Origin: Kentucky (USA)
Type: Single Cask Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Ageing cask: Virgin American Oak
Additional coloring: No
Owner: Valinch & Mallet Ltd.
Average price: € 59.00
Official website: www.valinchandmallet.com
We conclude the tour of Valinch & Mallet’s latest releases with a bottle from the Private Cask Selection series, crossing the ocean and ending up in the United States with a Bourbon, distilled in 2009 and aged in a single virgin American oak barrel, bottled in a limited edition of 340 bottles.
Heaven Hill is one of the largest American distilleries, founded at the height of Prohibition in 1935 and based in Bardstown in the heart of the cradle of bourbon, Kentucky.
It’s one of the seven main distilleries in the United States, second only in the production of Bourbon and the first of the family-run distilleries.
Initially founded by a group of investors, it was soon taken over entirely by the Shapira family (which still owns it today), with the Master Distillers belonging to the Beam family from the outset, and under the name of Old Heavenhill Springs it marketed (and produced) only Bourbon, which went under the two main labels Evan Williams and Elijah Craig, only diversifying its portfolio in the last twenty years with gin, vodka and various spirits acquired from other brands or imported.
In 1996 their production facility burned to the ground in a devastating fire, forcing the company to source from neighbours Brown-Forman and Jim Beam, until they bought and refitted a distillery in Louisville three years later, which was sold by Diageo: this is where the distillate is still produced today, with maturation and bottling at the original site in Bradstown.
As you would expect, the owners hold their family tradition in high regard, with the Heaven Hill Distilleries Bourbon Heritage Center opened in 2004 celebrating their success story.
Gold with amber highlights in the glass.
Sweet corn fills the nostrils, covered with plenty of honey and vanilla. There is also a strong herbaceous component, of freshly cut hay, accompanied by fruit (melon, plums) and a hint of lemon. Base of balsamic note. Lacquered wood. It’s a harmony of sweetness and freshness, whose delicacy is only just tempered by the artificial edge of the wood.
Warmer on the palate than on the nose, it initially presents itself with a decisive spiciness that loses a little of the freshness it brought to the nose, with cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg and a touch of rhubarb. The “chemical” note of the wood becomes stronger, bringing out a more bitter and acidic core. The sweet notes remain in the background, but over the length they become more present, following the nose, just as the balsamic aspect tends to stand out more as the minutes pass. The aromas have to be allowed to settle, and you find yourself with a new balance, suspended between the bitter and the balsamic, regaining the freshness that seemed to have been dormant on first entry.
The finish is long and balsamic, with hints of vanilla, corn, nutmeg and wood.
A whiskey that takes time, with respect to that spent in cask, and you are rewarded with a more complex dram than at first glance, well structured and satisfying.