Bob Dylan’s Heaven’s Door whiskey brand has been making some news over the past year. The whiskey launched in 2018 with a solid core lineup of sourced liquid — Tennessee Straight Bourbon, Double Barrel Whiskey (a blend of three whiskeys finished in new toasted American oak barrels), and Straight Rye Whiskey (finished in French oak cigar barrels). Last year, plans were announced to build an actual distillery in Nashville. While the majority of the whiskey will continue to be sourced, some will be distilled there, alongside a performance venue and restaurant. Dylan’s sculptures and artwork will be on display at the distillery as well.
This past year also saw the limited release of 10 Year Old 100 Proof Tennessee Straight Bourbon, a release that came from just two barrels of sourced whiskey. And now the first installment of The Bootleg Series is rolling out in limited numbers (less than 3,000 bottles), a 26-year-old whiskey that will cost $500 per bottle.
The whiskey was actually distilled in Canada, not Tennessee, but spent a quarter century aging in ex-bourbon barrels before being finished in Japanese Mizunara oak casks (custom toasted between medium and medium plus) for about six months. The mash bill is not revealed, other than that it is “low rye.” The 111.5 proof whiskey comes in a handmade ceramic bottle that features Dylan’s “Train Tracks” painting, along with a leather journal.
“The unusually long maturity of the whisky is balanced with the acquired notes of coconut, coriander, and a native incense of Dīngxiāng (clove)” said Ryan Perry, Heaven’s Door master blender, in a press release. “The Mizunara oak offers an exotic taste and lingering finish found in some the best Japanese whiskies.” We had a chance to taste, and this is indeed an interesting dram. There’s a bit of harsh alcohol on the nose, but the flavor begins to open up as you sip. It’s almost savory with a bit of sour cherry on the palate, followed by caramel, molasses, and faint incense smoke flavors that start to mingle together. This is unlike any other Canadian whisky out there, and seems to be a testament to the effects that Japanese oak can have on the spirit.
You can order Heaven’s Door The Bootleg Series here — orders begin shipping on December 15.
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