Connor McGregor and Mariah Carey are just a handful of people aimlessly and incessantly endorsing Irish whiskey and Irish cream, respectively. Bob Dylan is the latest high-profile celebrity to try his hand at the art of endorsement, partnering with Heaven’s Door to promote American Bourbon.
Each celebrity seems to take a different approach to their products too. Mariah Carey appears to be responsible for the name, with questions over her actual input into the production. Conor McGregor’s contribution seems to have been absolutely nothing other than picking an absurdly confusing brand name that DOES NOT mean that the product is 12 years old. However, I am slightly more hopeful for Bob Dylan’s endeavour. Heaven’s Door is a collection of handcrafted American Whiskeys co-created with Bob Dylan. Each bottle of Heaven’s Door also showcases Dylan’s distinctive welded iron gates, created in his Black Buffalo Ironworks studio…. Is he endorsing his own business through another venture?
I had heard of Heaven’s Door before but not tried anything from them, although I have listened to people give them good praise. So, if they’re a popular American brand, then it’s a bit of a big deal for them to collaborate with Redbreast Irish Whiskey, regarded as one of the most decorated Pot Still Irish whiskeys, and recently voted second in the World’s Most Admired Whiskies 2021 by Drinks International.
For this specific edition of Heaven’s Door, Master Blenders Ryan Perry of Heaven’s Door and Billy Leighton of Redbreast Irish Whiskey married “The best of American and Irish whiskey,” to produce a limited-edition 10-Year Aged Bourbon finished in Redbreast 12-year-old casks. Admittedly, I am a big Redbreast fan, so my curiosity got the better of me this time around, and I decided to indulge. Fortunately, I was generously offered a sample by Facebook whisky big-timer Martin McShane (I do get my samples elsewhere as well).
So, what is Bob Dylan’s connection to this bottling? He basically has friends in Ireland (the Clancy brothers) and was said to be inspired by their music. I trust Billy Leighton explicitly, especially when he remarks that Bob Dylan “is a perfectionist and knows his whiskey,” and primarily since Bob worked with him for no fewer than two years, so I’m expecting not to be let down here. Even more so, with the news that The Master Blenders’ Edition has already been awarded a Double Gold medal in a blind tasting in the 2021 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, I am intrigued as to whether this stands up.
The whiskey itself then. The aptly named Master Blenders’ Edition (or should it be Master Blenders’ Edition featuring Bob Dylan?) features Heaven’s Door 10-year aged Straight Bourbon finished in Redbreast’s signature Single Pot Still Casks for 15 months.
Nose: lots of caramel and vanilla notes, honeycomb with a little hint of spice at the back end, freshness to it as well, cherries and clementine oranges as well as cut grass. Milk chocolate.
Palate: orange becomes more noticeable, combined with the chocolate, reminding me of Terry’s chocolate orange, then there’s nuttiness to it too, more so in a Reese’s peanut butter cup. Some marzipan to it as well.
Finish: lots of warmth, more sweetness with honey and caramel and spice with the Peppercorns.
Let’s delve straight into it. £110 is just far too much money for this whiskey. I don’t know how many bottles were produced to make it ‘limited’, but I’d say £50 or less is probably a better reflection of its value; for example, you can pick up Redbreast 12-year-old for less than £40…despite its very UNlimited availability.
I’m afraid I just can’t get the price out of my head when I conduct this review because I should be expecting fireworks, but unfortunately, they never appear. There’s definitely an influence of Redbreast there, and that’s the creamy texture with spicy undertones for me. But the actual liquid is just okay. There are some good notes and flavours there, but it seems a bit unbalanced for me and lacks depth and character. Admittedly, I’m not a big bourbon/American whiskey drinker, but for me, this doesn’t enthuse or excite and does not make me want to splurge £110 for a bottle.
For all the hype of another celebrity endorsement, for me, this has been pretty anticlimactic. I think if it were priced lower, it would have scored slightly higher, but for £110 the market is just far too competitive to make it worthwhile.
I genuinely think that celebrities should stick to what they’re good at, whether it’s music-making or Christmas number 1s, and just leave whiskey making to the real artists.