Heaven’s Door is a whiskey that I’ve seen pop up more and more over the last couple years, but I suppose I’ve always overlooked it because I’ve yet to have it. One reason for it’s popularity is the co-creator of Heaven’s Door – Bob Dylan.
For those of you that don’t know, Bob Dylan is one of the most popular singer/songwriters of all time. While he was still releasing music in the 2020’s, he saw his prime from the 60’s-90’s. Dylan, at the age of 81, is still touring to this day.
In addition to writing and singing, he is an established artist and painter. If his whiskey is half as good as everything else he’s produced, it’ll be pretty darn good.
Heaven’s Door History
Heaven’s Door released its first whiskey in 2018, but things started a few years before that. Marc Bushala, a founder of Angle’s Envy, and Ryan Perry, a whiskey developer from Diageo, created Heaven’s Door Whiskey with Bob Dylan as a co-creator. The name Heaven’s Door comes from Dylan hit song “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door”.
Up to this point, they have sourced their whiskey from Tennessee and bottled it there, too. However, in fall of 2023, they are opening a distillery and ‘brand center’ in Pleasureville, Kentucky.
Heaven’s Door Bourbon Overview
- Spirit: Straight Bourbon, single barrel, cask strength.
- Owned By: Heaven’s Door Spirits
- Distilled By: Unknown Tennessee Distillery
- Aged: NAS
- ABV: 59.35%, 118.7 proof
- Mashbill: 80% Corn, 10% Rye, 10% Malted Barley
- Price: $65
- Barrel #: 9889
- Bottle #: 73
Heaven’s Door is in the process of building their own distillery, but in the meantime, they are sourcing whiskey from a Tennessee Distillery. According to this VinePair article, Heaven’s Door intended on opening up a distillery in Nashville, a place that would make sense given Bob Dylan’s role in the company. However, it seems they are partnering with Six-Mile Creek Distillery to expand in Pleasureville, KY.
Heaven’s Door Bourbon is aged a minimum of 6 years, but their single barrel cask strength is a NAS whiskey, so it may or may not be at that 6 year mark. We do know it’s at least a minimum of 4 years.
The next things to note are the mashbill and proof. The mashbill contains 80% corn grain which is fairly high, higher than your typical bourbon. This bottle, #73 from barrel #9889, lands at 118.7 proof, or 59.35% ABV – a whole lot higher than your typical 80 proof whiskey.
What is Cask Strength Bourbon?
There are laws and regulations that govern the world of whiskey, and distilled spirits in general. They determine what whiskey is, what bourbon is, and everything else. One of those regulations is that whiskey cannot be distilled above 160 proof. Bourbon must also not enter the barrel above 125 proof.
After the aging process, most whiskeys are “cut”, or proofed down, with water. Water is added to bring the ABV/proof down to the desired level.
Cask Strength whiskey is not cut with water. The whiskey that comes out the barrel is the whiskey that goes into the bottle. Cask strength whiskey is commonly bottled around 120 proof, but you’ll see instances of it being both lower and higher.
While whiskey cannot go into a barrel at 125 proof, it CAN come out higher than that. In hot climates the ABV of whiskey can actually climb during the aging process, which is why you’ll sometimes see whiskey that is higher than 125 proof.
Single Barrel Whiskey
I’ve spoken quite a bit about single barrel whiskey in posts such as Jack Daniel’s Single Barrel Select, so I’ll just touch on it briefly.
Single barrel whiskey is exactly as it sounds. The whiskey in a given bottle comes out of a single barrel.
Your standard whiskey may blend 100 barrels together to create a more uniform taste. Single Barrel whiskey is unique from batch to batch. You’ll note that I have Heaven’s Door Bourbon from barrel #9889. If you have a bottle of Heaven’s Door Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon and it’s not the same barrel as mine, it will have a different profile than the one I’m drinking.
Heaven’s Door Bourbon Tasting Notes
Now that we’ve covered the basics of Heaven’s Door, we can get into the important aspect of this whiskey – taste. Again, this is their single barrel cask strength expression of their bourbon. It will have a unique profile to this barrel, but we should still be able to get a good idea of the quality of whiskey Heaven’s Door is putting out.
Nose: You don’t have to put your nose in very far to get a strong whiff of this. Brown cinnamon sugar, maple, and buttery vanilla. Leather and tobacco, and a good mix of light fruits and dried fruits. At 120 proof, you do get your hit of ethanol in there, too.
Palate: That’s an intense sip right there. The first thing I got was the leather and tobacco backed by a lot more pepper and spice than I was expecting. The mouthfeel felt thin initially, but immediately changed to a thicker, creamier viscosity with notes of vanilla.
There’s still a good bit of the nice baking spices like brown sugar, maple sugar, and cinnamon. This is my first sip of the day, so it’s taking me a second to adjust to the proof. The more I sip it, the easier it gets and the more fruit I can pick out. Green apple and pear, and dried fruits.
Finish: A lot of vanilla, oak, and pepper on the finish. Long and strong, but by no means rough.
This is a good whiskey. It’s not crazy unique or anything. There’s nothing that stands out as unusual or totally unexpecting. It’s about what you expect when you think of a good, cask strength bourbon. A man’s man type of bourbon with strong oak, leather, and tobacco. Very traditional whiskey at first, but there is some character and complexity when you dig deeper.
In addition to that, it’s a very sugary sweet type of whiskey. Is that maple sugar? Brown sugar? Cinnamon sugar? all three, I suppose. the fruit hides a little bit behind the high proof and strong oak. The pepper and rye spice was a bit more present than expected given it’s only a 10% rye mash.
The mouthfeel can be a bit thin, but a second of chewing will fully change that. Chewing, or swirling (gently) the whiskey around, or even letting it rest in your mouth for a second or two will bring about a very buttery mouthfeel with a lot of vanilla.
The value might be one of the best parts about Heaven’s Door Single Barrel Cask Strength Bourbon, and that’s saying something for a $65 bottle. There’s a lot of high priced single barrel selections out there. There’s also a lot of high priced cask strength options out there. $65 for a good single barrel cask strength bourbon seems like a high value play to me.
Even browsing through the selections of Total Wine, the floor price of single barrel cask strength whiskey is right around $55-60. Heaven’s Door Single Barrel Cask Strength isn’t going to be for everyone. Not because there’s anything wrong with it, 120 proof whiskey in general just isn’t for everyone. However, if you’re looking at getting into finer whiskey, or already enjoy single barrel and cask strength bourbon, Heaven’s Door is a good option.
Heaven’s Door Bourbon Summary
Now, I would’ve loved to compare the single barrel cask strength to their standard straight bourbon, but I’m not made of money. I will, however, assume that Heaven’s Door Straight Bourbon is likely a good, traditional pour as well.
Their standard expression is ~$45, so for just an extra $20 you can get the Single Barrel Cask Strength. Personally, I think that’s a pretty good deal.
Celebrity spirits have been popping up left and right for the last half decade, and to be honest, I’m okay with it. I’ve had a lot of good pours from celebrity spirts such as Casamigos, Teremana, WT Longbranch, and many more. Heaven’s Door certainly qualifies as a good whiskey, with or without the endorsement of Bob Dylan.