For some odd reason, Heaven Hill has always been one of those distilleries that I subconsciously discount and thus largely ignore. Why? I’m not exactly sure. Maybe because I’ve never viewed them as “top shelf” like some of the other distilleries (save Parker’s Heritage, which I’ve never seen on a shelf)? Just maybe I ignore the quality mid-shelf products that I historically love (Pikesville Rye is outstanding, Larceny (wheated) is delicious and I’ve always been a fan of Elijah Craig 12-year), and only consider Heaven Hill to be “bottom shelf”?
The “Evan Williams” and “Henry McKenna” names have never been much of an interests to me. Until now.
A few weeks ago, I again read through the mash bill breakdown on www.bourbonr.com. It’s a great read, and it coincided with the purchase of a bottle of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof (which has to rank in my all-time top-10 bourbons). These series of events got me realizing that Heaven Hill does produce some top-notch bourbons, and deserves some much needed attention.
After a bit of research, I decided to focus on small batch and single barrel bourbon offerings from Elijah Craig, Henry Mckenna and Evan Williams. So I picked up a few new bottles, including a No Age Statement Elijah Craig, the Henry McKenna 10 year, and two varieties of Evan Williams. I’ve intentionally excluded anything barrel-proof, as those tend to be a different animal in my opinion.
This past weekend, I’ve gave them all a whirl in effort to decide whether I could enjoy the lineup, and whether I could discern any differences in five small batch/single barrel bourbons that all originate from same mash bill and only span roughly 4 years of time (excluding the Evan Williams 1783, which I believe is a bit younger).
Scott is a co-founder of Flight Club and a frequent writer and reviewer on the Club’s blog.