Classification: Straight Bourbon
Company: Heaven Hill
Distillery: Heaven Hill
Release Date: Ongoing
Age: 3 Years
Mashbill: 78% Corn, 12% Malted Barley, 10% Rye
Color: Golden Hay
MSRP: $13 (1L)
Quality House Old Style Bourbon is produced by Heaven Hill Distilleries. While the brand has been a long standing staple on liquor store shelves, it no longer displays Heaven Hill’s name, instead just focusing on Quality House Distillers, which is one of the many names that Heaven Hill does business as.
The nose embraces the bourbon's low proof, offering pleasing yet very light scents. Faint apple juice , caramel, muted vanilla, and light fresh oak scents are noticeable. A touch of smokiness adds a tad of intrigue. Muted overall, the aroma makes you really work to distinguish the scents.
The palate follows the nose’s lead in erring on the lighter side, but brings just enough flavors to be pleasing. Light oak and muted vanilla are notable, along with light corn syrup and hints of canned fruit cocktail. A pop of white peppercorn spice adds a nice dimension and helps pull up the midpoint of the sip into average territory.
A flash of rye spice starts off the finish providing a base for a light lingering heat. This is joined by a touch of light sweet vanilla and dry oak. A touch of chalkiness slowly emerges to end this overall ho-hum sip.
If a white label Heaven Hill Old Style Bourbon sounds familiar to you, that’s because just a few years ago, the company’s Bottled in Bond version was heavily talked about as a great value to those that could find a bottle. The bourbon was a solid albeit average everyday drinker, that was a great example that quality bourbons need not be expensive. The fun ended when Heaven Hill discontinued this bourbon in 2018, later reintroducing it in 2019 with different packaging, a 7 year age statement, and a higher price point.
Coming in 20 proof points lower and a year less in age than the discontinued Bottled in Bond version, it should be no surprise that Quality House Old Style Bourbon struggles to meet that same average rating that its 100 proof older sibling used to. Instead ,its sip is more akin to other 80 proof bourbons on the market including Benchmark Old No. 8 Brand and Basil Hayden. That’s not to say it’s disappointing, more that it struggles to stand out in a sea of other bourbons that offer the same type of sip. One part of the sip might be average, but the other parts of the sip are below average at best. There’s nothing inherently wrong with that strategy, but it certainly won’t help you stand out.
While Quality House Old Style Bourbon will not be winning any awards for the sip it delivers, it will wow you with its easy to affordable price. Coming in 1 liter bottles and being priced at $13 (or often less), that’s just a hard offering to ignore. This is a bourbon that everyone should have in their arsenal to either use as a well-balanced mixer or to introduce others who may be curious about diving into the world of bourbon but you’re not quite ready to pour them one of your more expensive bottles.
This bourbon reminded me of the similar thoughts I had in my Benchmark Old No. 8 Brand review. If you’re a fan of Basil Hayden, you owe it to yourself to try Quality House Old Style Bourbon. Sure it may not have the fancy packing that Basil Hayden has, instead it’s the exact opposite, coming in the most plain packaging ever. However, the sip holds up equally to what Basil Hayden offers and for a fraction of the price. Plain and simple, this bourbon is nothing short of an outstanding value.
Quality House Old Style Bourbon is unpretentious and excels in the value category, but has a hard time distinguishing itself where it counts.
The bottom shelves of bourbon aisles in liquor stores are overlooked, and sometimes for good reason. For every age stated 80 proof bourbon like Quality House Old Style Bourbon or Benchmark Old No. 8 Brand, you also have bottles like Kentucky Gentleman which just aren’t worth it. That said, Quality House Old Style Bourbon is also a good reminder that you shouldn’t be afraid to bend down and check out what this shelf has to offer. You most likely won’t find a bourbon that will win whiskey of the year anytime soon, but you may find ones that while lacking, still offer enough to be worth the very low cost of admission. Quality House Old Style Bourbon may offer a below-average sip, but it’s not characteristically bad by any means. Its incredible value makes it a bourbon worth seeking out and trying, if nothing else to say that you’ve explored the bottom shelf of your local liquor store at least once.