If you’re an American whiskey fan, then seeing a bottle of Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond will likely get your mouth watering, your pupils dilating just a bit, and a smile creasing your cheeks for two reasons. First, the Heaven Hill name signifies quality — they’ve been at it for more than 85 years now, making some of the best and most respected whiskeys in all of Kentucky. And then there’s the “bottled-in-bond” moniker, which, as savvy drinkers know, means that it’s made the right way. And that’s why it makes such a great gift — when you give this one, you’re not just saying, “Hey, you’re a class act — you deserve the good stuff.” You’re showing off your own discerning taste, too. There’s a lot to love about this bourbon, and here are just a few of its niftier attributes.
1. It’s American History in a Bottle
American whiskey in the 19th century was an unregulated, anything-goes business. Buy a bottle of bourbon and you could wind up with some kind of artificially colored grain spirit with anything from prune juice to tobacco to turpentine added for flavoring. Whiskey drinkers risked their health, even their lives, with every drink. The federal government at the time wasn’t exactly known for flexing its muscles on behalf of consumers, but in 1897, Congress — many of whose members were known to enjoy a sip or two of the hard stuff themselves — stepped in and passed the very first consumer protection act in its history, the Bottled-in-Bond Act. It’s a landmark both in the history of bourbon, and America itself. History buffs will love Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond not just for the taste, but for the rabbit holes it will lead them down.
2. “Bottled-in-Bond” Isn’t Just a Catchy Marketing Phrase
There are some pretty stringent rules, established by the federal government, in place for a bourbon to be labeled “bottled-in-bond.” (Other spirits can be bonded as well, but the practice applies primarily to bourbon.) It must be distilled by one distiller at one American distillery during a single six-month distilling season; it has to be aged at least four years in a federally supervised, or bonded, warehouse (hence the name); it has to be bottled at exactly 100 proof, or 50 percent ABV; and it has to bear the name and number of the licensed distillery where it was produced and bottled. These regulations ensure two things. First, that you’re not going to get unscrupulous distillers taking shortcuts or otherwise messing around with your bourbon. And second, you’re going to get something that tastes great.
3. It Hits the “Sweet Spot”
Bottled-in-bond bourbon only needs to be aged four years, and you’ll get few complaints about a well-made bonded bourbon of that age. But many distillers and connoisseurs agree that the optimal time for aging bourbon in Kentucky — the sweet spot if you will — is six to eight years. Heaven Hill takes the extra time and ages its Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond for seven years, right in the heart of the sweet spot. There aren’t a whole lot of bonded bourbons aged that long, but the extra time in the barrel gives it a more refined, rounded flavor, with sweet caramel, vanilla, and honey notes balanced out by subtle rye spice and dry oak and char. (Are you thirsty yet?)
4. It’s a Versatile Spirit That Pairs Beautifully With Holiday Meals
The next time you’re invited to a holiday dinner, skip the same old wines, ciders, and nogs that make the rounds every year and bring a bottle of Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond. Pairing food with spirits and cocktails has gone from being almost unheard of a decade ago to practically commonplace today, so go ahead and break with convention. This bourbon is a great match for holiday staples like ham and turkey, where its sweetness plays off and amplifies the savory notes of the meat, and it complements stuffings of all sorts. With corn, interestingly enough, whether we’re talking on the cob or cornbread, the rye spice (rye makes up 10 percent of the bourbon’s mash bill) is amplified against the corn’s natural sweetness. And with a sweet-tart cranberry sauce, the richer caramel and chocolate notes of the whiskey get played up. It’s a real shape-shifter that can be served in different ways throughout the meal. Try a Manhattan to start things off along with hors d’oeuvres and appetizers; an Old Fashioned or highball to accompany the main meal, and a snifter of bourbon neat to serve as a digestif (it also tastes great drizzled over pie or ice cream). Trust us, you won’t miss the wine.
5. It’s Award-Winning
Though there aren’t any official awards for the title of “Best Gift Giver,” gifting a bottle of Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond would certainly put you in the running. Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond, though, has a drawer full of medals from awards competitions, including taking home the gold at the 2022 San Francisco World Spirits Competition. They also took home gold at the 2020 and 2022 International Spirits Challenge and were named the #4 Whisky of the Year by Whisky Advocate in 2019 — plus many, many more. If you have a hard-to-impress person on your list this holiday season, give them the gift of Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond (and give yourself the gift of knowing you absolutely nailed it).
This article is sponsored by Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond.