Home Food & Wine From Grudge to Glass: Rediscovering Heaven Hill 7-Year-Old Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

From Grudge to Glass: Rediscovering Heaven Hill 7-Year-Old Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

Heaven Hill 7-Year-Old Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon
Heaven Hill 7-Year-Old Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon

I used to hold a grudge against Heaven Hill 7-Year-Old Bottled-in-Bond bourbon—not because of what it is, but because of what it used to be.

For years, one of the world’s best-kept whiskey secrets was Heaven Hill’s 6-Year-Old Bottled-in-Bond bourbon. Priced under $20, it drank like a bourbon twice its price. The catch? It was only available in Kentucky, making it a hidden gem for bourbon enthusiasts who would stock up on visits to the Bluegrass State. In 2018, Heaven Hill discontinued the 6-Year Bottled-in-Bond, citing increased national whiskey demand that made regional products impractical. Fans hoarded the remaining bottles while resellers charged hundreds. In 2019, Heaven Hill introduced its successor—a 7-Year-Old Bottled-in-Bond with a stylish label, set apart from their entry-level bourbons.

I should have celebrated its return, but instead, the more than double price of the new release dampened the excitement. Initially available in only eight states, none of which I live in, it remained scarce and budget-unfriendly. Many whiskey lovers found it underwhelming.

This was particularly disappointing given Heaven Hill’s long-standing commitment to the bottled-in-bond standard. The distillery has been producing such whiskey since 1939 and now claims to produce more bottled-in-bond than any other distillery. Their lineup includes the Henry McKenna 10-Year-Old Bottled-in-Bond, once a $30 steal, now considerably pricier, and Rittenhouse Rye, with its barely-legal mash bill (51% rye) and sub-$30 price tag, one of the few remaining bargains.

Recently, Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond became widely available across the country, settling at around $50—a solid median price for a solid median bourbon. After finally getting my hands on a bottle, I reframed my perspective. Instead of viewing the 7-Year-Old as a pricier version of its predecessor, I now see it as an affordable, slightly younger alternative to Henry McKenna Bottled-in-Bond, sharing the same mash bill: 78% corn, 12% barley, and 10% rye.

With this new mindset, I began to appreciate its qualities. Heaven Hill 7-Year-Old Bottled-in-Bond embodies the essence of bourbon. In a market flooded with over-the-top, unbalanced offerings, this traditionally made, respectably aged bourbon, with its 100-proof strength, stands out.

What I love most about Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond is its subtle but undeniable edge—something akin to what wine aficionados call “cut.” This whiskey is no-nonsense. It doesn’t cloy or pander. It’s enjoyable neat, from a flask, on the rocks, or mixed into classics like the Manhattan or Old Fashioned.

Concerns about the higher price are valid. For fun, I blind-tasted Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond against another bottled-in-bond bourbon without an age statement, costing about half as much. The Heaven Hill bourbon excelled in every way, tasting refined, mature, concise, and complex.

Now, I always keep a bottle of 7-Year-Old on hand. When I want to reach for the good stuff—not the great stuff, not the wild stuff, and certainly not the cheap stuff—it’s my go-to. Let others hold a grudge. I’ll hold a glass.