Did Heaven Hill 85th Anniversary 13-Year-Old Hold Off Three Competitors?

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Fred Minnick took to the blind taste-offs again on Nov. 18, with the soon-to-be-released Heaven Hill 85th Anniversary 13-year-old squaring off against Wild Turkey Rare Breed, Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond 16-year-old and William Heavenhill Bottled in Bond 13-year-old.

Fred also talked up Evan Williams products like the black label product, which are low-budget bourbons at a nice price – but the bourbons he tasted on this particular show were the upper crust of the distillery.

He also notes that these particular bourbons are going to be tough to find – they’ll sell out no matter what, as the current hot market dictates.

“Right now you could put bourbon in a tin can and throw some dirt in it and people would probably buy it,” he quips.

Early in the tasting, one of the bourbons in the flight quickly fell behind and then made a big comeback to nearly overtake the early favorite, which held on for the win. Here’s how the tasting went down, ranked in reverse order:

4. Glass D, Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond 16-year-old – Root beer, cream soda, cola; “It’s good … I’m not wowed by it.” Maple syrup, root beer, pecan, Juicy Fruit watermelon. “It’s there and it’s gone.” Noted a fleck of “musty grain” upon second tasting. (Was it the curse of the neck pour?)

3. Glass A, William Heavenhill Bottled in Bond 13-year-old – Caramel laden, fruit, floral, barn wood; “Ooh yeah. That’s the way to start a tasting.” Roasted sunflower seed, peach cobbler, overwhelming salted caramel, caramel chew. Wanted it to last longer on the palate. “Competitive.”

2. Glass C, Wild Turkey Rare Breed – Muted on the nose; cornbread batter, cornbread, smoked paprika, chiles. On second taste, shows up stronger in spice notes.

1. Glass B, Heaven Hill 85th Anniversary 13-year-old – Rustic, cornbread in an iron skillet, salt and pepper; “Oh yeah. It’s so good.” Has depth. Active on palate. Spice, bitter notes, sweetness. Cornbread, honey, tobacco. “A whiskey I can do a lot with. Hitting every point of the palate for me.”

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