Cadenhead’s Heaven Hill Bourbon 17 Years Review

Cadenhead’s Heaven Hill Bourbon 17 Years Review

Cadenhead’s Heaven Hill Bourbon 17 Years is an interesting bourbon. For starters I didn’t even know Cadenhead’s did a bourbon until I saw this bottle. I thought they only dealt with scotch so to see their name on an a-typical Cadenhead’s bottle made for a brief “what the…” moment. Though what really makes this bottle interesting is the Heaven Hill fire of ’96 that destroyed their distillery.

According to the bottle this Cadenhead’s Heaven Hill Bourbon 17 Years was bottled in July 2014 which means if it went from cask to bottle, without spending any time in a steel tank, it had to be distilled between August of ’96 and July of ’97 to be 17 years. The fire that destroyed the old Heaven Hill distillery happened on November 7, 1996. So if it truly was “Distilled at Heaven Hill Distilleries in Bardstown, Kentucky” as the bottle says then this is some of the last whiskey made at the old HH distillery.

However, if the distillation happened after November 7, 1996 then that means the label is wrong and this whiskey comes from either Jim Beam or Brown-Forman (Old Forester). Both of whom HH contracted through between the time their distillery burned down and when they were able to put out their own whiskey made at the Old Bernheim distillery which they bought in ’99. A lot of us at the tasting thought it tasted a bit like Beam, but without a distillation date on the bottle it’s hard to say for sure. Anyways, on to the Cadenhead’s Heaven Hill Bourbon 17 Years review!

Cadenhead’s Heaven Hill Bourbon 17 Years Info

Region: Kentucky, USA

Distiller: Heaven HIll
Bottler: Cadenhead’s
Mashbill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley (or is it?…)
Cask: New Charred oak
Age: 17 years (1997 – 2014)
ABV: 58%

Cask Strength | Non-Chill Filtered | Natural Color

Price: $400 – $600 (auctions and specialty online retailers)

Cadenhead’s Heaven Hill Bourbon 17 Years Review

EYE
Ruddy caramel

NOSE
Dark fruit, spice, wood, peanuts, caramel and light biscuits and vanilla. It’s a nice, fairly standard, no frills, solid bourbon nose. I have no complaints and enjoyed sitting in my chair sniffing it and chatting with the guys about it.

PALATE
Wood, spice, brown sugar, peanuts, dried dark fruit and light notes of molasses and vanilla. Like the nose it’s a good bourbon flavor. Nothing special, just a solid tasty bourbon – the kind you’d bring out for an evening of good drinks and great conversation.

FINISH
Long and enjoyable with notes of brown sugar, wood, spice, a bit of peanuts and a light herbal character.

BALANCE, BODY & FEEL
Decent balance, round soft body and a warm heavy feel.

OVERALL
Cadenhead’s Heaven Hill Bourbon 17 Years is an interesting whiskey that sparked a lively discussion at the tasting and as Sku pointed out in his great review of this whiskey, and I stated above, it’s entirely possible that this isn’t actually Heaven Hill whiskey due to the Heaven Hill fire. Everyone in the group I was tasting this with has had plenty of pre-fire HH and none of us really thought that it tasted like the pre-fire HH we love.

The nose to me was a bit like old HH but the palate was much more like old Beam and the consensus in the group seemed to lean towards it having a strong “Beamness” to it. Either way, the Cadenhead’s Heaven Hill Bourbon 17 Years is a nice whiskey. It’s missing any real depth, that oomph, to push it over the top, and water didn’t do much to improve complexity. While not overly exciting it is a good bourbon and I’d be happy to sip on it any day.

SCORE: 87-89/100 (B+, consumed at a tasting)

Cadenhead’s Heaven Hill Bourbon 17 Years Review - Score Breakdown
  • Nose - 89
  • Palate - 89
  • Finish - 89
  • Balance, Body & Feel - 89

Summary

Cadenhead’s Heaven Hill Bourbon 17 Years is a good, interesting, bourbon with a lot to offer, but it’s not likely you’ll find one lounging on a shelf anywhere and instead is something you’ll have to get from a private collector, auction or specialty store.

Cadenhead’s Heaven Hill Bourbon 17 Years Label

Josh Peters
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Josh Peters

I read about, think about, write about, and drink whisk(e)y. In short, it's my passion.
Josh Peters
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4 Responses to Cadenhead’s Heaven Hill Bourbon 17 Years Review

  1. This cask is from the old Heaven Hill distilled before the fire.
    Mark Watt from Cadenhead told us that during the Cadenhead Masterclass at the Springbank Open Day in May 2014. This was a bonus dram. And what a dram. This was the winner during that tasting in my mouth. So happy to have secured a bottle at the original retail price.

  2. Where can I buy a bottle? I am a Cadenhead and would love to have a bottle labelled with the family name. I live in Ohio.

    • The bourbon you can’t get in the USA anymore, but you can get Cadenhead’s releases in a lot of higher end liquor stores. Binny’s might be the closest to you that I know of, but there might be some stores in Ohio that carry them.

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