Spirit Of The Week: Heaven’s Door Calvados Cask Finish Whiskey

Bob Dylan’s new Tennessee bourbon soaks in both French oak and apple brandy barrels.

(Heaven’s Door)

Bob Dylan’s highly respected Heaven’s Door endeavor recently dropped the inaugural expression in its new Exploration Series. As with most distilleries worth their wort these days, Heaven’s Door has conceived this new line to play with new finishing methods for their craft whiskey, hoping to create innovative flavor profiles in limited-edition expressions. 

For now, Heaven’s Door aims to release two new bottles in the Exploration Series every year, with each “pushing the boundaries of innovation with new blends, secondary finishes, and intriguing staves.” 

So for their debut spirit in the series, Master Distiller Ken Pierce and Master Blender Alex Moore started with their highly regarded Heaven’s Door straight bourbon whiskey, aged for at least five years then finished that juice with a strong Gaulois twist. 

First they take casks from Normandy that soaked in delicious Calvados apple brandy for at least two years, emptied them out, and replaced the juice with their own 5-year-old straight bourbon. Then they toasted some French oak staves to a medium-heavy brown and dumped those planks into the Calvados barrels. 

This secondary aging process allowed their bourbon to steep in the toasted French oak staves while also soaking in the ex-Calvados barrels for a double-French-combo punch. The resulting Heaven’s Door Exploration Series I Calvados Finish whiskey earns notes of sweet cider and baked caramel apple from the brandy and baking notes like butter croissants, oak and brown sugar from the toasted staves. 

“Our new medium-heavy toasted French oak staves bring forth balanced complexity and enhanced aroma, culminating in a dark color and a smoother, creamier mouthfeel,” Master Blender Alex Moore notes. “[It] provides a truly enriched flavor experience.” 

Despite its potency (bottled at 54% ABV), Heaven’s Door Exploration Series I Calvados Cask  Finish Tennessee Straight Bourbon Whiskey is not only sumptuous but also surprisingly smooth, with very little heat on the throat. $80

Follow Deputy Editor Nicolas Stecher on Instagram at @nickstecher and @boozeoftheday.