Heaven Hill has the most labels dedicated to the Bottled in Bond designation of all distilleries in the United States. Ranging from the $9 Mellow Corn to the $170+ Old Fitzgerald line, they span a large amount of price ranges and age statements. A quick refresher for the basics of Bottled in Bond Bourbon is that it must be bottled at 100 proof, aged at least 4 years and be from a single distilling season (so either Fall or Spring, but that is not denoted anymore).
JTS Brown BiB
Today I have a bottle of one of the lower end BiB’s in Heaven Hill’s lineup, JTS Brown. This sets firmly at the bottom of the lineup with a price of $14.99 for a liter (at least, that’s what I paid). The label isn’t much to look at and the screw cap also denotes a certain cheapness to the bottle, but as my mother used to say “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” Let’s see how it tastes. I sampled this neat and from a glencairn.
Nose: This smells like buttery grits because it’s a little on the grainy side. There’s also some vanilla frosting, caramel and baked apples. Then the traditional Heaven Hill Peanut (brittle) comes out with a smidge of musty oak. It’s actually more than I expected in a bottle at this price point.
Palate: The mouthfeel is a little thin, which may be the age or the #3 charred barrels. There’s a little heat that comes through, but mostly it tastes like a thin caramel sauce with some crushed peanuts added in. There’s also some oak and tobacco present. Once again, I was not expecting that.
Finish: A slight black pepper flake adds a prickle of heat to the finish while a wave of peanut butter fudge comes through with butterscotch, mint, drying oak and a little bit of leather.
This is so close to being a “6” on my rating chart. And if I was given a glass of this blind, I would’ve sworn up and down this was Elijah Craig Small Batch. I was not expecting some of the tannic notes that I found and that really amped up the experience. But the mouthfeel is a little thin and the palate isn’t exciting.
Overall, it’s pretty well balanced and nuanced for what it is and I quite liked it. I ended up letting my wife use the rest of this bottle for her bourbon slush recipe for Thanksgiving and I didn’t regret it because the bottle is easily replaceable. I am actually looking forward to trying out JW Dant and Evan Williams Bottled in Bond next to see what kind of subtle differences each offer. This is a terrific value for the money.
1 | Disgusting | Drain pour (Example: Jeffers Creek)
2 | Poor | Forced myself to drink it
3 | Bad | Flawed (AD Laws 4 Grain BiB, Clyde Mays anything)
4 | Sub-par | Many things I’d rather have (Tincup 10 year)
5 | Good | Good, solid, ordinary (Larceny, Sazerac Rye)
6 | Very Good | Better than average (Buffalo Trace, OGD BiB)
7 | Great | Well above average (Old Ezra Barrel Proof, Old Weller Antique)
8 | Excellent | Exceptional (Michter’s Barrel Proof Rye, Four Roses Barrel Strength)
9 | Incredible | Extraordinary (GTS, 13 Year MGP or Canadian Rye)
10 | Insurpassable | Nothing Else Comes Close (William Larue Weller)
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