The New Bourbon From Bob Dylan Is Complex Like His Songs
Heaven's Door Bootleg Volume III is reviewed by our whiskey critic.
It seems to me that there isn't much more to say about the world of celebrity-backed spirits brands at the moment. Maybe it is best to look at them individually instead of as a whole. The Heaven's Door whiskey brand seems to fall into the latter category. Some are clearly attempts at quick cash grabs, while others are more likely to be a passion project, or at least a passing interest. Bob Dylan appears to be trying to capitalize on a quick cash grab with the Heaven's Door whiskey brand.
As far as Dylan is concerned, he doesn’t need the money, and according to his marketing, he is actually a whiskey connoisseur, if you believe his marketing. The team behind the brand certainly knows what they are doing, and they offer three high-quality, even if expensive, expressions of the brand. These three whiskeys include straight bourbon, straight rye, and double barreled whiskeys, which are all sourced from local and regional sources.
As far as high-priced, rarified Heaven's Door whiskey is concerned, the Bootleg Series, introduced in 2019, is the pinnacle of them. The first volume of the whiskey was aged 26 years old and had an unidentified origin (although the lack of the "e" indicates that Canada is the most likely suspect). Volume 2 was a 15-year-old bourbon finished in Jamaican rum casks, while Volume 3 was a cask-strength (121.2 proof) 13-year-old bourbon finished in vino de Naranja barrels from southern Spain, giving it a cask-strength-strength bourbon.
The process of finishing this whiskey is very different from sherry-seasoned oak, which is usually what you think of when you think about Spanish influence on whiskey.
A sweet white dessert wine was macerated with bitter orange peel in the barrels that were used to mature the bourbon previously, according to the brand, in order to add flavor and color to it. Almost a year was spent finishing the bourbon in these casks, which was more than enough time to have a significant impact on the whiskey.
In addition to its dark amber color, it also has a slight orange hue to it. There are notes of rich caramel, vanilla, and baked apple on the nose, but it is on the palate that it truly shines. As you swirl the liquid around your tongue, you will feel notes of blueberry jam, marzipan, maraschino cherry syrup, and fudge. It has an almost viscous mouthfeel.
The flavor of this whiskey is intense, tending to be on the verge of overpowering the bourbon's inherent characteristics just as it is pulling back to give us more familiar flavors associated with American whiskeys.
Having spent so much time in these finishing barrels, I'm guessing that if time had been spent in these barrels for a wider period of time, this whiskey would have been inexorably altered in a way that might have made it less enjoyable. As it stands now, I think this whiskey would make a nice after-dinner drink.
Each bottle of this whiskey costs around $600 or more, depending on the retailer. There are only 3,949 bottles available of this whiskey, and each one will cost you a little less than $600 or less. The bottles come in handmade ceramic decanters decorated with Dylan’s paintings called “Sunday Afternoon” (he is also a visual artist). Moreover, the bottle comes with a leather journal adorned with intricate details that are meant to be reminiscent of Spanish architecture.
As much as it might not blow people's minds as Dylan going electric once did, The Bootleg Series Volume 3 is sure to satisfy those who enjoy dessert bourbons and those who like brown spirits in general.