Evan Williams 'Extra Aged' goes by the name 'Black Label' in the US. It's distilled at Heaven Hill in Bardstown Kentucky and is a minimum of two years of age given that it's a 'straight' bourbon whiskey - one hopes a wee bit more given the 'extra aged' moniker. The brand was founded in the mid 1900's though the labelling would have you believe that settler Evan Williams founded it in 1783 and that its been in existence the whole time. Ah, marketing.
Larceny is not the first of Heaven Hill's whiskey's to band about the Fitzgerald name. Old Fitzgerald was originally produced in 1870 by John E. Fitzgerald in Frankfort, Kentucky. Passing into ownership by Pappy van Winkle and production at the famous Stitzel-Weller Distillery, the brand was sold (along with Bernheim) to Heaven Hill in 1999.
Rittenhouse Square Straight Rye Whiskey was launched in 1934 as a two-year old rye whiskey by the Continental Distilling Corporation of Philadelphia. As the twenty-first amendment to the United States Constitution (the amendment which repealed prohibition) was passed in December of 1933, the illicit origins of this bottling are plain to see. Fast forward to 2017 and Rittenhouse Straight Rye 100 proof still wears its history proudly.
The British television game show Mastermind has two rounds: specialist subjects and general knowledge. Contestants’ specialist subjects range all the way from James Bond villains, to golfing majors, to English coinage 1066–1662. You can imagine the whisky equivalent, featuring general knowledge questions on distillation, ageing, and bottling, contrasting with specialist subject questions on Brora 1972 bottlings, Wild Turkey rickhouse variations, and weekend yeast activity. It’s levels to this ish.
American whiskey is often used as a catch-all term for spirits made outside of the more stringent regulations for both bourbon and rye. That said, there are still a few specific requirements for producing whiskey under this umbrella term. There are a small number of exceptions (state to state variation), but American whiskey must be: distilled to less than 95% ABV; stored in oak containers; bottled at a minimum of 40% ABV and (and this is where the flexibility comes in) – must possess the taste, aroma and characteristics generally attributed to whisky. As with both bourbon and rye, to be labelled as ‘straight whiskey’ the liquid must be aged at least two years and contain no additives.
The Single Cask’s 10 year old Heaven Hill hails from May of 2009 where it was filled into virgin oak before being bottled in the month after it’s 10th birthday in June 2019. A mere 130 bottles were produced from the barrel – however a little digging reveals that 60 bottles from cask #152724 were snaffled away as festival exclusive for The Village 2020 – an annual Nuremberg-based fair running since 2013 which brings together distillers, importers and of course drinkers. There are still bottles from the original 130 outturn available for £74.95 from Master of Malt.