Behind what is already the twenty-second window of That Boutique-y Whisky Company’s 2019 Advent Calendar we will be reviewing each day until the 24th of December was hidden a Heaven Hill 9yo batch 1 American Whiskey, bottled at 48.4% abv by that Boutique-y Whisky Company. Heaven Hill distillery is the biggest independent and family-owned American distillery, with brands like Elijah Craig, Evan Williams, Rittenhouse Rye, Old Fitzgerald and many others. In 1935, just two years after the end of prohibition in the United States, five sons of a Lithuanian store owner, the Shapira brothers, invested in a fledging distillery and soon became the sole owners. Nowadays, the second and third generations are managing the distillery which is one of the biggest barrel holders, with 58 rickhouses hosting 1.6 million barrels! Though on the 7th of November 1996, a disastrous fire ravaged Heaven Hill’s Bardstown plant, with flames 300 to 400 feet high and that could be seen up to 20 miles around, burning 90 000 barrels in a mere 4 hours but amazingly without nobody hurt. This batch 1 had an outturn of 1 177 bottles and can still be found on Master of Malt for £44.95 at the time of writing.
Coldorak: Loads of vanilla, butter and caramel, honey, and a pinch of pepper. Green apples bring a bit of acidity, and maple syrup a sugary side to the nose. With water, vanilla stays on the front, complemented with some malt.
Ainulindalë: Quite immediately a sweet vanilla, almost sugary over some ripe peaches. There’s a slight oak behind it, a bit quiet and some floral notes I can’t pinpoint. Violets?
Coldorak: Sweet and slightly pepperish arrival, with a bit thin mouthfeel. Caramel and oak take the front, soon joined by the green apples and the maple syrup from the nose. Reduction gets the mouthfeel to be creamier, and brings a sugary feeling.
Ainulindalë: The mouth starts with vanilla obviously – it is American! It displays a very toned down stone fruit thing at the very beginning but it’s all overpowered by the vanilla. The latter goes up and up and culminates with a very sweet almost earthy tone. Is there corn or rye in this one?
Coldorak: The finish is medium long and warm, with caramel and oak spices.
Ainulindalë: The finish is medium length all about earth, wet, damp, as if it rained. Not musty, not bad, but not my thing. It is also a bit spicy – chili peppers I’d say.
Coldorak: It was my first Heaven Hill and didn’t know what to expect, and I’ve not been disappointed. It lacked a wee bit of complexity but both the nose and the palate were pleasant. An easy dram to sip.
Ainulindalë: Overall typical of the things I’m not a fan of in American whiskey. Sweet, viscous, earthy. Not really my thing.