One of the great affordable bourbons is coming back this fall, and we can’t wait to get our hands on some—even though the price has more than doubled. Heaven Hill recently announced the upcoming release of Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond 7-Year Bourbon, to arrive nearly one year to the day after the distillery discontinued Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond 6-Year Bourbon. The news of a discontinued whiskey returning with a higher age statement is good, but it comes with a catch. And to understand that, we need to go back in the bourbon timeline.
Last fall, Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond 6-Year Bourbon was discontinued. Before its disappearance, it had been widely regarded as perhaps the best deal in Kentucky Bourbon on shelves. It was frankly only a matter of time before it went away as demand under the bourbon boom skyrocketed, which is what happened in September 2018.
The new release of Heaven Hill Bottled in Bond returning in October has plenty in common with its predecessor, but many things have changed. The age statement is a reason to cheer. The label artwork is new. Then there’s the price: up from $15 to $40.
A few critics are painting this as a cleverly disguised strategy for Heaven Hill to raise the price to be more in line with competitors, but the reason for the price increase might also have to do with the distribution and availability of the new bottle.
Before the six-year whiskey was discontinued, it was a Kentucky exclusive, available only in the Bluegrass State for years (and only intermittently so, as reports of its discontinuation popped up nearly every year for half of this decade). When it was around, it was regularly an underpriced, quietly appreciated treat for Kentuckians and anyone who was willing to travel there to buy alcohol.
The whiskey Heaven Hill has replaced it with is older, and though the price has increased, it will be available in eight of the 50 states, rather than just one.The states in question (which do not include Kentucky) are California, Texas, New York, Georgia, Florida, Illinois, South Carolina, and Colorado.
For those eight states, this release means better access to great whiskey at a fair market price in 2019. The only bad news (outside of Kentucky) is that this release is arguably the final confirmation that the days of “great bourbon under $20” might officially be over. The few that remain either cross the line once taxes are included (and have for years), or they are simply so hard to find at the actual suggested retail price (because of markups) that it’s unfair to drinkers to include them.
The price doesn’t seem to be bothering many people. Serious consumers have watched the steady price creep over the last decade, and in comparison with some other hikes, this isn’t much. On Reddit, responses to the news varied from “take my money” and “excited,” to “probably what the stuff was worth anyway.”
At 7 years of age, this whiskey is on par with Baker’s Bourbon and a handful of others, and for less money. The only truly bad news here is that, according to Josh Hafer, senior communications manager for Heaven Hill, there’s going to be less actually produced of this new batch, for now. “I can tell you it’s gonna be less. Until fairly recently it was a Kentucky-only product. Those volumes were even pretty small. This will be smaller than that—at least in the beginning.”
One price increase doesn’t mean more are to follow, either. The other bargains in the Heaven Hill portfolio, like Henry McKenna 10-Year Bottled-in-Bond Single Barrel Bourbon, aren’t going anywhere, according to Hafer.
Heaven Hill Bottled-in-Bond 7-Year Bourbon will likely be hard to find, too. But at $40, it’ll still be well worth the effort.