Spotlight: Heaven Hill Distillery
We are MASSIVE fans of the Heaven Hill Distillery here at Smokin’ Aces and we stock a pretty wide range of their superb American whiskeys. We thought we’d take this opportunity to give our customers a bit more information about this excellent distillery.
A bit of background…
The Heaven Hill Distillery is the largest independent, family-owned and operated producer and marketer of distilled spirits in the US.
The distillery was founded, originally under the name “Old Heavenhill Springs Distillery” shortly after the repeal of prohibition in 1935.
Heaven Hill’s aging warehouses contain the world’s second-largest collection of Kentucky whiskey in the world, with over 1 million barrels. This equates to around 17% of the world’s future supply of bourbon!
In 1996, the distillery suffered a major fire, which started in an aging warehouse and spread to other buildings. Witnesses described a “river of fire” and “barrels exploding and rocketing across the sky like shooting stars” as 90000 barrels of bourbon went up in flames.
After the fire, the distillery survived with the help of neighbouring bourbon producers, including Brown-Forman and Jim Beam, who provided production capacity until 1999 when Heaven Hill bought the Bernheim distillery in Louisville.
The distillation process (mashing, fermenting and distilling) now occurs at the new location in Louisville but aging, bottling and shipping still take place at the original site in Bardstown.
Video of the fire…
This video shows the true size and devastation of the distillery fire.
Master Distillers – The Beams
Until this year, all of the Master Distillers at Heaven Hill have been members of the Beam family.
The original Master Distiller was Joseph L. Beam, cousin of the Jim Beam’s we are certain you have all heard of. He was followed by his son, Harry, who in turn was succeeded by Earl Beam, the son of Jim Beam’s brother.
The latest members of the Beam family to hold the title were Parker Beam and his son Craig (who were both Master Distillers at the same time).
Sadly, Parker Beam died early this year (January 2017) after a battle with Lou Gehrig’s disease at the age of 75.
Denny Potter, Heaven Hill’s first non-Beam Master Distiller was appointed, while Craig Beam remains at the distillery as a consultant.
Heaven Hill Whiskeys
Now to the important part. The Heaven Hill Distillery produce a range of absolutely incredible products, many of which we stock at Smokin’ Aces, so make sure you come in, sit down, and sip on some of the best American whiskeys on the planet.
Heaven Hill Bourbon – 40% abv
Heaven Hill’s “entry level” bourbon remains superb. Aged for around 4 years but tastes a bit older. Well-rounded, smooth, with toasted nut, orchard fruit, vanilla and mild spice notes all shining through. A medium-length, spicy finish. Great value.
Evan Williams Extra Aged – 43% abv
The Evan Williams Extra Aged is a house favourite at Smokin’ Aces. Very versatile and great on its own or mixed in cocktails. Plenty of vanilla and peach notes, with enough spice to provide a nice bite. The finish is of medium length, with the vanilla and spice clinging on.
Evan Williams Bottled In Bond – 50% abv
Simply brilliant stuff. A little bit more difficult to get hold of than the previous 2 but well worth the effort tracking it down. The fruit notes remain, with the spice turned up a notch or two… Longer, spicy finish. Highly recommended.
Evan Williams 1783 – 43% abv
Named after the year that Evan Williams first set up his distillery on the banks of the Ohio River. Mindblowingly good value for money. Slightly drier than most bourbons, with plenty of spice and hints of early autumn orchard fruit. Long, spiced finish.
Evan Williams Single Barrel – 43.3% abv
This one blew our minds the first time we tried it. Aged for around 9 years. There is some satisfying burn to this, more than you would expect from the abv. Plenty of orchard fruit flavours, vanilla and spiciness while retaining a classic bourbon sweetness. A long finish with spice and bittersweet orange peel.
Elijah Craig Small Batch 12yo – 47% abv
Named after a reverand who lived in Virginia and found that his accidentally burnt barrels added a beautiful flavour to whiskey. Unparalleled smoothness, with fresh fruit and vanilla notes shining through. The finish is very long, with vanilla and mixed spice.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof – 69.7% abv
Wow!! This one is for the true bourbon lovers out there. Fiery spice but with a surprising smoothness. Loads of vanilla and a finish that hangs around forever. Some people suggest adding a splash of water but we’d STRONGLY recommend you try it at full strength first. Great stuff!!
Larceny Straight Bourbon – 46% abv
Named after John E. Fitzgerald who wasn’t shy of helping himself to company whiskey stock. This uses wheat as the secondary grain (as opposed to the more common rye), adding a creamy smoothness and subtlety to the whiskey. Try this if you like Woodford Reserve. You might never go back…
Rittenhouse Straight Rye – 40% abv
Sadly, the production of this excellent rye whiskey has been discontinued but fear not!! We stocked up! A favourite of bartenders all over the world, it is extremely versatile and makes an amazing Manhattan. Loads of spice and an unrefined rawness (in a very good way).
Rittenhouse 100 Straight Rye – 50% abv
Thankfully, this rye whiskey is still being produced. Often considered the absolute benchmark of rye whiskeys. Excellent value, tonnes of spice and a very satisfying burn. Great neat or in cocktails. Truly outstanding!
Pikesville Straight Rye – 40% abv
Yet another excellent rye whiskey from Heaven Hill. Unrefined, with plenty of spice and burn. Proper shooting whiskey for those who fancy a boilermaker or two. We absolutely love it!
Mellow Corn – 50% abv
Corn whiskey is pretty rare but this liquid is absolutely brilliant. Possibly the best label in history as well!! Smooth, sweet, fresh corn flavours with a hint of biting spice. Much easier to drink than you would think at 50% abv. Highly recommended and great in a cocktail!
As we mentioned before (and as you may be able to tell from this post), we are HUGE fans of the Heaven Hill Distillery. It’s refreshing, especially these days, to see a company rely upon the quality of their products alone. No fancy branding, no multi-million dollar label designs, just incredible products at stunningly reasonable prices. In fact, across the entire range, we can’t really think of another distillery (with the possible exception of Buffalo Trace) which comes even close to the value-for-money that you get with these products.
We’d strongly recommend that you pop in soon, pull up a chair, and try some (or all) of these fine spirits – either neat, over ice, or in a cocktail. The choice is yours…