Heaven Hill Select Stock is just one in an increasingly long line of special edition, high-end and even higher-priced Bourbon. You won’t find it at your favorite retailer. You won’t find it outside of Kentucky. In fact, you won’t find it outside of the Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown, Kentucky. Its rareness and retail price could have made this bottle an instant collectible, but its taste needs to back up the price tag, so for those of us interested in experiencing Bourbon, I have this review.
Bourbon: Heaven Hill Select Stock (Spring 2014 Release)
Distillery: Heaven Hill New Bernheim (Louisville) and aged in Bardstown
Age: 8 years + finished 2 years in Cognac barrels
Proof: 130.2 proof
Rich amber with a reddish hue; silky.
The high proof is very evident from the nose, but once you get past the strong ABV, the nose is a pleasant blend of dark fruit and citrus, along with some floral wine notes. I would not have accurately guessed that this was the Heaven Hill wheated recipe from the nose.
Again, the ABV dominates when tasting neat, to the point where I don’t recommend it neat. This Select Stock needs ample time with air, a splash of water and ice. Once the alcohol burn is dealt with, flavors of corn, pear, cherries and oak are most prominent. The Cognac finish shines, but in a subtle way (not overpowering). The tastes profile is missing some traditional Bourbon characteristics (especially the rich sweeter notes often found in wheated Bourbon), but sweet flavors still dominate, which in hindsight might be the outcome of the finishing. There’s also a perfume note that I could do without.
There’s plenty of heat in the finish. As with the nose and the taste, the finish is not best when tasted neat. Aeration, water and a chill all dramatically improve the finish, resulting in a warm, long finish. There is some bitterness in the finish, but it is not distracting.
I might have been one of the first purchasers of Select Stock this past March, but I’ve been hesitant to open it, maybe because of the price, or maybe out of a perception that it was going to be something too special for a random midweek pour. Then I saw that a new batch, which had not been aged quite as long, was being sold at the Bourbon Heritage Center for "only" $150. What about my version was going to warrant an additional Benjamin? That extra intrigue, combined with the upcoming September flood of limited edition Bourbon, helped me decide to crack it open for a review.
This is a Bourbon that deserves some experimentation with different amounts of water or ice, other chilling methods, and especially with aeration by “hyperdecanting” to trigger oxidation and help mellow harsh flavors. However, this means that I don’t recommend simply pouring and drinking, which I consider to be the real rubber-meets-the-road test for Bourbon.
While Select Stock fails that high standard for me, I really enjoyed it once I personalized it. I’d be interested in trying Select Stock in a blind tasting, or at least seeing the results of a blind tasting, especially paired with Parker’s Heritage Collection 5th Edition, which was also Cognac finished. In the meantime, for rating purposes, Select Stock is overpriced at $250 – a fact that Heaven Hill seems to have recognized for its newer releases – and in this case it really hurts the score on my scale. I didn’t score Select Stock as a must-have Bourbon, and while I’m certainly happy to have it in my home bar, there are taste and profile peers that won’t bust your Bourbon budget.
Score on The Sipp’n Corn Scale: 3.0
The Sipp’n Corn Scale:
1 – Wouldn’t even accept a free drink of it.
2 – Would gladly drink it if someone else was buying.
3 – Glad to include this in my bar.
4 – Excellent bourbon. Worth the price and I’m sure to always have it in my bar.
5 – Wow. I’ll search high and low to get another bottle of this.