Whiskey Tasting; Heaven Hill, USA

Yep, that’s right – another Whiskey. This time, we’re in Bourbon territory – where the (drinking) all started for me, although we’re not talking the stuff you get from your local Tesco, or behind the bar at your local. This is the real stuff.

Heaven Hill was not a name too familiar to me before this, although i had heard this, and would have guessed Elijah Craig but nothing more. Hosted by the consistently excellent Wright Wine Company in Skipton, and presented by Henry Joe of Heaven Hill, this was a particularly interesting night for me.

Starting off with Georgia Moon (the one which looks like a small bottle of pickled eggs – sans eggs), we’re straight into the rough and the ready. This is corn whiskey and aged for less than 30 days! None of this 10 yo stuff here. Totally colourless, this self-styled ‘moonshine’ is worth a try for sure…

Next in was Pikesville Rye, at the bottom end of £22 on the night, i didn’t hold much hope for this…. But loved it. Mellow, smooth. Who needs coke and ice in this stuff?
This was quite spicy and fruity. Initially strong on the nose, but with little finish on this (apparently making such Whiskeys good for cocktails! Strong nose, little finish.)

Following quickly on (as there were 9 to get through) we had Mellow Corn. Despite its grand old age of 2 years, this yellow coloured straight rye whiskey (and old-fashioned looking bottle) failed to hit the mark for me. The taste didn’t set my palette alight and after the smooth going Pikesville Rye, i needed something a bit more special. Unfortunately, not as mellow as the name suggested.

Never mind, more to come: Evan Williams Extra Aged. Ok, so on the night, the extremely knowledgable host, Henry Joe, told us stories about the names, about Bourbon, Rye and Corn – but to be honest, time has passed and i have slept.
Needless to say, Evan Williams was someone, but i forget. The Whiskey – yep, fine. In-fact,   more than fine. This is again, a mellow sippin’ whisky, looking not too dissimilar to a certain ‘Old No. 7’ but without the need to mix. Very nice indeed. Purchase made.

So next up is Evan Williams 2002 Single Barrel. At £10 more than the Extra Aged this had to be something special, didn’t it….
Alas, not for me. Again, smooth but less mellow than it’s predecessor.

Bernheim Straight Wheat next. OK, so we’re 6 in and the opinions are flowing, Henry Joe is having to control the noise Northern Crowd. But what of the drink?
This is good ‘ole Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey, but as these guys will tell you – it’s smoother than Bourbon. Is it? Yep, it is for me. This has sweet honey, vanilla and, yes, a touch of mint.

Old Fitzgerald 12 year old. Ok, so i’m not quite blurry now, but it’s going well. This is a Kentucky Bourbon. Apparently wheat is substituted for a more traditional rye in the recipe, giving a rounder and more mellow drink.
I think it was quite nice…

Elijah Craig. Nods of appreciation and recognition here. A more well known drink and, if i recall, an award winner. We had the 12 yo expression: a deep and rich nose, with a taste to match. Slightly smokey too. There’s no surprise this is is popular – a very pleasant drink.

Last, but by no means least, something special. Henry Joe broke out some Larceny. Yet to be available in our shops, this was a real tease. Looking at tasting notes after the event, one read “move over Maker’s Mark – Larceny has your number”!!
So, is this fuss worth it?
In short, yes. Absolutely superb.
It’s a wheated bourbon, like Old Fitzgerald, resulting in a smoother drink. Like Maker’s Mark, it’s fruity and spicey. Kind of like christmas pudding with everything it should have, but without being too rich. On the nose, on the palette – very, very nice.
If winter means sat by a hot stove sipping this all night, then bring on the snow.

So, a result i think. On the night, 2 purchases made; Pikesville Rye and Evan WIlliams Extra Aged.

Dismiss Bourbon, Whiskey, Rye and Corn at your peril – you’re really missing out.

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