Welcome to the Business of Bourbon: Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond

If you’re in an industry that’s growing leaps and bounds and you have a popular product that’s selling for $12 and critics say it’s every bit as good as your $40 competitor, what do you do?

A) Keep it inexpensive and be the People’s Champion.

B) Lower the quality of the $12 product, so it’s more representative of the market.

C) Discontinue product and re-launch it with new packaging the following year.

D) None of the above.

Well, if you’re Heaven Hill, you go with C and that’s what happened with the conversion of Old Fitzgerald to Larceny a few years ago, albeit some Old Fitz is still on the market, and that’s just what happened with Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond 6-year-old, which was a fan favorite.

After missing from Kentucky store shelves for a year, Heaven Hill BIB returns with an SRP of $39.99. It launches in October in the limited markets of California, Texas, New York, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, South Carolina and Colorado.

I suppose I am okay with this, but I just wish they’d say this stuff when they discontinue something or make the decision to lose an age statement. I don’t think consumers would care if companies came out and said, “hey, this stuff is too cheap. We need to make more money, so we’re rebranding it because it’s better than Woodford and people associate quality with price.”

I get Heaven Hill is a private business and they owe us nothing, but they need to understand that consumers feel like they’re a part of these brands and develop emotional connections to them. So, when you change the whiskey or pursue marketing ploys, folks get irate. Just ask Maker’s Mark. Tell us what’s happening.

Oh, the new whiskey is 7 years old. That’s nice. But when SKU canvasses the inter webs to find the federal approval on the label and Heaven Hill announces the whiskey’s existence two days later, it’s a bad look for a great distillery.

With all that said, I couldn’t be more excited to drop $40 on a new whiskey. I believe Heaven Hill’s sweet spot is between 7 and 12 years old; their older releases are hit and miss. This should be excellent.

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7 Replies to “Welcome to the Business of Bourbon: Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond”

  1. Fred, one would assume that this news sadly means that a significant (if not massive) price increase is in the offing for Henry McKenna Single Barrell? They’re both Heaven Hill products; bottled at the same proof (100); the same mashbill (or so I assume); etc. The only difference I can see being that the McKenna is three years older.

    The current SRP for McKenna is pretty close to the $39.99 you cite for the new HHBiB, so it’s hard to imagine that McKenna won’t get bumped up to at least the $50+ range. Of course, it’s already scarcer than hen’s teeth thanks to you and your fellow judges out there in San Francisco, so it’s kind of a moot point for most of us in any event (I kid!). Cheers!

    Chris

  2. Yes, it was a bargain at $12 and should have been a $20-22 bottle. $40? No way. Henry McKenna BiB certainly could (should ?) be priced @$50 but I’ll bet its $60 soon enough. Interesting that they took a KY only product and when relaunched did not even release in KY. I think they know they overstepped the market.

  3. The sad fact of this is that they will probably be able to sell more bottles at $40 than they were able to sell at $12. Great move for the bottom line but a bit of a black eye for the company.

  4. Never had the discontinued Heaven Hill BIB 6 year,as I’m new to all this Bourbon talk, reviews, prices and ratings. I guess you have to just appreciate all this time the HH BIB was so cheap. I am mainly a beer drinker, but when drinking whiskey, I had been a Jack Daniels man. About 4 years ago my wife and me started drinking Evan Williams Black Label on my off days only in the cold seasons. We enjoy Evan Black still, but now it looks like it’s year round lol. I’ve tried a few in the last couple of months, Wild Turkey 101, Maker Mark, and Knob Creek 100. Wild Turkey seemed to strong at first, Makers is to smooth and subdued, and we liked the Knob Creek 100 proof. We would try Wild Turkey again, and Knob Creek is a definite. But Evan Williams is still our go to. I hope this isn’t an across the board thing that HH is going to do with all their products. I want to try some of the other Evan Williams products.

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