, you may be saying "Fucken A" right now.) I opened both at the same time and, as you can see, they're both almost gone.

A quick refresher: Both of these bourbons are distilled by Heaven Hill Distillery, and both are bottled at 50% from barrels in bonded Kentucky warehouses. The HH BIB is at least 6 years old (though there's something going on with this release possibly pointing towards bad news), while the JWD BIB is at least 4 years old. And both, as mentioned before, are hella cheap.

I tasted these bourbons side-by-side in three different formats: Old Fashioned, Manhattan and Neat.

Distiller: Heaven Hill
Brand: Heaven Hill
Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Region: Louisville, Kentucky
Maturation: New American oak
Age: at least six years (HH), at least four years (JWD)
Mashbill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
Bottle Code: F167 615 27 (HH), 173 5122 (JWD)
Alcohol by Volume: 50%

(orange peel, angostura bitters, half a demerara cube and a splash of water muddled together, then rocks, then 25mL of bourbon)

Heaven Hill 6 year old BIB
The whiskey merges with the orange peel and sugar very well, so that one can't tell where the whiskey ends and the other ingredients begin. A substantial bubblegum note. Overall its very even and drinky.

J.W. Dant BIB
More spirity and mouth-drying, though also plenty sweet. Needs a lot of ice melt to straighten it out. Though that also brings out a green woody bitterness.

Verdict: The Heaven Hill old-fashioned is pretty decent. The JW Dant old-fashioned is pretty bad.

(20mL of bourbon stirred with 10mL of Carpano Antica, angostura bitters and a drop of Luxardo cherry syrup)

Heaven Hill 6 year old BIB
Tangy and caramel-rich. It's a little woody (tee-hee) but not too much. The bourbon leaves room for the Antica to shine. Very fruity and full of cinnamon.

J.W. Dant BIB
Hot, sharp, mouth-drying, and very oaky (sawdust and bark). Ah, and there's the woody bitterness. It feels out of balance, but is still drinkable.

Verdict: This bottle of Heaven Hill BIB has been my go-to Manhattan bourbon ever since I opened it. I dig it. The Dant is a mess but will serve its purpose if that's what you have on hand, or if you're already on your third Manhattan.

(If you say that these whiskies were not designed to be sipped from a Glencairn, then I would say you're right, now hush up.)

Heaven Hill 6 year old BIB
Nose - Orange peel, cinnamon, cloves and brown sugar. Fresh cut lumber. Lots of vanilla after 15 minutes of air.
Palate - Not as vibrant as the nose. Cherries, oak, sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. A little bit of heat and a little bit of hazelnuts.
Finish - Simple and straightforward. Oak char and oak spice.

J.W. Dant BIB
Nose - Sawdust, rock candy and corn whiskey. Something green and vegetal.
Palate - Hotter than the HH. Burnt nuts, loads of drying oak. Dirt and bark. Sugar and soap.
Finish - Soap, oak, caramel and nuts. A little bitterness. Lots of heat.

Verdict: Heaven Hill wins again. Excellent nose, good enough palate. The Dant is so-so.


My opinion of Heaven Hill 6yo bourbon remains the same as last week, though its quality was made quite clear when compared with the Dant in cocktail form. Meanwhile, it's difficult to recommend the Dant for cocktails. When neat, it smells and tastes very similar to the average well bourbon. No more, no less. With that being said, I'd still pick the Dant over the basic scotch blends (JW Red, Dewar's, Cutty Sark, etc.) that are 2.5x-3x Dant's price.

Verdict: J.W. Dant BIB smells and tastes like cheap whiskey. Heaven Hill 6yo BIB has better qualities than most of the common bourbons twice its price, and every "craft" bourbon four or five times its price. R.I.P.?

Availability - These are both only available in certain states. (EDITED) Availability of the HH is getting slim and labels are changing...
Pricing - HH: $10-$15, JWD: $9-$20(!)
Rating - HH: 82 and JWD: 70