November 16, 2018
HOW WE MADE OUR 27-YEAR-OLD BARREL PROOF BOURBON
We’re proud to announce the release a limited-edition, 27-year-old Barrel Proof Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon.
Over the past eight decades, we’ve listened to consumers every step of the way, and they’ve made it clear that the history, people, and stories behind our products are tantamount to the liquid inside the bottle.
When we came across more than 40 barrels of pre-fire whiskey distilled by our late Master Distiller Parker Beam, we recognized an opportunity to produce a rare and special bottling.
Decades of Aging
All the barrels used in the production of this release were distilled by Master Distiller Parker Beam and filled between 1989 and 1990, meaning they all survived the 1996 fire that destroyed Old Heaven Hill Springs Distillery.
Furthermore, when the barrels were mingled, the natural proof was a surprisingly low 94.7, allowing us to produce a unique barrel proof product.
A 27-year-old barrel proof whiskey is hard to imagine when barrel proof typically implies whiskeys (often far younger than this) will have proofs well north of 110. That surprising proof point was achieved by choosing nearly every barrel for this release from the lower floors of our warehouses where temps are mostly cool.
Under those conditions, more whiskey than water evaporates from the barrel, lowering proof in the process. The opposite happens on upper floors, where temps soar to 115 degrees or more, and water evaporation occurs more rapidly.
With this selection of pre-fire, Parker-distilled, irreproducible whiskey sitting on our campus, we were confident we could make a powerful statement – not just on the label, but in the mouths of our fans.
One of 2,820
The HH-logoed wood box created for this one-off bottle is simply amazing and worthy of the whiskey inside. The liquid is bottled in an elegant, tall 750ml bottle placed in a custom wooden box. The bottle is secured in the box with magnetic closure and sits in a blue satin-lined base. The distiller’s notes label features hand-written bottle number, distiller tasting notes, and DSP KY-31, denoting the Old Heaven Hill Springs Distillery.
Selection by Rejection
Our five-member tasting panel didn’t sample barrels hoping to find the best-tasting liquids. We took the opposite tack by eliminating barrels that were off – ones that were musty or where the whiskey had a bad mouthfeel or was extremely tannic.
When priority becomes acknowledging and kicking out what doesn’t belong, the batch gets narrowed quickly. It also makes things a little easier because all the liquid in each approved barrel was mingled in the final batch.
That’s different from how a batch of Evan Williams gets mingled, for example. In that case, a certain number of barrels from our warehouses’ upper, middle, and lower floors are selected to achieve the optimal profile balance.
For the 41-barrel lot used in this production, it was all in, not a drop neglected.
Low proof or not, 27-year-old whiskey is powerfully flavorful. No spirit spends that much time in a barrel without undergoing major change. Ultra-long-aging Bourbon is also wickedly unpredictable science.
While our eight decades of experience gives us great confidence that our 8-, 10- and 12-year-old whiskeys will taste incredible every time, when pushing the aging envelope, you never know what you’ll get until you thieve that barrel.
We expected this Bourbon to have good spice, heavy vanilla, and caramel, but what exact oak flavors the liquid acquired would be a wild card after almost three decades in a barrel.
The nose on this Bourbon told us immediately, though, that we’d hit the target: Vanilla, caramel, dark fruit—an amazing aroma that delivers you mentally into a whiskey warehouse.
The Bourbon is full-bodied and delicious without being overly tannic. Despite its age, it also lacks the super-dry finish so common to old maturate.
The fact that 41 barrels survived three decades of unpredictable forces to make this release is equal parts miracle and discipline.
Check out our blockchain feature to truly understand how this release was made. You’ll be able to see where the barrels came from, the average proofs and yields from each warehouse, and what barrels were lost along the way.