Three Heaven Hill Bourbons You Need To Try

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Heaven Hill Distillery makes a wide range of bourbons. In this article, we'll take a detailed look at three of their core products (Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon, Larceny Bourbon and Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon) and help you decide which one best suits your taste.

Heaven Hill Distillery produces a lot of different bourbons, over a wide range of price points and styles. They make everything from “bottom shelf” blended whiskeys, to highly sought after bottles, like the Old Fitzgerald Decanters. The three bourbons that we are going to discuss today, are all solid core members of the Heaven Hill line, falling in the $28-$50 price range. In addition, each one of these bourbons is representative of a specific category of bourbon produced by Heaven Hill.

Three Different Types of Bourbon

So, you may be thinking “Isn’t all bourbon basically the same”? Well, in fact, it is not, and there are actually quite a few factors to consider. First, similar to cooking, every bourbon starts off with its own recipe. Known as the “mash bill”, there is no standard, one-size-fits-all recipe for bourbon, but there are guidelines. In order for a whiskey to be classified as a bourbon, the mash bill must contain at least 51% corn. The remainder can be made up of any malted or unmalted cereal grains, including more corn. So, the possibilities are limitless.

Second, even if two bourbons are made from identical recipes, they are still unlikely to taste the same, or even similar. There are many other variables that contribute to a bourbon’s flavor. For example, the strain of yeast used to ferment the mash, the type of still used for distillation, the type of barrel used for aging, the length of time the bourbon ages and where it ages, amongst other factors. So, with this many variables involved, it is easy to see why bourbons each achieve their own distinct flavor profiles.

Now that we understand everything that affects the flavor of a bourbon, let’s take a look at our three Heaven Hill Bourbons: Elijah Craig Small Batch, Larceny & Heaven Hill Bottled-In-Bond.

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon

Bottle - Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon Review - Three Heaven Hill Bourbons

Elijah Craig Small Batch is the core bourbon of the Elijah Craig line. The brand is named after Elijah Craig, who as a story goes, is the first person to have aged whiskey in charred oak barrels. Elijah Craig was a Baptist preacher and entrepreneur, originally from Orange County, Virginia. He started his distillery in what is now Georgetown, KY, back in 1789. In addition to distilling, he founded the town of Georgetown (originally called Lebanon) and donated the land that would become Georgetown College.

The packaging of Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon honors all of this history. The front of the bottle is adorned with “Father of Bourbon” and “First to Char Oak Barrels”, as well as the year 1789.

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon can be considered a “standard” or “rye” bourbon. It is distilled from Heaven Hill’s main bourbon mash bill, known as HH Reg. The mash bill consists of 78% corn, 10% rye & 12% malted barley. The small batch is made by blending no more than 250 barrels of bourbon aged from 8-12 years. It is bottled at 94 proof and has a MSRP of $27-$30.

Other whiskeys in the Elijah Craig family include Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Bourbon, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Bourbon, Elijah Craig Rye and various well-aged releases ranging in age from 18-23 years.

Let’s taste it:

🛏 Rested for 15 minutes in a Glencairn

👉🏻Nose: Tan caramel, vanilla, light rye spices, brown sugar; sweet cherries and dark plums; dry oak; mild to moderate alcohol
👉🏻Taste: Caramel, cherries; mild simple syrup sweetness
👉🏻Finish: Developing dry oak and tannins; mild capsaicin spice; medium length finish; minimal burn; lingering dry oakiness

Elijah Craig Small Batch Bourbon has classic bourbon flavors, with sweet cherries, caramel, vanilla and dry oak noticeable from the start, with similar flavors continuing into the taste. The finish becomes more dry, with tannins, white pepper spice, and dry oak. The dry oak and a bit of barrel char linger on for a long time. It’s a very pleasant pour and one that most seasoned bourbon drinkers, as well as people new to bourbon, will enjoy.

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Larceny Bourbon

Bottle - Larceny Bourbon Review - Three Heaven Hill Bourbons

Larceny Bourbon draws its name from a man called John E. Fitzgerald. It turns out, as with almost everything relating to bourbon’s history, there are a few different stories regarding who Fitzgerald was. The favored version, and the one that Heaven Hill bases this bourbon brand on, is that Fitzgerald was a U.S. Treasury agent charged with overseeing bonded warehouses used for aging whiskey. His position gave him access to these warehouses, which he apparently took ample advantage of. As the story goes, Fitzgerald, enjoyed only the finest bourbons. Therefore, having full run of the house, he would help himself from his favorite barrels. Larceny Bourbon commemorates his ongoing theft.

Larceny Bourbon is the core offering in Heaven Hill’s line of wheated bourbons. What is a wheated bourbon, you may be wondering? As per the rules, bourbon has to be made from a mash bill that contains at least 51% corn. Other than that, there is usually a secondary or “flavoring grain”, which is most commonly rye (as in Elijah Craig Small Batch). There is also usually a small amount of malted barley, to provide enzymes. However, in a wheated bourbon, the secondary grain is wheat, rather than rye. Wheat gives bourbon a distinctly different character than rye.

Larceny Bourbon is made from a mash bill of 68% corn, 20% wheat & 12% malted barley. Heaven Hill blends around 200 barrels of bourbon, aged 6-8 years, to create each batch. It is then bottled at 92 proof and carries a MSRP of ~$30.

Other whiskeys in Heaven Hill’s wheated bourbon family include Larceny Barrel Proof, Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond, and Old Fitzgerald Prime (a blend of wheated and rye bourbons).

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Let’s taste it:

🛏 Rested for 15 minutes in a Glencairn

👉🏻Nose: Sweet butterscotch and light brown sugar; vanilla, dark cherry, bit of cedar and orange peel; hint of rich milk chocolate; relatively mild alcohol
👉🏻Taste: Moderately sweet and fairly light bodied, with light caramel, light honey and simple syrup; hint of milk chocolate
👉🏻Finish: Flash of brighter fruit, like peach; Rapidly growing black pepper spice; fairly long with some developing dryness, tannins and char; moderate warmth

Larceny Bourbon’s nose is rich and inviting with confectionary like flavors with some added tartness from orange peel. The taste is pleasant, but less intense than would be expected from the nose. The finish is noticeably drier, with tannins and black pepper spice that lingers. Larceny Bourbon is well suited to those who enjoy their bourbon a bit on the lighter side, or for those new to bourbon.

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Heaven Hill Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon 7 Year

Bottle - Heaven Hill Bottled In Bond Bourbon Review - Three Heaven Hill Bourbons

Heaven Hill Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon is a nod back to the early days of Heaven Hill (Springs) Distillery. Although their first bourbon was barreled back in 1935, the Shapira brothers elected to wait to release it until it could be classified as Bottled-In-Bond. That meant that they had to age their bourbon at least 4 years. But, why would they do this. and why was the Bottled-In-Bond distinction so important? Simply, it guaranteed quality. The Bottled-In-Bond Act of 1897 requires a spirit to be aged at least 4 years in wooden barrels, to be the product of one distiller and one distilling season, to be bottled at exactly 100 proof (for the U.S. market), and, probably most importantly, no additives other than water are allowed.

Heaven Hill Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon is made from the HH Reg mash bill (78% corn, 10% rye & 12% malted barley) just like Elijah Craig Bourbon. However, due to the different aging conditions, proof and barrel effects, it has a noticeably different flavor profile. It is aged for 7 years, bottled at 100 proof (as per the BiB regulations) and has an MSRP of ~$49.99.

Other whiskeys in Heaven Hill’s Bottled-In-Bond (BiB) family include Old Fitzgerald BiB, Evan Williams BiB, J.T.S. Brown BiB, J.W. Dant BiB and T.W. Samuels BiB Bourbons, Rittenhouse Rye and Mellow Corn, Heaven Hill’s Bottled-In-Bond corn whiskey.

Let’s taste it:

🛏 Rested for 15 minutes in a Glencairn

👉🏻Nose: Dark cherries, caramel, vanilla, powdered sugar, light mild chocolate; cedar and dry oak; moderate alcohol
👉🏻Taste: Fairly sweet with cherries, caramel and oak; rapidly developing tannins and white pepper spice
👉🏻Finish: Lingering sweetness and cherries, but also tannins with growing but never overpowering white pepper spice; spice and dry oak continue for a while, with a touch of char later on; fairly long finish with a moderate burn

Heaven Hill Bottled-In-Bond also has classic bourbon flavors. They are fairly fruit forward and rich from the start, becoming dryer and spicier in the long finish. It’s another very enjoyable bourbon, well suited to bourbon drinkers looking for classic bourbon flavors.

So, Which of the Three Heaven Hill Bourbons to Choose?

Drinking these bourbons side by side really allows me to notice their similarities and differences. The Elijah Craig and Heaven Hill Bottled-In-Bond definitely have some similar characteristics. Where they differ, is that overall, the Elijah Craig comes off as an older bourbon, mainly due to the noticeable dry oak throughout, and an overall drier feel. The Heaven Hill Bottled-In-Bond is a full flavored and rich bourbon which I would think would appeal to most bourbon drinkers, regardless of their specific preferences. Larceny also does have some similarities to the others, but is a bit different. While the flavors in its nose are probably the most confectionary-like of the bunch, it is more lighter bodied in the taste. The finish does bring some spice, dry oak, char and tannins, similar to the others.

To sum it up, these are all very good bourbons. The Heaven Hill Bottled-In-Bond is the most balanced of the group, Elijah Craig becomes a bit tilted towards dry oak, and, Larceny heads the other direction, being lighter in body with “smoother” flavors, thanks to the wheat in its mash bill.

Conclusion

We have discussed three Heaven Hill bourbons, each from different bourbon families. These include a “standard” or “rye” bourbon, a “wheated” bourbon and a Bottled-In-Bond Bourbon (which also happens to be a “rye” bourbon). These bourbons’ flavor profiles have both similarities to, as well as differences from, each other. At least one of these bourbons will likely suit any bourbon drinker’s taste. Hopefully we provided a little guidance on choosing which one is best for you. But, why not try a flight of all three and compare them yourself? There’s no better way to find your favorite! When you do, let me know! Cheers!🥃

Would you like to learn more about visiting Heaven Hill? Then you’ll want to read our Heaven Hill Bourbon Experience Review! You can also read about a couple of more Heaven Hill Bourbons in our Elijah Craig Toasted Barrel Bourbon Review and our Old Fitzgerald 14 Year Bourbon Review.

Thank you to Heaven Hill Distillery for providing the bourbons for this review!

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