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


June 24, 2019

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.