Even though bourbon whiskey has been popular here in the UK for decades, it’s fair to say that it has never reached the dizzying heights of single-malt Scotch, or blended Irish whiskey, in terms of popularity.
Now, don’t get us wrong, we’re not saying there isn’t a bourbon whiskey market here in the UK because that would be a complete lie. As far as bourbon goes however, other than Jim Beam, the only other option in most bars, pubs, and restaurants is Jack Daniel’s (yes, we know that JD is technically a Tennessee whiskey, but that’s a complex matter in itself).
Lately, however, we’ve seen signs of bourbon whiskey climbing the ranks and showing signs of potentially becoming THE breakthrough alcoholic beverage of 2024. With bourbon whiskey sales rising, social media marketing campaigns proving more intelligent than ever, and with more amazing bourbons hitting the UK market, it’s a great time to be a bourbon drinker.
One bourbon that has been turning a lot of heads and getting rave reviews as of late, is Heaven Hill Bottled-In-Bond 7 Years Old. But what do we think here at Great Drams? Let’s find out, shall we?
What is Bourbon Whiskey?
You’re likely familiar with some of the biggest names in Bourbon whiskey production, but do you know exactly what it is that sets bourbon apart from other American whiskies such as, say, rye?
Bourbon is a very popular type of whiskey in the USA, and over here in the UK it is gradually becoming more popular, especially as younger drinkers are discovering it for the first time.
Bourbon is an American whiskey that is made from yeast, water, and grain. The mash that is used to create the whiskey however, must be made of at least 51% corn if it is to be classed as a bourbon. The remaining percentage of grain can be made from any other grain such as malted barley, rye, wheat, or a combination.
Bourbon whiskey is named after the place of its inception in the 1700s, Bourbon County, Kentucky. It would be shipped down the Mississippi River to Bourbon Street, New Orleans. It was, and is, produced in Kentucky because of the quality of the water, and the corn.
Bourbon CAN be produced anywhere in the USA, unlike Tennessee Whiskey, which MUST be produced in Tennessee. It is however, primarily produced in Kentucky because of tradition, because that’s where a lot of distilleries are located, and because of the water and corn quality.
It must however, be made in the USA and aged in new charred American oak barrels. When it enters those charred American oak barrels it must also be no more than 62.5% ABV.
Finally, when bottled, it must be at least 40% ABV in order for it to be labelled and sold as a bourbon.
Founded in 1935, Heaven Hill Distilleries is one of the newer whiskey distilleries in Kentucky.
Located in Bardstown, Kentucky, this family-owned distillery has the same core values and mottos that it did nearly a century ago when they put their very first batch of bourbon into barrels in 1935.
In 1939, they released their Old Heaven Hill Bottled-In-Bold Bourbon. Nowadays, 4 years aging doesn’t sound like much, but for a bourbon it’s a respectable amount, and back then, it was like an eternity. Their patience and persistence paid off as Old Heaven Hill Bottled-In-Bold became the best-selling bourbon in all of Kentucky.
This became a lesson and Old Heaven Hill placed an emphasis on aging their bourbons. Right now, nearly 9 decades later, those principles still apply.
The ‘Bottled-In-Bond’ Story
If you’re of an inquisitive nature, you’ll likely have noticed how we haven’t yet spoken about the Bottled-In-Bond name, I.E where it comes from and what it means.
Many decades ago, whiskey distilling, especially in America, was rife with corruption and illegal activity. To help “enhance” the taste, make the booze stronger, and make it stretch further, unscrupulous merchants would add all kinds of nastiness to their whiskey, and we don’t mean nastiness like alcopops, either.
These merchants would add things like prune juice, apple juice, tea, tobacco-steeped water, and even kerosene. Yes, you read that right, we did say kerosene. Knowing something had to be done, Congress passed the Bottled-In-Bond Act of 1897. This was basically a guarantee of a whisky’s quality and purity.
Even though whiskey distillation was illicit during prohibition, once whiskey distillation became legal once again, the Bottled-In-Bond seal of approval proved to be the best way of guaranteeing the bourbon you were buying was of the highest quality and contained nothing that shouldn’t be in there.
Heaven Hill proudly produces more Bottled-In-Bond spirits than any other distillery.
In 2019, Heaven Hill discontinued their 6 Year Old bourbon and replaced it with their 7 Year Old to pay tribute to the first bourbon produced at the distillery.
Bottled-In-Bond bourbon must be aged for a minimum of four years, be bottled at 100 proof, and be the product of just one distillery. It is the 7 Year aging process that really sets this bourbon apart from the others currently on the market.
At 50% ABV this whiskey has a stunning burnt toffee colour that will have you salivating from first sight.
On the nose, you should detect plenty of caramel and toffee, with vanilla undertones and a touch of honey and candied orange peel. This smells like a fudge shop in a bottle, and that is no bad thing.
On the palate, your first sip should give you plenty of maple syrup and oak smoke, coupled with crisp apples, cinnamon, and fresh mandarin. Hold the liquid in your mouth a few seconds however, and you’ll detect liquorice, vanilla, toasted almonds, and a whisper of cracked black peppercorns.
The finish is long and drawn out, lingering for a long time with notes of marmalade, Seville oranges, honey, toasted oak, and vanilla fudge.
If you’re looking for more info on your favourite bourbon whiskey, or any other kind of whiskey/whisky for that matter, you should find everything you need here at GreatDrams.com and a whole lot more besides.
With all the latest whiskey/whisky news, virtual tastings, and a vast selection of all kinds of whisky to suit all budgets and palates, it’s easy to see why our customers continue to return over and over. Whatever you need, if it’s to do with whisky/whiskey, we can help.