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Wednesday, May 5, 2021

Heaven Hill Bottled-In-Bond Taste Off: 6 year old vs 7 year old

My WT101 naïveté did not extend to Heaven Hill 6yo BIB. I think we all knew it was going to be discontinued, especially in its $10-$15 price point. Then Heaven Hill Distillery fulfilled all cynical expectations by going Full Coke Dealer by adding one year to the expression and tripling the price on its customers. Retailers were only happy to pile on further.

One could certainly argue the 6yo whiskey was underpriced, and I would have been comfortable paying $25-$30 for the same whiskey, but now the 7yo averages $68 at retail stores (per Winesearcher). Yes, you read that correctly. You may indeed find yourself in an American liquor store that charges more for a 7 year old Heaven Hill product than a 12 year old single malt scotch. This why I don't indulge in American whiskey much beyond good cocktail ingredients.

Heaven Hill 6 year old Bottled-in-Bond was excellent in cocktails, and pretty decent on its own. Just before that expression vaporized, I bought four bottles (for $11.99 each!) from its home state of Kentucky. Now I'm down to two. Today's sample comes from about the halfway point of the bottle I finished a few months ago.

Despite my gripes about everyone connected to the 7 year old expression, I really do want to try the stuff. So I am thankful to have participated in a bottle split.

Heaven Hill 6 year old BIB, 50%abv, from my bottle

The nose balances dried berries, oak spice and barrel char up front, with vanilla bean, leather and cherry candy in the background. Hints of tangerines and pine sap gradually emerge.

Though less complex than the nose, the palate has a good tart citrus note to go with the sweet cherries and black pepper. A spot of savory tea floats in the background.

It finishes with cherries, bananas, caramel and black pepper.

It brightens up when served on one big ice cube, turning into honey and oranges with a dash of salt.

A relic from another time, Heaven Hill 6 year old BIB was one of life's little joys. I wish I'd known about it years earlier so I wouldn't have had to wince down a parliament of declining $25 scotch blends in the search for a tasty deal. Though this is my third review of this bourbon, it's the first time I've really appreciated how well it worked on ice. (Yes this is really me.) So I'm going to give it a couple more points this time.


Heaven Hill 7 year old BIB, 50%abv, from a bottle split

The nose begins with sherry-like dried fruits and chocolate. The wood is so much heavier here than in the 6yo, and comes close to overwhelming the rest of the elements. Hints of oranges, peach skin and armagnac boost it slightly.

Mostly woody, peppery and savory, the palate does allow in the occasional apricot and plum. Quite tannic, though.

Luckily those stone fruits stick around into the finish because the tannins and peppercorns are very aggressive.

It's dry and woody when served on one big ice cube, with occasional hints of bananas and black pepper.

Though it certainly has heft and age, the 7 year old does nothing for me. It smells good, as do a lot of oak juices, but the palate seems dimensionless next to the 6 year old. All that oak reads generic, as if this could be one of the many faceless bourbons on the market. Drinking the bourbon has changed my mind; I wouldn't spend $25-$30 on this, let alone the current asking price.


Though I don't like the 7's price, I understand it from a financial perspective since the market bears it. But I do not understand why Heaven Hill changed the bourbon's style. Did they do it so drinkers wouldn't complain about paying quintuple the price for the same bourbon? Because, IMO, people are paying quintuple the price for a lesser bourbon, a bourbon that doesn't even surpass Heaven Hill's cheaper products. For instance, it's of a similar quality to Elijah Craig Small Batch, but at twice the price. I'm sure Heaven Hill is weeping into their platinum tissues over my post, but it didn't have to be this way.


  1. You are missing the point. Comparing single malt scotch to American whiskey is a fools errand. There are overpriced scotch whiskies and overpriced American whiskies. The value of each and every purchased is subjective to the drinker. What he is willing to pay for one bottle may seem hasty to some, but it all depends on what your perception of what value really is. For example, you mentioned Heaven Hill BIB and the huge price increase. There are other fine BIB offerings that are still a great bargain and fall well below the price of entry level, competent single malts. Take for example Knob Creek. I recently purchased a 120 proof Knob for $29 on special. That bottle drinks better than 95% of the entry level malts out there at a fraction of the price. It's simply because it's got loads more flavor at 120 proof and that's real mileage per pour verses a 40-43% adulterated with coloring and filtering Glen whatever. By claiming you won't buy American whiskey because of the price is just being plain lazy as there are dozens of BIB gems on the shelves at half the price of scotch. Take for example JW Dant or Rare Breed or even JTS Brown. Heck, even Benchmark single barrel is not that bad a pour that can be sipped straight or mixed at 3 to 4 times less than entry level young scotch. Don't want to buy American whiskey? Fine. You are missing out on great whiskey at fair prices. Getting complacent by drinking nothing but scotch for it's perceived value not only misses the point but it also does your palate no favors. Part of drinking fine spirits is to challenge the palate and diversify your experiences which will not only bring more enjoyment but make you a better customer and not just a consumer.

    1. kezhengxuan, thank you for your comment. You seem to be very upset by my post. And I'm at a loss to see what pissed you off. But when you have publicly commented on more than 2000 whiskies from around the world, then you can call me lazy and complacent. At this point you don't know me and I don't know you, and that's as far as it goes.

      Our opinions about pricing are probably not that far apart. I believe the majority of scotch is overpriced. AND I agree that most entry level scotch is worse than entry level bourbon. And our palates may not be that different as I also like Knob Creek and Rare Breed. It's just that after more than two decades of drinking American whiskey, I've discovered I'm rarely in the mood for tannin assaults. And because scotch IS overpriced and imported, I like to point out when American domestic booze costs even more.

      And I don't only drink scotch. In fact I don't find most of it to be worth the money. That's why I mostly go in for samples rather than bottles. I drink rye, brandies from around the world, rums from around the world, sake, beer, gin, absinthe, bitter liqueurs, mezcal, baijiu, cocktails, etc., etc., etc. And I appreciate each, not as a "malternative", but on its own terms.

      But you are correct that value is subjective. I offered my opinion. You offered yours. And you're calling me names, for which I don't see the reason. Again, I don't think our takes are that far off.

    2. Kezhengxuan is right, Michael. You should open your mind and challenge your palate more, and give American whiskey a chance. Looking here => I see you have only reviewed 123 bourbons and 66 ryes so far in the last 15 years. But you are young, one day you will see the light.