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Ranking The Core Whiskey Brands From Heaven Hill Distillery

Heaven Hill is one of the biggest distillers in the world. They make 13 American whiskey brands that they release under their own labels. That’s out of the 32 brands of alcohol they distill altogether — from rums to brandies to Canadian whisky and beyond. Then there’s all the stuff they make for bottlers to slap their own labels on. Plus the bourbons they produce exclusively for the Kentucky market.

We’re telling you, it’s a lot.

Today, we’re going to focus on the 13 American whiskey labels Heaven Hill produces in its core line, highlighting the best expression from each shingle. These bottles range pretty wildly in popularity from “oh yeah… that exists” to “that might just be the best whiskey I’ve ever tried”-territory. Our rankings are based purely on taste. We didn’t worry much about price or find-ability here.

If any of these bottles jump out at you, make sure to click on the prices to try them yourself.

13. Georgia Moon Corn Whiskey

Heaven Hill

ABV: 40%

Average Price: $16

The Whiskey:

Georgia Moon is a classic unaged corn whiskey. The juice in this mason jar is cut down with Kentucky water to soften it up while cooling it down, making it a bit more palatable to the passive sipper.

Tasting Notes:

This smells like rum … almost. There’s a sweetness at play, thanks to the corn, with a hint of dark spice and dried fruit. The rest gets washed out with a touch of mineral water and stiff alcohol burn. The end does have a touch of vanilla ice cream but it’s more airy soft serve than a pint of something good.

Bottom Line:

It’s hard to say when to drink this. It’s not bad but… it’s definitely an acquired taste. You could use it as a substitute for vodka in cocktails but there are plenty of vodkas at this price point that are more refined. I guess that’s why this is ranked last.

12. Mellow Corn Whiskey

Heaven Hill

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $17

The Whiskey:

This corn whiskey has a 90 percent corn mash bill with a dose of rye and malted barley in the mix. The juice is bottled-in-bond, which means it was aged for four years in a bonded warehouse in used charred oak barrels.

Tasting Notes:

You get this nose full of circus peanuts and almost stale popcorn upfront with a hint of dry cinnamon sticks. The taste has a floral greenness that’s similar to a corn stalk with a sweet corn milk husk at the core of the sip. The finish ends hot with a sweet and grainy feel to it.

Bottom Line:

I always want to like this more than I do. I think that if there’s a nostalgia factor at play with this bottle, then it’s easy to love. Without that, it’s hard to get into.

11. Fighting Cock Bourbon

Heaven Hill

ABV: 51.5%

Average Price: $20

The Whiskey:

This bourbon used to come in six and eight-year-old versions. Now, it’s released without an age statement but is likely aged at least four years in Heaven Hill’s warehouses.

Tasting Notes:

This opens up with a good rush of red cherries soaking in maple syrup with some Johnny cakes stacked up nearby. The palate has a salted caramel kettle corn vibe with a hint of woody spice and a touch of vanilla extract. The end is short, sweet, and touches back on that soaked cherry and corn cake feel.

Bottom Line:

I wasn’t sure where to rank this. It’s fine. But there’s nothing that really stands out or wows. That being said, what more could you want from a $20 bottle of bourbon? It’s good for what it is and that’s a mixer.

10. Rittenhouse Straight Rye Whisky Bottled-in-Bond

Heaven Hill

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $28

The Whiskey:

This rye is very much a bourbon drinker’s rye. The mash bill is only 51 percent rye with 37 percent corn, and 12 percent malted barley. The juice then matures under the federal regulations allowing it to be “bottled-in-bond” and is barely proofed down to 100 proof with that soft Kentucky limestone water before bottling.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a savory note that’s maybe dill or pumpkin next to toffee and dried fruit. On the taste, there’s a real sense of cinnamon-infused dark chocolate with notes of Christmas spice, creamy vanilla, and a mild tobacco chew. The end doesn’t linger and leaves you with a warm bite of cinnamon spice and tobacco buzz.

Bottom Line:

I actually thought this would rank a little higher. But again, this falls into the “solid mixer” box more than anything else. There’s really no reason to reach for this one as a sipper.

9. Pikesville Straight Rye Whiskey

Heaven Hill

ABV: 55%

Average Price: $54

The Whiskey:

This is a real throwback rye whiskey. Pikesville Rye was at the center of the Maryland rye whiskey scene until Prohibition put it in the grave. Heaven Hill saved the brand and moved the production to Kentucky while holding onto the juice’s traditions of longer aging and higher proofing.

Tasting Notes:

This pulls you in with a mix of dark cocoa powder packed into a cedar box with a touch of rye bread. The taste leans into clove and black licorice with a floral honey base next to a touch of dry cedar smoke. The end mellows significantly towards a vanilla pudding spiked with eggnog spices and a touch more of that dark chocolate.

Bottom Line:

This is one of the biggest steps up on this list. That being said, we really start amping up in quality from here, so this couldn’t go much higher. Still, this is a perfectly serviceable workhorse whiskey that shines over a few rocks in a glass or in a cocktail.

8. Bernheim Original Wheat Whiskey

Heaven Hill

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $32

The Whiskey:

While wheated bourbons are all the rage at the moment (Pappy and Weller being the most sought-after examples), wheat whiskies have not quite hit as resoundingly … yet. Bernheim Original Wheat Whiskey flips the script on those bourbons and uses mostly winter wheat that’s supported by small doses of corn and malted barley. The juice is then aged for seven years in new oak.

Tasting Notes:

There’s a honey sweetness that works well with the grain and vanilla on the nose. The sip hits on notes of spice, bright berries, and buttery toffee with a velvet body. The end brings about round, toasted oakiness with a little more of the spice and buttery toffee as it fades across the senses.

Bottom Line:

Like a few bottles on this list, the awards are starting to roll in for this whiskey. This really is a hidden gem that’s still pretty damn cheap, all things considered.

7. Evan Williams — Evan Williams Bottled-in-Bond

Heaven Hill

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $18

The Whiskey:

The juice is standard Evan Williams that’s barreled in a federally overseen warehouse. Then, after those barrels are blended, the juice is just brought down to 100 proof, allowing a bit more of that Heaven Hill craft to shine in the bottle.

Tasting Notes:

This opens with a dry cornmeal base next to salted caramel, rich vanilla, and a touch of that oak. The palate adds in whiffs of black pepper next to musty cellar wood and a hint of spicy, chewy tobacco. The end is short-ish while highlighting the sweet cornmeal, spicy tobacco, and rich vanilla.

Bottom Line:

This is just a good goddamn whiskey. It’s very drinkable on the rocks, in a highball, and especially in a cocktail. It’s not overly wrought, making it the best shooter on the list.

All around, this is a winner. The only reason it’s not ranked higher is that every whiskey below is a stone-cold killer.

6. Larceny Bourbon — Larceny Barrel Proof 2021 Second Edition

Heaven Hill

ABV: 60.5%

Average Price: $75

The Whiskey:

These barrel blends from Heaven Hill are meant to highlight the precise quality of the distillery’s prowess from grain to bottle. This small batch of wheated bourbon is derived from barrels between six and eight years old. The juice then goes right into the bottle with no cutting or filtering, allowing the masterful craft to shine through in every sip.

Tasting Notes:

This has a mellow nose that ebbs and flows between soft maple syrup cut with cinnamon sticks, a light touch of brioche, new leather gloves, and bruised apples. It offers a warm rollercoaster ride through figgy puddings touched with burnt sugars, dried fruits and nuts, holiday spices, and a brandy butter silkiness. The taste has a hint of almond or walnut shell on the end that marries to a dry mouthfeel, vanilla, and a touch of tobacco chewiness.

The warmth lingers pretty long but never overpowers and almost becomes halfway between fizzy and buzzing as it fades, leaving you with a woody, bourbon vibe and a very late wet straw note.

Bottom Line:

There’s a reason this wheated bourbon has been winning all the top awards. It’s consistently delicious and refined. It might not be my exact cup o’ tea, but I respect the hell out of it and use it in cocktails all the time at home.

5. Parker’s Heritage Collection — Promise Of Hope Bourbon

Heaven Hill

ABV: 48%

Average Price: $900

The Whiskey:

This yearly release from Heaven Hill is, indeed, rare. The edition from 2013 was a personal mission for Parker Beam. He selected 100 barrels of high-rye bourbons that are at least ten years old for this expression. Those barrels were married and then proofed down to a very accessible 96 proof.

Tasting Notes:

Imagine a still-warm apple pie full of spices, brown sugar, buttery crust, walnuts, and maybe even a raisin or two topped with the richest vanilla ice cream scoop you’ve ever had and you’ll be on the right track. This smells and tastes like home on a summer day with that perfect apple pie vibe up front that mellows towards a stack of pancakes smothered in browned butter and maple syrup as a note of tobacco chew warms up the back of your throat. The end is very long and full of a sweet maple syrup tobacco buzz.

Bottom Line:

If you can find a bottle of Parker’s Heritage on the shelf, snatch it up. It’ll increase in value. Or just drink it. These whiskeys are always one-off masterpieces.

4. Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond

Heaven Hill

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $60

The Whiskey:

This expression has been a touchstone bottled-in-bond since 1939 and remains a go-to for many bourbon lovers. The juice is a very low rye (only ten percent) mash bill that’s left to age for an extra three years.

Tasting Notes:

The nose on this is like a vanilla ice cream scoop that’s been drizzled with salted caramel and then dipped in dried honeysuckle petals inside an old leather pouch. That caramel and dried floral honey feel drive the taste towards a somewhat dry Graham cracker maltiness with a touch more of that leather and a whisper of toffee tobacco. The end leans into an eggnog spice mix with more of that sweet and buttery tobacco and a final note of sweet cherry and old cellar beams.

Bottom Line:

This is another one of those bottles that are annoyingly well made. It feels like classic bourbon from nose to finish and leaves you feeling … happy. It’s kind of like Evan William’s more beautiful and richer older sibling.

3. Henry McKenna Single Barrel Aged 10 Years Bottled-in-Bond

Heaven Hill

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $62

The Whiskey:

Henry McKenna Single Barrel Bottled-in-Bond continues its winning streak. The ten-year-old bourbon is a real crowd-pleaser that offers serious depth, which makes it great for both sipping and mixing.

Tasting Notes:

This is classic bourbon from jump, with rich and almost creamy vanilla pudding spiked with eggnog spices next to a salted caramel carnival apple. The palate mellows the sweetness towards cinnamon-spiced honey with hints of soft cedar, apple tobacco, and smooth vanilla. The end is long and really holds onto the honeyed sweetness while touching on the warmth of the eggnog spiciness.

Bottom Line:

This only ranked higher than the bottled-in-bond above because of the age. There are 10-year-old bourbons on the shelf right now that cost three or four times as much that aren’t necessarily any better. That means a lot, especially if you’re trying to find older and more refined whiskeys to try.

2. Elijah Craig — Elijah Craig 18

Heaven Hill

ABV: 45%

Average Price: $260

The Whiskey:

This is what you get when you take standard Elijah Craig and let it rest in just the right spot for 18 years. The 18-year-old barrel is hand-selected after a long search through the warehouses. Once selected, the juice is cooled slightly with that soft Kentucky limestone water and then bottled.

Tasting Notes:

You get a sense of oak with a touch of a rock-hewn cellar next to notes of dark chocolate oranges, mild brown spices, a touch of vanilla cream, and a hint of honey. That vanilla takes on a nutty edge as the spices build and the wood softens towards cedar with a hint of fruity tobacco chew. The vanilla creaminess really drives the finish towards a silken mouthfeel with plenty of spicy/fruity tobacco, leaving you with a mild buzz across your senses.

Bottom Line:

It would have been so easy to put a Barrel Proof expression in this slot. And those are great. But this is better. This is one of those whiskeys that’ll break you through to the other side, where you’ll bask in the light of what a great whiskey can be.

1. Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond — 2021 Spring Release, Aged 8 Years

Heaven Hill

ABV: 50%

Average Price: $85 (MSRP)

The Whiskey:

This year’s spring release is a marriage of eight-year-old whiskeys produced in the spring of 2013. That distilled juice rested in barrels spread throughout three warehouses on several different floors. In spring of this year, those barrels were vatted and whiskey was proofed down to 100 (per bottled-in-bond law). Then the whiskey was filled into Old Fitzgerald’s signature decanters and sent out into the world.

Tasting Notes:

The nose draws you in with warming eggnog spice, creamy vanilla pudding, rich toffee, mild fruit, and a hint of wet cedar and very muted citrus. To say this is “smooth” would be an understatement. The silky taste dances around oven-hot pans of pecan and maple-glazed sticky buns with plenty of cinnamon and nutmeg next to caramelized orange peel vibes and lightness that’s almost hard to believe. The finish is long, effervescent, and leaves you with this soft sense of having just eaten the best oatmeal raisin cookie of your life with just the right amounts of oats, spice, raisins, brown sugar, and crumble.

Bottom Line:

This is perfect and is in competition to be my favorite release of the year. It has some hefty competition, but this whiskey is going to be hundreds of dollars by the time summer is over. Still, it’s likely worth it for a truly special bourbon experience.


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