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Heaven’s Door Whiskey: A Guide to Bob Dylan’s Spirit

Whiskey fans may have noticed a new name on shelves in recent years: Heaven’s Door Whiskey. Coming in several varieties, this brand offers a distinctly American whiskey experience with a strong American influence.

What makes Heaven’s Door Whiskey special? Where does the company get its name? What types of products does Heaven’s Door Spirits (the official company name) offer? Keep reading to learn all this and more.

Heaven’s Door Whiskey: An Introduction

Heaven’s Door Whiskey takes its name from the Bob Dylan tune “Knockin’ on Heaven’s Door.” That’s not merely a case of music-loving distillers paying homage to another American classic. Bob Dylan himself collaborated with the team at Heaven’s Door to co-create a line of whiskeys that reflect the Americana of Dylan’s folk catalog.

As Dylan puts it on the Heaven’s Door website, “I wanted to create a collection of American Whiskeys that, in their own way, tell a story. I’ve been traveling for decades, and I’ve been able to try some of the best whiskey spirits that the world has to offer. This is great whiskey.”

What Is the Alcohol Content of Heaven’s Door Whiskey?

The alcohol content of Heaven’s Door Whiskey can vary from one variety to another. The alcohol content for its most widely-available products is as follows:

  • Straight Bourbon: 92 proof
  • Double Barrel: 100 proof
  • Straight Rye: 92 proof

Heaven’s Door also offers a range of limited release whiskeys. Some are high proof whiskeys, while others are session whiskeys.

What Is the History of Heaven’s Door Whiskey?

Heaven’s Door whiskey has unique origins when compared to that of other whiskey brands. In 2015, Bob Dylan filed a trademark application for the term “bootleg whiskey.” According to a New York Times story, this caught the attention of spirits entrepreneur Marc Bushala.

Bushala had recently sold his Angel’s Envy bourbon brand for $150 million. He contacted Dylan to ask if the singer would like to collaborate on a line of whiskeys.

Dylan officially signed on in 2018. He’s a partner in Heaven’s Door Spirits, investing his time and money into the creation of quality whiskeys. In other words, this isn’t just a case of a celebrity agreeing to put their name on a product for a paycheck.

Where Is Heaven’s Door Whiskey From?

Heaven’s Door Spirits’s headquarters is in Chicago, Illinois., but its products are made in such traditional locations as Tennessee. The company also plans to open a distillery in Pleasureville, Kentucky, in Spring of 2024. Currently, Heaven’s Door Spirits owns The Last Refuge, a live music venue and “brand home” in Louisville, KY.

When Was Heaven’s Door Whiskey Created?

Heaven’s Door Whiskey first arrived on the scene in 2018. True, that means it hasn’t stood the test of time when compared to other recognizable brands on the market.

That said, it’s worth noting that key team members at Heaven’s Door Spirits already have proven track records in the whiskey business. The whiskey itself may be new, but the people involved in creating it have been doing this for a long time now.

What Types of Heaven’s Door Whiskey Are There?

Heaven’s Door whiskey comes in such varieties as:

  • Straight Bourbon: Heaven’s Door Spirits ages its Straight Bourbon variety in new American oak barrels for at least five years. This Heaven’s Door whiskey has won a gold medal at the 2018 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and Double Gold at the 2018 New York World Wine & Spirits Competition.
  • Double Barrel: Consisting of two straight bourbons and a single straight rye, the Double Barrel variety of Heaven’s Door whiskey begins when each whiskey in the blend ages for a minimum of five years in its own barrel. The whiskeys then age for another six to twelve months in a single custom Tonnellerie Radoux barrel. Awards and acclaim for the Double Barrel variety include a Double Gold at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition and the Whiskey of the Year award at the London Spirits Competition.
  • Straight Rye: Heaven’s Door Spirits ages its Straight Rye variety for six to eight years to achieve a certain degree of consistent maturity across every bottle. Once the whiskey has reached maturity, it finishes the aging process in sherry casks. The Heaven’s Door Straight Rye whiskey has won a gold medal at the 2019 San Francisco World Spirits Competition, along with gold medals at both the 2018 and 2019 New York World Wine & Spirits Competition.

As mentioned earlier, these are not the only types of Heaven’s Door whiskeys available. The brand also periodically releases limited edition offerings.

What Ingredients Are in Heaven’s Door Whiskey?

Ingredients will naturally vary from one Heaven’s Door whiskey to another. However, a cursory glance indicates the distillers are serious about offering authentic products.

For example, the overview of the Straight Rye variety indicates the distillers use a 100% rye mash bill to create it. For bourbons, the team uses traditional ingredients used in bourbon production.

According to scholarly articles on the subject, a bourbon mash must consist of a certain proportion of corn, rye, and malted barley for the finished whiskey to qualify as bourbon. The distillers at Heaven’s Door Spirits ensure their products meet these criteria.

How Much Does Heaven’s Door Whiskey Usually Cost?

Prices will vary depending on what type of Heaven’s Door spirit you buy, where you purchase it, how much you purchase, and more. The average prices for the company’s most popular offerings are:

  • Straight Bourbon: $52 for a 750 ml bottle
  • Double Barrel: $55 for a 750 ml bottle
  • Straight Rye: $79.99 for a 750 ml bottle

Remember, these are just the prices for the standard line of Heaven’s Door whiskeys. Prices for any of the limited edition or premium whiskeys the company releases may be higher.

What Is the Best Way to Enjoy Heaven’s Door Whiskey?

Many whiskey aficionados prefer to drink whiskey straight. Even if you mix it with a cocktail later, trying Heaven’s Door Whiskey on its own first can allow you to truly appreciate the nuances of the flavors.

Don’t worry if you have limited experience tasting straight spirits. The following tips will help you make the most of the experience when you open a new bottle of Heaven’s Door Whiskey:

  • Try Drinking It Neat: Although you can enjoy it on the rocks if you prefer a cold glass, adding ice to your whiskey can actually numb your palate somewhat. The result? You may not be fully able to taste all the flavors present in a given whiskey. Try drinking it without ice first to see if you can appreciate it at room temperature.
  • Add Some Water: Adding just a few drops of water to a glass of whiskey can actually “open up” the notes and help them stand out, particularly when you first smell the whiskey.
  • Choose the Right Glass: Whiskey glasses come in several styles. If you’re just starting out as a whiskey enthusiast, try Heaven’s Door Whiskey with a “neat” whiskey glass. This style’s surface area lets let a whiskey’s flavorful aromas stand out while also cutting down on the harshness of the ethanol.

That’s not to say you can’t enjoy Heaven’s Door Whiskey in a whiskey cocktail. Because these whiskeys boast robust and complex flavor profiles, the best type of cocktail for these whiskeys may be one in which the other ingredients don’t overpower the spirit. Popular examples would include the old fashioned and the Manhattan.

How to Choose a Good Heaven’s Door Whiskey

Start with one of the three main varieties when choosing your first Heaven’s Door Whiskey. Unless you’re an experienced whiskey fan who knows how to evaluate the various qualities of different products, you may want to stick with the basics before branching out.

The best way to decide which type of whiskey you want to try first is to learn about the flavor profiles of your options. They are:

  • Straight Bourbon: Tasting notes include caramel, cinnamon, and nutmeg. Notes on the nose include caramel, vanilla, and oak.
  • Double Barrel: Tasting notes are very complex, with caramel, dark cherry, Meyer lemon, dough, and others resulting in a uniquely flavorful whiskey. The aroma’s notes include maple, oak, and dried berries.
  • Straight Rye: Oak, fruit, and a variety of spices are the dominant notes for the nose of this Heaven’s Door Whiskey. Along with honey, caramel, and vanilla, the tasting notes include a unique flavorful kick thanks to the amontillado sherry casks.

If you ever get an opportunity to visit one of the brand’s locations (including the as-yet unopened distillery), you may also ask the staff there to recommend a whiskey. Their expertise could help you find an option that’s ideal for someone with your tastes.

Where Can You Find Heaven’s Door Whiskey?

Heaven’s Door Whiskey has grown quickly in popularity. Partially, this may be due to the brand’s association with Bob Dylan. However, the awards these whiskeys have earned testify to the fact that the brand is fairly easy to find simply because the products themselves are very good.

Heaven’s Door Spirits offers a tool on its website through which you can find a store carrying its products. Additionally, you can find Heaven’s Door whiskey through various online spirits stores, like Speakeasy Co.

What Are Popular Alternatives to Heaven’s Door Whiskey?

Other brands that compete with Heaven’s Door whiskey include:

Those are just a few brands whose whiskeys match the price point and overall reputation of Heaven’s Door Spirits. You may also like brands like heritage distilling or Knobel whiskey. If you’re not a whiskey fan, other spirits brands that are famous at least in part thanks to their celebrity backers include:

  • Casamigo tequila (George Clooney)
  • Aviation gin (Ryan Reynolds)
  • 818 tequila (Kendall Jenner)

Be aware that not all spirit companies that partner with celebrities involve them in the development of their products to the same extent that Heaven’s Door involves Bob Dylan. Don’t assume a particular liquor is high-quality just because a celebrity you admire lended their name to it.  Do your research first to ensure you’re getting a bottle that’s worth your money.

Heaven’s Door Whiskey FAQs

Answers to additional questions you may have about Heaven’s Door Whiskey include the following:

How Does Bob Dylan Contribute to Heaven’s Door Whiskey?

Along with directly working with the team that created the brand when developing its whiskey, Bob Dylan also contributes his own art to every bottle of Heaven’s Door Whiskey.

Who Is the Master Distiller at Heaven’s Door Spirits?

When Heaven’s Door Spirits announced plans to open a distillery in Pleasureville, Kentucky, the company named Ken Pierce as Master Distiller for the project. Pierce is an industry veteran who formerly served as Master Distiller for Barton Brands Distillery.

What Do I Need to Know About the Heaven’s Door Bootleg Series?

The Heaven’s Door bootleg series began in 2022. It consists of various limited edition whiskeys in bottles featuring Bob Dylan’s paintings. Each comes in a leather case to both store and display the bottle.

Heaven’s Door Whiskey: A Tribute to an American Icon

bartender pouring whiskey

Heaven’s Door Whiskey has already earned enough acclaim from industry professionals to indicate its by no means a product that’s coasting on name recognition.

Instead of using Bob Dylan’s image to boost sales, the team here has clearly partnered with a legend in an attempt to create a whiskey that honors his artistic legacy. Try it for yourself to see if you think it lives up to its ambitions!

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