Advent Minis – Heaven Hill 8 Year Old 2009 63.5%

While Heaven Hill hasn’t directly featured in prior tasting experiences, we’re no stranger to their brands like Pikesville and Elijah Craig from their distillery stable.

This particular sample was originally bottled by The Higginbottom, which traces its whisky roots to the late 1800s, when Henry Albert Higginbottom supplied whisky for British troops. The brand was recently revived by Higginbottom’s great great grandson Leo Scott-Francis.

It was part of a cool relaxed evening in Nurnberg sampling minis from my advent calendar. What did we think?

Heaven Hill 8 Year Old 2009 (May 2009 / November 2017) Cask 152736 63.5% – The Higgbottom Revival 

  • Nose – Bourbon banana caramel with a sharpness, honey oats, a granary, wheat husks, unripe
  • Palate – Whoosh! What spice! Dry but with a nice depth
  • Finish – Full spice
  • Water – Now this one cried out for some water. And wow – how fabulous with it. Suddenly out came a cornucopia of fruits with banana, pineapple, green apple, throw in a generous dash of Demerara sugar, the flavours were fuller, colourful with an exceedingly nice after taste

This was definitely an example of a dram that grew on you… the more we sniffed and sipped – particularly after water was added – the more we enjoyed it. We clearly wished there was more than the wee 3cl!

Particularly for my companion, there was a clear new world over old world vibe – she loved the Rye and also this Bourbon vs the Dalmore or Caol Ila. Which is part of the magic of such minis – an opportunity to discover tastes and preferences with a wee nip rather than investing in a full bottle.

What do the chaps at Master of Malt have to say about this Heaven Hill?

  • Nose: Honeyed fruit and fresh florals. Spicy cedar and nutmeg.
  • Palate: Quite punchy at full strength, with clove, menthol and black pepper. A drop of water helps to bring buttered corn and sponge cake notes forward.
  • Finish: Coffee bean, dark chocolate and oak.

Here are a few others we tried from my advent calendar minis:

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Bonus Bourbon… Willett Pot Stilled Reserve 47%

Our Whisky Ladies evening closed with a Kentucky bourbon and chocolate – how fitting! This was a completely unplanned enthusiastic “I just so happen to have this great bourbon!” addition to our tasting!

The folks over at Willett (aka Kentucky Bourbon Distillers) claim a family history that harkens back to John David Willett (born in 1841) who was part of the master distiller for the Moore, Willett & Frenke Distillery. However, truth be told, these folks have actually only recently re-entered the distilling game in 2012, having stopped operations in the 1980s.

It is speculated that this particular whisky may actually be a product of Heaven Hill Distilleries – the folks that produce Elijah Craig amongst many others – using copper stills with only a pot still used for the doubler stage. Confused much?

All that matters to the Whisky Ladies is what we thought when we sampled it…

Willett Pot Still Reserve 47%

  • Nose – Well hello bourbon! Nice herbs, bubblegum sweet, slight mustiness too
  • Palate – Nice warm bourbon. some nuts, honey…
  • Finish – Great finish – a bit spicy

This was a bourbon that cried out for a cube of ice! When added? Voila! Lots of bright floral elements – overall just made it fab, Fab, FAB!!

And what do the Willett folks have to say about this whiskey?

  • Nose – Floral notes – jasmine and orange blossom, ginger, cinnamon with lots of bananas when water is added
  • Palate – Lemon, black tea, butterscotch, charcoal, citrus, nutty, honey. With water added – bananas and milk chocolate
  • Finish – Medium length, eucalyptus, herbal, rye, spicy, pepper, barber’s shop…with water added, light toffee & pecans

Very floral on the nose with wonderful citrus notes; more citrus on the palate with loads of honey & then turning quite herbal on the finish. An incredibly different and inviting array of aromas & flavors when water is added!

What else did we sample that “risky whisky” evening?

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