heaven hill bourbon new make review
Heaven Hill Trybox Bourbon New Make
Distillery: Heaven Hill
Type & Region: Bourbon new make, Kentucky, USA
Composition: 78% corn, 10% rye, 12% barley
Aged: 0 seconds in oak
Price: $26-30, but discontinued around 2014
From the Heaven Hill website:
It’s been so long since this has been available that it’s not even on the website anymore..
heaven hill bourbon new make overview
Heaven Hill Trybox Bourbon New Make is the foundation of all Heaven Hill rye’d bourbon. This is the unaged new make that is barrel aged and becomes Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, certain Parker’s Heritage releases, and any number of bourbons that are sourced from Heaven Hill. At 62.5% ABV, Heaven Hill also kindly bottled it at barrel-entry proof (aka full proof), giving us the full experience of what I might call infant bourbon. For those who like to get a little adventurous, drinking new make is a wonderful way to learn about the origins of a bourbon and explore how it transforms from white spirit to that lovely oak-matured bourbon. For others…it’s completely undrinkable and awful.
This New Make was first released in 2011, and I think that it was either a one-time release or was occasionally released for a few years and discontinued around 2014. Lucky for me, I happened to stumble onto one of these in the summer of 2020 and knew that I had to have it, especially since I enjoyed it so much at Jack Rose Saloon years ago. For better or worse, few major distilleries sell their new make via retailers because it’s probably not all that popular, although some do sell it at the distillery as a fun find (e.g., Maker’s Mark). I really like new make, so let’s dive into the Elijah Craig and Evan Williams origin story in this Heaven Hill Trybox Bourbon New Make review / exploration.
heaven hill bourbon new make smell
Right out of the gate, Heaven Hill Trybox Bourbon New Make has this unexpected but interesting mix of bright lime and pine that’s part tequila and part gin. It’s a little grassy as well, like a freshly mowed lawn, with a little black pepper and dried orange rind. To reinforce my point, I wouldn’t say that the citrus note is huge, but it’s definitely noticeable as there isn’t any caramel, oak, or spice that would otherwise cover it up, replaced with brighter alcohol notes that aren’t unpleasant at all. After 40 minutes of breathing, the heat is actually quite well controlled. Who would have thought.
After swirling, the bright alcohol definitely comes out more, but it’s neither harsh nor unpleasant. I continue to find dried orange and lime peel, reminiscent of Sprite, some light pine and black pepper notes, as well as that freshly mowed lawn. Heaven Hill Bourbon New Make is actually quite fragrant and interesting, although take it with a grain of salt because I already like New Make. Here’s a hot take, it smells better than Buffalo Trace Mash #1 White Dog.
heaven hill bourbon new make taste & aftertaste
The corn mash comes through more in the flavors with a noticeable orange and lime presence, something bitter (maybe from the rye), and malted grain. This Heaven Hill Bourbon New Make definitely has some bite from the 125 proof, but it’s not bad all things considered when it has exactly 0 seconds of oak aging to it.
After “chewing”, the lime comes more to the front with black pepper, a little malted grain, and dried grass. This again reminds me of Sprite, but far less sweet and with a ton more alcohol, which sort of behaves like the carbonation in soda. Don’t be mistaken, this New Make is not that sweet, and is quite similar to tequila (weird I know). I’m pretty sure that this New Make is non chill filtered, because it’s incredibly oily and I can feel this squeaky-clean sensation on my teeth. This tastes pretty good too, but obviously isn’t whiskey quite yet. Right now the Heaven Hill Bourbon New Make has more in common with other clear spirits than with Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. Still, I really dig it as is.
The finish has this lingering dried citrus peel, a drop of juice, and black pepper – very much like gin. After “chewing”, the heat lingers around a little longer with dried lime peel, black pepper, malted grains, and a light buttery note.
Place on the Whiskey Shelf
I really like Heaven Hill Trybox Bourbon New Make. It’s by and far more complex and nuanced than I expected, especially when Buffalo Trace White Dog Mash #1 and Wheated Mash are more one-dimensional (FYI – I prefer White Dog Mash #1 over Wheated Mash). The tequila and gin-like citrus notes in the nose and palate, as well as the lightly vegetal and earthy pine and grass are completely unexpected and fun. This is not your run of the mill whitedog / moonshine / white lightning, it’s already quite interesting and enjoyable as-is, like an overproof tequila or gin.
Heaven Hill Trybox Bourbon New Make gets an “Incomplete” because…well it’s unaged and I don’t rate unaged whiskey that isn’t done yet. Regardless, the foundation of all of Heaven Hill’s rye-d bourbons is very strong and promising, and I feel fortunate to have found this straggler sitting on the shelf for me to enjoy. If you’re wondering, yes I do willingly drink this out of pure enjoyment. Now if you are somehow persuaded to try to find this new make but you can’t find one, I guess you could possibly tour the Heaven Hill Distillery and bring a cup to try the new make straight off the still, just remember to ask first.