View Full Version : Heaven Hill: charcoal filtered, bottom shelf

11-23-2007, 19:38
ok, please excuse my whining, but i've been letting this brew all day.

first, a technical question: what is the mash bill for Heaven Hill's basic white label, 80 proof "old style bourbon" ? (see photo, attached)

i thought i understood the difference between corn and rye.

rye is spicey. corn is sweet. this isn't sweet to me (or spicey) so i can only wonder what the formula is...

first, let me let my INITIAL tasting notes from this afternoon fly. this was preceded by a pour of EW 1783...

to be honest, my notes were full of optimism and hope. i WANTED to like this. of course, at $8.79...but then, why am i surprised now?

the notes--

appearance: honey/straw, long thick legs followed by micro-legs that fall apart on descent--similar sticky cling drops i saw with the EW 1783...

nose: apples, stewed sweetness ? cheese? peppermint?
nothing specific but still "pronounced"...on second taste, the pronounced becomes more, er, pronounced: canned vegetables (greens? corn?)...

taste: oily, buttery, woody...second and third tastes confim LEFTOVER VEGETABLE CASSEROLE left on the counter for 2 days

finish: squash? pine bark?

ok, am i being fair?

this really threw me into a swirl. i had to confirm something with regards to quality. i quickly has some Eagle Rare 10 SB...whew and ah....my tastebuds had not gone out. this is quality. this is why i spend money on top shelf bourbon...

i admit, this was an unpredmeditated buy...i had gone for the EW 1783 only because it is a closeout here in PA and was only $8.99.

but this one, at even less, turned out to be a VALUABLE lesson. in one sense i feel dumb. in another, i now appreciate the middle and top shelf bourbons even more.

ok, why, though was this such a shocker to me? why am i so blown away by the endgame of Heaven Hill's bottle of old rags-n-bad-cabbage? i really don't even know if 3 peppermint sticks thrown in the bottle will help. i even doubt i will be able to cook with this.

now, i AM open minded. is there a dimension i am missing here?

is this what a dominantly corn whiskey tastes like? if so, i will pass on asking my parents to seek out a bottle of Mellow Corn for me while they still hang out in mississippi (and yeah, the MSU Dawgs beat Ole Miss today, yeeahh!!!:grin: ).

thanks for bearing with me. this post still didn't pan out as i had hoped. i hope folks will get my point.

i am disappointed, heavily. but then, no financial loss. but what a multi-dimensional eye-opener!

are all those other bottlings like AA and others that one finds ON THE BOTTOM SHELF similarly 'distinctive'?

if so, i'll cling to my basic WT 101. i'll take that over almost anything else, any day.

11-24-2007, 08:26

what suggestions would anyone have regarding using this bottle?

what is this peppermint stick trick i've heard about? and other 'liqueur' additives that work?

also, what vatting possibilities? what other whiskey could i mix with it to make a decent pour, balance it out?

11-24-2007, 09:49
The peppermint stick thing has been around since the 1930's at least: probably originally the idea was to increase the body and flavor of blended whiskey. The sugar would approximate to the wood gums from new barrel aging and the minty taste would approximate to the taste straight rye or good bourbon has.

You could try that, but I think using it in mixed drinks (e.g., a Manhattan or Sour) would work better especially if vatted with something appropriate.

If I had some I'd blend it with EC 12 or 18, or JDSB, or anything big and rich to "absorb" some of the feisty taste. Try 3:1 (the 1 being the HH) and work up from there.

Or, add it to Canadian whisky, say 2:8 to start - actually you may get some very good results.


11-24-2007, 11:42
thanks again, gary for the suggestions.

i still need to ask, what's the mash bill?

buying this was a good lesson. and i still hope to 'refine' this base substance into something maybe more elevated...will try to vat as well as experiment with the candy idea. maybe some red hots in one 200ml bottle. and the other with peppermint (maybe even one of those 'butter mints'). i assume the candy will totally dissolve w/ no residue

11-24-2007, 12:03
Well, look at it this way, this is one of the lowest priced distiller bottlings of bourbon on the market. Don't expect much from it. I dislike this bottling as well as EW 1783(even when it was 10yo), but enjoy the EW BIB and VROHH.

Could it just be a case of a mashbill that doesn't suit me when both young and low proof? Likely. I do enjoy the HH mashbill at young higher proof pours, and at older ages-both lower and higher proofs.

While there are still some incredible buys out there to be had, this bottling's just isn't one of them. Even though, it still is an example of HH at low proof and age, as a way to compare to their older and higher proof bottlings...study them side by side and find the common threads to help you understand what happens during aging.

11-24-2007, 13:59
i still need to ask, what's the mash bill?

When I did visit the distillery last year Charles Downs told me the rye recipe bourbon mash was 78-10 (rye)-12.


11-24-2007, 14:38
When I did visit the distillery last year Charles Downs told me the rye recipe bourbon mash was 78-10 (rye)-12.


Regan lists it as:
Bourbon 75-13-12
Rye 65-23-12

11-25-2007, 06:01

what suggestions would anyone have regarding using this bottle?

Hi there,
I haven't had this bottling, though I've always meant to look into it. Here's a suggestion for how to use it. Do you have any bitters? Give it a few shakes. Any orange bitters? A couple more shakes. And here's my trick, a couple of drops of vanilla extract. I think this calls for some ice as well. Just a little sugar or simple syrup might go well, too. I did this was some Old Crow that I wanted to get through. It might not become a favorite pour, the Old Crow didn't, but it was drinkable, even enjoyable in a way.

11-25-2007, 06:46
I believe the mash bill is 78%corn, 10%rye and 12%barley malt. Something like that but the important thing is HH uses the same mashbill for all its rye Bourbons and the quality level is the same.

Their brands are blended to a certain flavor profile and that is part of why we pay a premium, the extra work, sometimes using older more expensive barrels, higher proof and advertising costs.

Barrels outside specific flavor profiles are watered down to 80 proof, labeled with a name familiar in the market region, and sold without fanfare or advertising as bottom shelf most bang for the buck whiskies for folks who usually pour a little whiskey in a glass with a lot of mixer.

You may consider using a heavy mixer, cooking with it or improving it along the lines Gary mentioned.


11-25-2007, 10:50
thanks Squire! that helps. i see that HH is WAY over the required 51% corn...and it still makes me wonder, will i NOT like MELLOW CORN? or is MC a bit older.

maybe that's it. this stuff is simply YOUNG...but that second pour, yikes, the canned veggies and leftover cabbage sense...

anyways, greetings from PA...i lived in Jackson MS for many years! lived most of that time on Congress Street, right down from the capital!


p.s. yes, i guess a mixer...the whiskey sour might be the best choice.

but i did an experiment yesterday...i took a small 50ml maple syrup sampler bottle (shaped like a maple leaf) and poured 2/3 of the HH...dropped in a couple bits of dried orange and cranberries...topped it off with 1/3 (yep, i did it...) STAGG...less than half a shot, so, let's see if the weak youthful corn mingles well with that high proof buck!

might add some turbinado sugar in towards the end.:)

11-25-2007, 10:58
...Do you have any bitters? Give it a few shakes. Any orange bitters? A couple more shakes. And here's my trick, a couple of drops of vanilla extract. I think this calls for some ice as well. Just a little sugar or simple syrup might go well, too...

hello Ed and thanks for the suggestions...very helpful. you reminded me of something else i had in my pantry/laboratory! Angostura bitters. is that what you mean? and in the post above, you can see i did try dehydrated orange (i took of the peel part) and cranberries.

of course, gary suggested FRESH fruit.

i think i will head to Trader Joe's and get what they call 'bourbon' vanilla extract...i know the name has nothing to do with the spirit. but what does this impart?

thanks again folks for the tips.

by the way, is there a thread here on bottom shelf bourbons?

11-25-2007, 16:03
Yep, Angostura bitters is just what I meant. Orange peel is a really good idea. As for the vanilla extract, one of the most important flavors imparted by the barrel is vanilla.


11-25-2007, 21:05
That's still less corn than the World's Best Selling Whiskey uses.

Since the vanillin in artificial vanilla extract comes from wood, just like the vanillin in bourbon, you don't need to spend a lot of money on fancy real extract.

For cooking purposes, I recommend using whole beans, anyway.

11-27-2007, 18:35
The mash bill for Heaven Hill's rye-recipe bourbon is indeed 78% corn, 12% malt, 10% rye. This is a pretty typical bourbon/Tennessee whiskey mash bill, give or take a point or two. No bourbon made is even close to 51%. The closest probably is the "high rye" mash bill at Four Roses, which is 60% corn.

I don't know Heaven Hill's wheated bourbon mash bill but I wouldn't be surprised if it's the same, except 10% wheat instead of 10% rye. The straight rye and straight wheat are exactly 51% rye or wheat, the rest being corn and malt, and although I don't know for sure if they use 12% malt across the board, I'm willing to assume that they do, malt percentage being more about malt's function than it is about taste, so they are probably 51% rye or wheat, 37% corn and 12% malt.