ETA 4:09PMEST - Thanks everyone for tuning in today. This has been a blast. Now it’s time to go soak my fingers in epsom salt and have a nice EC Barrel Proof on the rocks!!!

There's nothing I love more than talking about whiskey. If you have questions, I've got answers. Ask away.

Proof: https://twitter.com/HeavenHill1935/status/969574199772745728

Comments: 196 • Responses: 59  • Date: 

zillah198547 karma

Hi Denny! Some of my favorite Heaven Hill bourbons are the old, affordable Bottled in Bond brands. Are there any plans to help promote and push these brands for greater distribution? Much like how Henry McKenna and Rittenhouse were revitalized. Perhaps add age statements and premiumize them? Re-designed labels? I am talking brands like JW Dant, JTS Brown, TW Samuels, Old Fitzgerald and Heaven Hill.

heavenhilldistillery31 karma

Yes, a great example of this is the recent announcement about the Old Fitzgerald Bottled in Bond (check out link below for details). Old Fitzgerald is a historic brand with a history in decanters. Much like our Pikesville Rye, we champion these bottlings and look for opportunities to promote them or reintroduce them to a wider audience.

http://blog.heavenhilldistillery.com/old-fitzgerald-bottled-bond-series/

tvraisedme29 karma

any chance we'll get to see the barrel program opening to the bottled in bond lineup (other than Henry Mckenna)? specifically, mellow corn and/or Dant? or Heaven Hill 6 year?

heavenhilldistillery10 karma

I will never say never, but Elijah Craig is the priority right now. I also answered a similar BIB question here: https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/82gpva/im_denny_potter_master_distiller_at_heaven_hill/dv9xp2b/

Millard_Phillmire24 karma

Asking for a friend. Denny, how’d y’all get that corn so damn mellow?

heavenhilldistillery23 karma

It’s a combination the high corn recipe and the used barrel. With a lot of the flavor extracted from the barrel in its first use for Bourbon it stays so deliciously mellow!

dcbourbon7324 karma

Thanks for doing this. Visited the distillery last summer and had a blast.

1) How closely does HH follow r/bourbon, if at all? Are you aware of how highly regarded Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is there?

2) What is one recent, readily available bourbon or rye (i.e. not secondary market or super $$) from a different distillery that made you say "Damn, that's good"?

If you answer, I commit to 3 fingers of Pikesville tonight in your honor.

heavenhilldistillery40 karma

1) How closely does HH follow r/bourbon, if at all? Are you aware of how highly regarded Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is there?

We certainly follow r/bourbon but not at a troll level! I know I check in on occasion because I want to know what the conversations are and what people are currently interested in. And I’m not sure I knew how highly regarded the ECBP was there but I can imagine. People love it and it has become almost fanatical since we won 2017 Whisky Advocate Whiskey of the Year.

2) What is one recent, readily available bourbon or rye (i.e. not secondary market or super $$) from a different distillery that made you say "Damn, that's good"? If you answer, I commit to 3 fingers of Pikesville tonight in your honor.

Well, the Russells Reserve 10yro is pretty damn good. And if you know anything about Jimmy and Eddie it’s that they are pretty good at what they do. I would also say that Eddie has one of the best palates of anyone I’ve ever been around. He is well known for his talent to taste and describe.

MajorHop21 karma

Hi Denny,

When I visited Heaven Hill's visitor center last year, the air near the rickhouses was probably the best smelling I have ever experienced in my life. Do you ever get used to or tired of that smell?

Also, how do you attempt to maintain batch consistency with each release of Elijah Craig Barrel Proof?

Thanks!

heavenhilldistillery24 karma

I don’t think you get used to it, it’s such a unique aroma. Everytime I walk into a warehouse it puts a smile on my face because it smells so damn good! With Elijah Craig Barrel Proof we really don’t know until it’s 12 years old what it’s going to taste like, and then we have the opportunity to marry the very best 12 year old barrels that we have. It also has to be enjoyable even at such a high proof.

OnionRingSamsquamtch17 karma

Hi Denny! I'll start us off simply. Based on all factors including price, what's your favorite whiskey? If it's one you make, what's also your favorite that you don't distill?

heavenhilldistillery29 karma

There’s not one that is my favorite, just depends on the occasion. If I’m sitting at home watching a movie or going to a football tailgate, it changes and that’s the beauty of what we do! There are a lot of different options at a lot of different price points. For example, if I’m going to a tailgate I’m going to bring Larceny - it’s a crowd pleaser and you can enjoy it anyway you want, like neat, on the rocks, classic cocktail. If I’m sitting at home watching a movie, I’m going to have some Elijah Craig Barrel Proof or Henry McKenna BIB. For options I don’t distill, probably Makers where I worked for seven years and was Assistant Master Distiller.

tvraisedme17 karma

Hey Denny-

big fan of heaven hill brands. elijah craig barrel proof, in particular. i have a few questions:

  1. do you have any favorite independent or small distilleries you think we should be watching? people who are doing it right and not rushing product to market?

  2. any chance of barrel/high proof offerings of other heaven hill labels?

  3. what is heaven hill doing to stymie the oncoming pop to the bourbon bubble? does heaven hill even think this is a bubble or does hh see the current fervor as a sea change for the whiskey world?

heavenhilldistillery22 karma

1) do you have any favorite independent or small distilleries you think we should be watching? people who are doing it right and not rushing product to market?

Love what Pat and Shane are doing at Wilderness Trail in Danville KY. Those guys are top notch and true experts. They have not released any of their whiskey yet but it’s coming and it will be good.

2) any chance of barrel/high proof offerings of other heaven hill labels?

Once again, will never say never.

3) what is heaven hill doing to stymie the oncoming pop to the bourbon bubble? does heaven hill even think this is a bubble or does hh see the current fervor as a sea change for the whiskey world?

As I said in a previous answer, everyone has their own perspective on this, but from my position I don’t think Bourbon is going anywhere any time soon. We’re only halfway to where the industry was in its peak in the 1970’s. And we have huge growth potential in the international markets. As the second largest holder of aging American Whiskey, we’re in a better position than most to prepare for the future.

NordicTexan17 karma

Do you know if pre-fire Henry McKenna BiB was kept in the Deatsville warehouses?

heavenhilldistillery25 karma

Good question. The fire was in 1996. Knowing how good our Deatsville location is at aging whiskey, my “guess” would be that some of it certainly did. Deatsville was Parker’s favorite location so I’m sure he selected McKenna BIB Single Barrel from that site. I can tell you that some of today’s McKenna comes from Deatsville so no reason why it wouldn’t have pre-96.

Mosrite6515 karma

Hi Denny - With the growth of rye whiskey and the rave reviews of Pikesville 6yr 110 proof, can we expect to see new HH rye products in the future? Would love to see a 10+ year or high proof/cask strength offering.

BigSchwartzzz15 karma

Is there a way I can pay for a bottle of whiskey 20 years on advance so I give my nephew a certificate or something for his first birthday saying that his first glass of legal whiskey is being made right now in a specific barrel and is set to be finished on his 21st birthday? I have no idea what to get the kid.

heavenhilldistillery35 karma

It’s a nice thought, but not something we offer. It’s never a good idea to buy Bourbon-related items for people under age, so we’d stick with a rattle.

beerspeaks14 karma

Hi Denny. Whiskey, and bourbon in particular, are obviously in a very good place right now where distilleries are maxing out production to meet demand. This obviously comes with some pretty big obstacles given the amount of time it takes to deliver a quality product.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you balance the patience needed to put out a good product, vs. the inevitable push to get bottles on the shelf to make money?

And, what steps are being taken to ensure the longevity of the Heaven Hill brand to weather the ebbs and flows of the whiskey market.

Thanks in advance!

heavenhilldistillery17 karma

It's a balancing act. We can't let certain brands grow like wildfire. We have to manage the growth to also supply our portfolio of allocated products as well. However, we are very lucky because of the fact that we are family owned and operated and have been since 1935. We are not subject to the pressures that come from “stockholders” like you are at publicly traded companies. This allows us to make smart decisions on what to release, when to release and how much to release.

mfpark14 karma

Hi Denny. I think Pikesville is probably the best / most significant regular new release that's happened during the last several years of American whiskey. I don't expect Ritt 25 to be back any time soon, but is there any chance of older or even higher proof rye offerings? A Parker's Heritage Collection rye? A single barrel private selection rye similar to what Beam and Turkey are doing? Thanks!

heavenhilldistillery11 karma

Aged rye expressions are always part of the conversation, and the Rittenhouse 21, 23, and 25 are true gems released before the booming interest in this category. I think there is a chance for something like this in the future but it really just does take time since we don’t rush into new offerings like these. As for private selection, the focus is on Elijah Craig.

davedavedaveck14 karma

The distillers world has always been one of friendship and long relationships. I hear stories of Booker & Jimmy Russell being friends. Who are you close with in the industry?

heavenhilldistillery25 karma

This is so true. I knew Booker and definitely consider Jimmy a friend as well as his son Eddie and grandson Bruce. Good friends of mine now include Greg Davis at Makers and Fred and Freddie Noe at Beam. We all live in Bardstown together so I see them quite a bit. But Drew Kulsveen, Harlan Wheatley, Pam Heilman, Brent Elliott etc. etc. are friends too. Us operations people tend to stick together.

Quinnarm12 karma

You guys live in one big house? They should make that a reality show!

heavenhilldistillery31 karma

I'm not sure my liver could handle that...

SoufSideHair13 karma

Did you brew beer before you learned to distill liquor? I hear it makes ya sicker quicker.
Jokes aside, I've been brewing at home and at friends houses since 2011 and have been working on turning the hobby into my career. Ive grown to be extremely interested in distilling but with it being a legal mess in the US, seems like Siebel Institute or moving to Kentucky to volunteer at a distillery are my best bets (both of which aren't realistic for me). Now mind you, we do have a handful of distilleries here in Chicago and Illinois in general, but I can't help but be a tiny bit bias and wonder if it's best to learn spirit making in an unconventional/craft environment as opposed to traditional. Just curious if you have any tips for the beer brewer who is interested in bourbon and mezcal and rum, but has no idea where to legally start.
My girl tells me to stick to beer for now and focus on that...but I can't help but insist "this stuff takes 5 years to make compared to 3 weeks for beer! Gotta get started asap!"
Thanks for this AMA keep doing what you do!

heavenhilldistillery18 karma

If you are truly interested in things outside of bourbon (mezcal, rum, etc.) you gotta go the craft route. It’s just easier and you can purchase equipment upfront that might be smaller in nature but will allow you to do different types of things as you may want to bounce back and forth. Moonshine University is actually a program offered in Louisville where they will bring you in and teach you the basics of distilling. Might be worth looking into if you have a good beer background and are looking to move into distilling. Good luck!

PMRwhitecoat11 karma

Hi Denny! Thanks for doing the AMA. I had a couple of questions.

1) What's one aspect of the master distiller job that surprised you once you assumed the role? 2) I'm a big fan of the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof releases and the Elijah Craig barrel picks. Do you think that Heaven Hill would ever release a barrel proof store pick Elijah Craig?

heavenhilldistillery16 karma

1) What's one aspect of the master distiller job that surprised you once you assumed the role?

Honestly, how much the title actually means to our fans and our customers. The title gives you credibility in the market so that people truly listen to what you have to say and consider you an expert in your field. I never looked at it that way. I just knew that I enjoyed it and had a passion for the operations side but never considered how that impacts others. It’s humbling.

2) I'm a big fan of the Elijah Craig Barrel Proof releases and the Elijah Craig barrel picks. Do you think that Heaven Hill would ever release a barrel proof store pick Elijah Craig?

I would never say never, but right now we are still focusing on building the single barrel program for Elijah Craig Small Batch program at 94 proof. Remember, our barrel program was strong a few years back, before the big bourbon boom. We are still trying to catch back up and see how we can expand this program going forward. So who knows, barrel proof might be a part of that. But at this point we just don’t know. The 94 is the focus for the foreseeable future.

Doneeb10 karma

Heyo, Mr. Potter. Two questions:

  • I attended your "Find your perfect match" blind tasting in Chicago a few years ago. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed being able to chat with you a bit afterward. Any plans to do something similar in the future?

  • The bourbon scene is crazy right now. What is one of the strangest things you've experienced involving whiskey fans or, alternatively, what is something that has happened in one of your warehouses that surprised or confused you?

heavenhilldistillery26 karma

1) I attended your "Find your perfect match" blind tasting in Chicago a few years ago. It was a lot of fun and I enjoyed being able to chat with you a bit afterward. Any plans to do something similar in the future?

I am a BIG FAN of blind tastings, whether it’s a seminar or doing true work in the tasting lab. At Chicago WhiskyFest this year we are doing an Elijah Craig batching seminar where everyone blindly tastes Elijah Craig Small Batch samples that are between 8-12 years old then we reveal what is what at the end. People are always surprised. Will be fun. I promise.

2) The bourbon scene is crazy right now. What is one of the strangest things you've experienced involving whiskey fans or, alternatively, what is something that has happened in one of your warehouses that surprised or confused you?

The craziest at Heaven Hill involving the WH was when we walked in and found a barrel completely destroyed, a hole in the roof, and a large rock laying in the middle of the floor. This was at our Schenley site and there is a rock quarry next door, but a good ways away. Long-story short, they had a blast that had a little too much “explosives” behind it and it sent the rock flying almost ¼ of a mile that landed in our warehouse. And yes, the quarry paid for the repair of the roof and the contents of the barrel.

tvraisedme10 karma

How aware and tapped into the secondary/black market are you? Have your recent pricing increases for limited edition bottlings been related to prices you've seen on the secondary? or more from sales increases and market research?

as a consumer, i lament the price increase, but as a fan, it's good to see the higher end bourbon releases starting to get luxury prices more in line with products in the same family (ie, scotch)

heavenhilldistillery10 karma

I am not a collector so I am not tapped into the secondary market at all. Mainly what we know is what the consumers tell us. That market does not dictate at all what pricing is for our releases. We do try to manage special releases because we truly want people to drink these products and not just collect and/or resell them. However, it’s a market that has been created out of necessity so it is not a bad thing at all. It is filling a niche. I know that some products have seen increases but it is tough for us to control what the price is when it makes the shelf. We suggest pricing but that does not always dictate what it sells for. Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is a great example of that. Our suggested pricing is $59.99. Obviously we have seen it listed a lot higher than that. It also still amazes me that we can offer products such as Elijah Craig Small Batch and Henry McKenna 10yr BIB in the $30 price range. Unbelievable products for the price.

iamjuice109 karma

Hi Denny,

Any chance we’ll see a brand extension of Larceny? Maybe a barrel proof someday? Older age stated ones like Elijah Craig 18 year? Thank you for such an amazing portfolio of whiskey.

heavenhilldistillery12 karma

I’ve been on record saying that I feel Larceny is our next Evan Williams. Evan Williams is the #2 bourbon in the world and Larceny has all the tools to be right there some day. We released Larceny in 2012 in very select markets. This time last year we were only in 19 markets across the U.S. We wanted to grow the brand the right way which was making sure we had enough Wheated Bourbon to support true organic growth. By the end of 2017 we were finally to the point that we could fully distribute nationally. Right now that is our focus. Once we are comfortable with where we are as far as supporting the growth of Larceny we might take a look at some of the things you mentioned. And lets also not forget our announcement of Old Fitz BIB just last month, which is the genesis of Larceny http://blog.heavenhilldistillery.com/old-fitzgerald-bottled-bond-series/

eyera9 karma

I love Pikesville! Is it really the same mash bill as Rittenhouse, just aged longer? Will there be any special editions in the future?

heavenhilldistillery11 karma

Yep, it’s the same mashbill. You can see all of our mashbills at this link: http://heavenhilldistillery.com/making-americas-whiskey.php. The difference really is in the aging and barrel selection process. We always pick Pikesville from higher storage. I’ll never say never, but right now we’re comfortable with Pikesville as it is without any special editions planned right now.

dangerpotter8 karma

We have the same last name. You get a lot of Harry Potter references anytime someone notices your name?

heavenhilldistillery9 karma

Yes, I get that question all the time!

namasteathome7 karma

Hi Denny, Do I need to worry about Henry McKenna 10yr BIB losing its age statement?
Thanks!

heavenhilldistillery17 karma

Nope. No reason to worry here. You can’t beat 10YO, BIB, Single Barrel, 100 proof!

anxst7 karma

Hello Denny, thank you for doing this.

What is our chance of ever seeing older age stated Mellow Corn bottlings? Maybe even at cask strength? Mellow Corn is pretty unique, and I'd love to see that happen as a special release, even if it's not yearly.

heavenhilldistillery7 karma

Love to see your passion for Mellow Corn! A true fan. Actually, there is a bottling out right now that is older aged corn whiskey that has been rebarreled. It is available at our Visitor’s Center and is under our Heaven Hill Select Stock line.

Sydways7 karma

Hey Denny, why do some distilleries have certain bourbons primarily for export to countries like Japan? Some that come to mind are Evan Williams 12 year, Buffalo Trace' s Blanton Straight From The Barrel, and there are some from Wild Turkey too.

heavenhilldistillery5 karma

I cannot speak to the Blanton’s but as for our EW 12yr, that has been exported to Japan for quite a while. Well before the big whiskey boom. We do not export much of this at all but it’s something we’ve continued to sell there.

MarkimusPrime897 karma

Can you make arrangements to offer a larger variety with the lcbo in Canada? A lot of your range is only available to me by crossing over the the USA and paying high import fees.

heavenhilldistillery5 karma

We are always trying to grow our portfolio internationally. Let the LCBO know you want more Elijah Craig! For specifics, you can always email [email protected] for more detail.

Quinnarm6 karma

Hey Denny! Thanks for opening your doors to Heaven for a little bit.

Can you speak on the Bourbon industry and where you think it's going. Everyone claims the bubble is about to burst.

Also, can you explain the farm to distillery relationship and where you might get your corn, wheat and rye from? I've heard that a lot of distilleries, HH included use GMO products to keep up with demand. Any shift towards organic!

heavenhilldistillery14 karma

1) Can you speak on the Bourbon industry and where you think it's going. Everyone claims the bubble is about to burst.

Everyone has their own perspective on this, but from my position I don’t think Bourbon is going anywhere any time soon. We’re only halfway to where the industry was in its peak in the 1970’s. And we have huge growth potential in the international markets. As the second largest holder of aging American Whiskey, we’re in a better position than most to prepare for the future.

2) Also, can you explain the farm to distillery relationship and where you might get your corn, wheat and rye from? I've heard that a lot of distilleries, HH included use GMO products to keep up with demand. Any shift towards organic!

All of the corn comes from four local farmers who we have worked with for generations. We typically get our wheat from these same farms since they will grow the wheat on the same property once the corn is harvested. Our rye comes from the Northern US and Canada. We just cannot grow it economically here in KY. As for GMO, we do not dictate to the farmer what they should grow. They know what is best to grow on their land. That being said, no GM material makes it through distillation thus the reason why we do not mandate what the farmer must grow.

hammer_tits6 karma

How does Heaven Hill go about certifying quality and renewability of the White Oak staves that go into their barrels?

Do you see a major issue coming to the Whiskey and Bourbon industry due to the decline of White Oak in the region?

heavenhilldistillery11 karma

How does Heaven Hill go about certifying quality and renewability of the White Oak staves that go into their barrels? We have very tight barrel specs for our coopers, from the dimensions to the level of char. We consider ourselves experts at making whiskey, and our cooper partners are experts at building barrels. The cooperages we work with are also family owned and operated so it’s a very beneficial partnership that has a high level of trust. Quality is rarely an issue. As for renewability, we only use the barrel one time (except for Mellow Corn) so that is not a huge concern for us. However, we sell our barrels to other industries such as scotch, rum, tequila, beer, wine, etc. so it is definitely important that the barrel is able to have more than one life cycle.
Do you see a major issue coming to the Whiskey and Bourbon industry due to the decline of White Oak in the region? We actually have not experienced or seen a decline in white oak. The barrel shortage that was reported a few years back had nothing to do with white oak availability. It was the fact that we did not have enough loggers to go into the forests to get it. When the market crashed and the housing market declined, many of the loggers got out of the industry. This is what caused the shortage. We managed through it and are very well positioned with our cooper partners to maintain supply going forward.

davedavedaveck6 karma

Hi Denny! Where do you see the future of brands like Old Fitzgerald, and Heaven Hill 6yr BiB headed? Is it a focus to see these brands nationwide?

Long live BiB!

rockrev5 karma

Thanks for this AMA! I have a question specifically about the discontinued NAS Old Heaven Hill BiB (red, gold, black label). What was the approximate age of whiskey going into these bottles? I find it quite extraordinary for the price and tastes (certainly noses) well above four years. When I find these I make sure to buy them, as they’re nearly unbeatable for the value. Thanks again!

heavenhilldistillery8 karma

Old Heaven Hill BIB was 4 year old whiskey. Today, I drink our Evan Williams White label when I’m looking for a 4YO BIB.

squishynurse5 karma

What’s your favorite kind of cheese 🧀? Also, is a taco a sandwich?

heavenhilldistillery12 karma

My favorite cheese is probably colby. Straight colby, not on a sandwich. There is NO way a taco is a sandwich.

Quinnarm7 karma

Follow up: is a visor a hat and is a sandal a shoe?

heavenhilldistillery10 karma

Yes a visor is a hat, and yes a sandal is a shoe!

spicegirl21214 karma

How do you get to be a Master Distiller? What advice would you give to someone who wants to be one?

heavenhilldistillery8 karma

Well, I don’t think it was anything I ever set my mind to. All I ever knew was that I LOVED working in a distillery. I love the science behind it and the people involved. So, being willing to do anything in the operation is key. And I’m talking working nights, weekends, holidays, etc. You have to be willing to do that if you want to be a true Distiller, much less a Master Distiller. I have also been extremely fortunate to work with some legends in our industry: Booker and Fred, Bill and Rob Samuels, the Nelthropp family at Cruzan, Parker and Craig, the Shapiras. I think all of that has helped land me in my MD Position. I am VERY lucky to be where I am and to have worked with so many great people.

Bradyrulez4 karma

Do you see the future of American Brandy exploding in popularity much like Bourbon has in the last decade? If so, does Heaven Hill have any plans for this?

heavenhilldistillery9 karma

With the popularity of Bourbon, we continue to see people trying other brown spirits like Brandy. Heaven Hill currently owns the number-two selling Brandy with Christian Brothers. We just launched the first Bottled-In-Bond American Brandy two years ago, Christian Brothers Sacred Bond. I get to work with our distilling partners in California, O’Neill, which is an interesting collaboration as they are managing a different production process using grapes and copper pot stills.

SaintClive3 karma

Hey Denny, hope you're still answering questions!

1) I'm curious about the creative process that goes into the Parker's Heritage collection and Heaven Hill Select Stock. Does it start with seeing that you have adequate inventory of a product that you find stands above your traditional profile, or do you try and plan these things much father in advance? Unlike many distillery's limited edition products, Parker's Heritage, HHSS, and even William HeavenHill tend to vary widely in their expressions year to year.

2) On a similar topic, were you ever worried about Parker's Heritage 11? On the surface it appeared a little bit of a head scratcher; one year younger than Elijah Craig Barrel Proof and not even at barrel proof. I will say that I was very pleasantly surprised by the end product, but I went into it with hesitation.

3) This new age of bourbon popularity has come down with a few "trends" in what the enthusiasts have been looking for. Nowadays the emphasis in the community seems to be well aged, cask strength products with a particular emphasis on wheated or rye whisky. How does a distillery try and respond to shifting trends when it comes to making a product which may potentially take a decade or more to yield product?

heavenhilldistillery5 karma

1) I'm curious about the creative process that goes into the Parker's Heritage collection and Heaven Hill Select Stock. Does it start with seeing that you have adequate inventory of a product that you find stands above your traditional profile, or do you try and plan these things much father in advance? Unlike many distillery's limited edition products, Parker's Heritage, HHSS, and even William HeavenHill tend to vary widely in their expressions year to year. Still here my friend!! Probably our last question. Been hammering these out for almost 4 hours now!! Hard to believe. This is fun. As to Parker’s and HHSS, the answer is Yes to both questions. Because of our large inventory of whiskey, over 1.3M currently, it gives us the ability to look at all the different ages we have in stock and what mashbills were used to develop them. So that can be a good starting point. We have also taken on projects that originate with an actual new mashbill which requires a lot of patience. The Parker’s Malt Whiskey is a great example of this. So, as you can see, it’s a bit of both. I think that’s why we can have such a wide variety of expressions. We keep a very open mind throughout this entire process so sometimes we’re just as surprised as everyone else as to what we end up releasing. 2) On a similar topic, were you ever worried about Parker's Heritage 11? On the surface it appeared a little bit of a head scratcher; one year younger than Elijah Craig Barrel Proof and not even at barrel proof. I will say that I was very pleasantly surprised by the end product, but I went into it with hesitation. No, for me this was a no-brainer to honor Parker. Parker always loved his whiskey around 11 years from Deatsville. The tiered rickhouses there result in some of our best whiskeys. Parker also led the introduction of Single Barrel products to our lineup, so it was truly humbling for me to approve each Single Barrel that went into this release. 3) This new age of bourbon popularity has come down with a few "trends" in what the enthusiasts have been looking for. Nowadays the emphasis in the community seems to be well aged, cask strength products with a particular emphasis on wheated or rye whisky. How does a distillery try and respond to shifting trends when it comes to making a product which may potentially take a decade or more to yield product? As mentioned before, we are at a great advantage when it comes to responding to trends because of our large inventory of barrels (1.3M). This gives us the ability to hold barrels longer if there is a particular trend moving that direction without impacting some of our other offerings too much. One way we have reacted to demand is with rye whiskey. We like to joke around here that 10 years ago we spilled more bourbon rye on the floor each day than rye whiskey we made in a year. Now we are working rye whiskey in our production schedule each month. And cask strength is pretty easy to adjust to if need be just because most of our products go in at 125p so are typically higher than that when dumped. So, we can either cut with water or not! But I tell people, trying to predict what demands or trends will be 5, 12, 23 years from now is impossible. You should sit in one of our demand plan meetings. It’s almost comical talking about how much EC 23 YO we should be distilling today because we think we will sell X amount in 23 years. I’ve always said….if we get it right, we screwed up somewhere. You just can’t predict that. We just hope we’re in the ballpark.

Misplacedwaffle3 karma

Older Bourbon is often not better Bourbon, but Heaven Hill has a reputation for delicious high age bourbon. Why do you think you do it better than other people and how do you avoid it being over oaked?

heavenhilldistillery4 karma

I often tell people that Age does not equal quality nor does Price equal quality. First off, only you can say what you like and don’t like. Those that don’t get hung up on age and/or price are truly going to experience some great whiskies at phenomenal prices. As for our high age bourbon, we have an inventory of over 1.3 million barrels currently aging in 55 warehouses. And inside these 55 warehouses we have whiskey aging on various floors. This gives us the ability to be very picky about our older stocks. Just because it is 18 years old does not mean it automatically goes into a bottle. It has to taste right. I can tell you that sometimes the older stuff does not meet our standard and thus does not get released in any of our older expressions. Hope that helps!

brbn_nut3 karma

First, let me start by saying I appreciate the fact that we as fans can usually count on a special bottle being at the distillery or EWBE. I also don’t mind the limits you place on purchase because it gets your great product in as many hands as possible at a retail price.

With all of that said, I live in Ohio. Does Heaven Hill have any plans to increase distribution to you bourbon loving state up north?

heavenhilldistillery3 karma

We’re always looking to increase the availability of our whiskeys. The products that we sell only at our visitor centers and select Kentucky retailers often are allocated that way due to availability. There will probably always be some products that are only available in our backyard.

InternationalLibrary3 karma

Will Heaven Hill ever bring back regular Elijah Craig 12 year? The NAS Small Batch is great, but it's not quite the same as the good old 12 year. Would love to see it return, even at a higher price point.

Thank you!

swampgrafx3 karma

I have an unopened bottled in bond pint of 100 proof Old Heaven Hill. What should I expect in the way of flavor when I someday get around to cracking the seal?

heavenhilldistillery7 karma

This is a tough one. Bourbons that have been in the bottle that long are unpredictable. There are just too many variables … exposure to sunlight, quality of the cork seal, etc. Just enjoy the experience of tasting such an old bottling.

dnowask3 karma

What steps have you guys done to ensure there will not be another fire?

heavenhilldistillery4 karma

I wish I could say that we could absolutely prevent it but that is not the truth. I will say that we have put many measures in place to minimize the risk of another fire. 2 major components is installing fire sprinklers systems in new and old warehouses and also berming around warehouses that will either contain flaming liquid or directionally flow it away from other warehouses. The reality is, if you have a major lightning strike you have mere seconds for the fire sprinkler to extinguish the initial spark.

ConfuciusMonkey3 karma

How limited will the Old Fitz BiB 11 year be? Will it release multiple times?

Will Heaven Hill ever do a hard hat-style tour?

Are you pumped for Bourbon and Beyond this year?

heavenhilldistillery5 karma

1) How limited will the Old Fitz BiB 11 year be? Will it release multiple times?

The first release this Spring will be between 14,000 and 17,000 bottles. It will be released each Spring and Fall for the next five years. Our announcement has more detail http://blog.heavenhilldistillery.com/old-fitzgerald-bottled-bond-series/

2) Will Heaven Hill ever do a hard hat-style tour?

We love having visitors and have seen incredible growth in the tourism side of the Bourbon boom. Hopefully as tourism grows we will be able to offer additional tours such as a hard hat tour.

3) Are you pumped for Bourbon and Beyond this year?

Bourbon and Beyond was so fun last year. We’ll be there again this year with a Larceny Bourbon booth featuring http://spicypie.com/ pizza!

SupSquark2 karma

Hi! This is actually really interesting - I used to work at Kingsbarns Distillery on the east coast of Scotland. We use your bourbon barrels for maturation but have yet to break the first barrel (will have reached the 3 year maturation at the end of this month!!). For a lowlands scotch, what types of flavours would you anticipate might shine through from your bourbon, and how might you expect these to change as we mature for longer?

heavenhilldistillery10 karma

Great to hear Kingsbarns Distillery is using our barrels. I’m always amazed at where our barrels end up. I guess I’m biased when I tell you that your maturation is starting from a pretty damn good place! The obvious flavors that would shine through from our barrels (depending on product) is probably going to be the corn and caramel. We use a #3 char in our new barrels so you’re getting a pretty good caramelized layer in the wood with that. Add in the % corn we use in most of our mashbills and you should be able to obtain those notes fairly easily. And as far as how that might change as yours matures……...how about I just come over and help you with your tasting notes when you’re done. Deal???

brbn_nut2 karma

Hi Denny,

I appreciate what you guys are doing at Heaven Hill. Does Heaven Hill have a place where I can find events that you guys participate in? Festivals, dinners, shows etc.

heavenhilldistillery5 karma

We do keep this page (http://heavenhilldistillery.com/visit-us.php) updated specific to events happening at both of our visitor centers, the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience in Downtown Louisville and the Bourbon Heritage Center in Bardstown. We also participate in all 4 WhiskyFests and Whisky Live!

ColKurtz002 karma

My SO has taught me a considerable amount about wine and I've taught her a lot about bourbon. I've really grown to appreciate wine and I feel like my experience with tasting bourbon has made it easier to pick up tasting wine.

Do you find that bourbon has expanded your palate while tasting other things? Other than bourbon, what other types of alcohol do you enjoy in your down time?

heavenhilldistillery6 karma

Yes, tasting American Whiskey over the years has certainly helped expand my palate, or at least improved my ability to explain what I’m tasting. As for other types of alcohol, I love aged rum. I actually ran a rum distillery in the Caribbean for 3 years and fell in love with the rum making process and the people that make it happen.

peterjswift2 karma

What is your absolute favorite part of your job?

What about your favorite part of a day at work?

heavenhilldistillery5 karma

1) What is your absolute favorite part of your job?

The relationships. Relationships with co-workers, suppliers, consumers…..you name it. The people tied to this industry are fantastic and make this work a ton of fun.

2) What about your favorite part of a day at work?

Hmmm…...I always enjoy the first hour at work. Our distillery runs 24/7 so when I come in in the morning there is usually someone near the coffee pot that can give me the scoop on how things ran during the night and how things are currently going. And that conversation can easily move into discussions about college basketball, crappy winter weather, upcoming vacations, etc. Just love that first hour.

WhriskeyBusiness2 karma

With finished port/wine whiskeys becoming extremely popular (angels envy, midwinter's night dram, whistle pig old world) do you guys at HH have any plans to create a unique finished whiskey?

heavenhilldistillery7 karma

We’ve released a Parker’s Heritage cognac finish, as well as some Bourbon Heritage Center releases with unique finishes. With certain brands focused on innovation, there are always opportunities to experiment.

sethamus2 karma

How comparable is heaven hills production size (primary distilling and fermentation equipment size and numbers) compared to other distillers you have worked at or visited that are a major brand such as yourself? If smaller, is their future interest in ramping up production or is quality over quantity the main interest as a family owned business? Thanks for doing this AMA, loving it.

heavenhilldistillery6 karma

We just expanded our Bernheim facility to become the largest single-site Bourbon Distillery in American Whiskey, making 1,300 barrels per day. We keep an eye on production and capacity levels and are always planning for the future with quality always being our top concern, as it has been for the past 82 years.

get_wiggy_wit_it2 karma

Hi Denny! Super in love with you guys! Especially Rittenhouse and Mellow Corn. Wish I could get yalls bonded brandy in Texas. Got to listen to a fine group of gentlemen do a little heaven hill tasting to song a few years ago at a camp in Kentucky. Absolutely rad. So question. How do you think you guys have done differently on the marketing side than other companies? I’m in love with the old school look of your bottles. I just feel like y’all take a different approach with your brands than others might. Why is that do you think? And how has that worked for you guys? Thank you sir!

heavenhilldistillery4 karma

You’re talking about my friends Bernie Lubbers and Hickory Vaught. Bernie’s our Global Whiskey Ambassador. I think we’ve done a nice job of updating our packaging as time has gone on without getting rid of the heritage from each brand. I think a lot of that has to do with our family ownership. Because we aren’t publicly traded we’re able to take a long term outlook versus whatever makes a quick buck. By the way I think Sacred Bond is now in Texas, so you may want to check with Glazer’s on that.

Handyandy582 karma

In what ways do you feel like the bourbon industry (or American whiskey in general) has been influenced by distilling traditions in other countries? Inversely, in what ways do you think distilling in other countries has been influenced by the U.S. (beyond barrel exports)?

heavenhilldistillery4 karma

Well, most of us trace our roots to Irish and Scotch Distillers so it’s safe to say we have been greatly influenced. They brought the knowledge and expertise over with the founding of our country and we’ve benefited ever since!

AT_DOC2 karma

Hi Denny,

Thank you so much for doing this AMA. I have a few questions for you:

  1. What made you decide to become a distiler?

  2. What kind of career progression did you have to take to get to where you are today?

  3. Do you think the recent surge in artisan distilleries will have over all positive impact on the big brand whiskies?

  4. What was your first alcoholic drink?

  5. What flavor profile do you usually look for when you are sampling?

  6. Which king of the hill character do you closely relate to?

heavenhilldistillery4 karma

1) What made you decide to become a distiler? - Covered elsewhere

2) What kind of career progression did you have to take to get to where you are today? -Covered elsewhere

3) Do you think the recent surge in artisan distilleries will have over all positive impact on the big brand whiskies?

We like to say that a rising tide carries all ships, so any interest in whiskey is great for the industry. As consumers try more variety of products, more will become interested in the history behind brands. Heritage distilleries started out as artisan distillers decades ago and now have the history to support brands with storied histories. We nurture and preserve brands like Pikesville and Old Fitzgerald in order to keep that history alive. Our main focus will to continue to be the leader in authenticity and quality in the American Whiskey category as we have been for more than 80 years.

4) What was your first alcoholic drink?

Bourbon on the rocks. My dad let me try his bourbon when I was in 8th grade, however I had been making him drinks before that.

5) What flavor profile do you usually look for when you are sampling?

Just depends on what whiskey we are talking about. But for the most part, I’m looking for what should NOT be there.

6) Which king of the hill character do you closely relate to?

Hmm...Dale.

VideoBrew2 karma

How awesome is Lew Bryson's laugh? His book, Tasting Whiskey, is great and I know your makes are mentioned quite a lot.

As for a real question, in your opinion why do you think BiB bourbons aren't as popular as they should be?

heavenhilldistillery7 karma

Lew’s laugh is the best. It gets even better as the night wears on. As for BIB, they are definitely increasing in popularity by the day. Heaven Hill has always valued the importance of BIB offerings so I cannot say that we have done anything different to support them. I think as consumers have become, and are becoming, more educated about american whiskies they naturally gravitate towards BIB products because of the rich heritage and absolute dedication to the tight production standards. No FAKE NEWS when it comes to a BIB!

Bn_scarpia2 karma

Hello! Love your Elijah Craig single barrel and small batch bottles

Any plans for a barley based whisky? I'd love to see what you guys could do to an 'murican scotch styled whisky.

heavenhilldistillery3 karma

Our 9th Parker’s Heritage Collection release was an 8 year old Kentucky Straight Malt Whiskey with a 65% malted barley and 35% corn mashbill. We wanted to build a mashbill similar to Scotch with the Kentucky twist of corn. http://heavenhilldistillery.com/parkers-heritage-collection.php

xmagusx2 karma

Any cocktail suggestions specifically for your wheat whiskey? Bernheim is delicious, and I was curious if any of y'all had a recipe unique to it.

Oh, and any suggestions for where best to find a 2014 Parker’s Heritage?

heavenhilldistillery5 karma

Bernheim mixes well with Ginger Beer so probably something like a Buck. Easy to make and rather tasty. As for Parkers 2014, your guess is as good as mine. I am far from a collector so I am probably the last person you should ask. That being said, you can always search the web since there are many groups interested in collecting and finding hard to get releases.

brbn_nut1 karma

I love the special releases from HH. I have heard that Parker’s heritage collection may be ending. Is there any truth to that?

heavenhilldistillery7 karma

Absolutely false. This has been a rumor that has circulated, but it did not originate with us. Even though Parker is no longer with us, he has had a direct impact on many things that are currently aging and might become a Parkers release. This collection will continue because of that and also because we need to continue to honor him for years to come for what he has done for Heaven Hill and also our industry. It is also important to point out that the Parkers release every year donates a significant amount of proceeds to ALS research and patient care. That is reason enough to keep things going in the future.

KamehameBoom1 karma

What's your favorite flavor Gatorade?

heavenhilldistillery4 karma

I don't drink a lot of Gatorade anymore, but Lemon-Lime is my go-to.

J_Jaloszynski_SSOC1 karma

How can bourbon go up in proof as it ages? If it is barreled at 125°, how are there bottles of 130°+ Bourbons? Wouldn't the alcohol evaporate before the water?

heavenhilldistillery6 karma

Due to there being more moisture on the lower floors, you will typically see more alcohol escape than water, thus the proof is reduced. On higher floors that are considerably hotter, you lose more water than alcohol because a water molecule is less complex than an alcohol molecule. In the summer the 7th floor could be 30-40 degrees hotter than the first floor.

WyHamRob1 karma

Hi Denny, first off thank you for doing this AMA & making such a wonderful product. My question is how did you become a master distiller? What was your experience, education, and other factors that contributed to you landing such a wonderful job?

derpderpdonkeypunch0 karma

Are you guys going to bring back the Elijah Craig Small Batch 12 Year at any point, even as a limited release? It was my go-to daily drinker for years but, since the age statement was removed, the ECSB has lost the depth and complexity that it had.

heavenhilldistillery5 karma

We do not have any plans to release Elijah Craig Small Batch as a 12 year. When we made the decision to drop the age statement instead of drastically raising the price due to a shortage of barrels, we made a commitment to continually release Elijah Craig Barrel Proof as an aged stated 12YO.

firefly6345-1 karma

Y’all hiring?

heavenhilldistillery7 karma

Are you a mixologist? We have an opening at the Evan Williams Bourbon Experience. If not, keep tabs on our open jobs at https://heavenhill.com/careers.

DestinySuper-4 karma

But Scottish Whisky is better, am I right?

heavenhilldistillery9 karma

Wrong.