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For Fun: A Historic Barrel Pick at Heaven Hill Distillery

Back in January, We were invited to do a historic barrel pick at Heaven Hill Distillery. This tour was full of world-class whiskey, behind-the-scenes action, and great people. There were parts of this tour that we were not able to photograph and aren’t open to the general public, but this was still too fun not to share.

The barrel that our group picked was a Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond 7 year pick, which was the first public offering of this barrel. The chance to pick this barrel occurred through a local animal rescue charity raffle, and it will once again be involved in charity once the bottles are ready to be picked up! Since this was the first time one of these barrels had been released to the public, Heaven Hill offered our group a special tour and made a whole deal about it. 

For most of the tours at Heaven Hill, you will go through a museum-like self-guided walkthrough of its bourbon lineup and history. You don’t actually see production, bottling lines, or warehouses in person, but it is still very cool. On the other hand, for our bottle pick, we got to see a bit of everything and were accompanied by Conor O'Driscol, the Heaven Hill Master Distillery through the whole journey. 

Our tour started with a hard-hat experience, where we went to the on-site QA department to meet Trisha Beebee, a quality specialist for Heaven Hill. We learned about her process of separating single-barrel worthy samples from barrels from barrels that would be used for larger batch whiskeys. Trisha mentioned tasting several hundred samples over the course of the week, a prospect she was less excited about than you or I might be. On this stop, we tried a few barrel strength samples, one that will eventually be an Elijah Craig small batch, and another that could be a barrel proof or single barrel.  

Next up, we toured a few bottling lines and saw some specialty equipment in the production facility. This is where the whiskey is filled, labeled, corked, and eventually palletized. While we’re used to seeing just a few machines on a bottling line, this particular facility had countless machines on seven bottling lines, one of which was producing 2600 bottles per hour. The amount of machinery and output in this facility was honestly incomprehensible. 

Finally, after the production tour, we made it to the primary rickhouse! If you are at the Heaven Hill visitor’s center, this is going to be the first rickhouse directly across the street. In the rickhouse, there is a large cutout where the first several thousand barrels would be, and this is where all of the private barrel samplings occur. We got to thieve from 4 barrels, alongside the single barrel program manager and the master distiller. 

We were given the option to try our samples barrel strength or at 100 proof. Let’s just say, we eventually did both… a lot of samples… of all 4 barrels… and it was QUITE hard to pick a winner. The one we settled on gave me pineapple upside-down cake vibes; it had a cakey sweetness, hints of citrus and cherry, and a ton of vanilla. The one that I wanted did not win amongst the group, but I like much more aggressive whiskeys than most. 

So, this was a really cool experience that I thought we’d share with our followers! And while this is not a typical offering that our guests can experience, we definitely can get folks out to pick a private barrel from a variety of distilleries. It’s a ton of fun for private groups, collectors, bars, retailers, and more. 

While most of the bottles from this barrel are going to charity, a few may make their way to my bar, meaning a giveaway could take place, so stay tuned! We will also release any information on the charity, so our followers and fellow collectors may get a chance at the first Heaven Hill BIB pick as well!  

Thanks again HH and to everyone involved! Cheers. 



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