Martin Mills 24yr Old Bourbon

MARTIN MILLS 24YR OLD BOURBON

SPIRIT: Bourbon

VOLUME: 750 ml

ABV/PROOF: 54/107

AGE: 24 years

The practice of exporting American whiskey to foreign markets dates back to the mid-19th century, primarily as a means of opening doors to further trade and, for some astute producers, avoiding taxes. By the late 20th century, exports played a critical role in keeping distilleries in business, particularly those producing bourbon, which had fallen out of favor with domestic consumers. Through various arrangements, American whiskey found its way into Europe and Australia with some success. But it was Japan’s affection for bourbon that sustained, and changed, the industry. 

Bottled in 1999, the 24-year-old Martin Mills bourbon was produced by Heaven Hill exclusively for the Japanese market. An earlier version of the brand premiered in 1959, which Heaven Hill sold domestically and as an export years after. 

The pre-1999 export was bottled at 80 proof and lacked an age statement. It also showcased a different aesthetic from the subsequent version, with a white label and a glass design similar to that of Evan Williams, Heaven Hill’s flagship brand.

The 1999 Martin Mills release shares the same glass as Heaven Hill’s Rittenhouse Rye Bottled in Bond. The cap and neck are coated in black wax, though trimmed clean, as opposed to the dripping wax found on Bourbon Valley, another 24-year Heaven Hill export from the same year. The whiskey is “pre-fire,” or likely distilled at the Old Heaven Hill Distillery, which was destroyed by an industrial fire on Nov. 7, 1999. Pre-fire Heaven Hill expressions are universally prized, and export-only bottles like Martin Mills are virtually impossible to find. Though the name may not be recognizable to many bourbon fans, it should be at the top of the list for any serious collector.

Release: Martin MIlls – 24 Years Old

Misc.: Distilled in Kentucky and bottled by Martin Mills Distilling Co., Bardstown, KY 40004; barreled in December 1974, bottled in 1999

Collectors’ tips: A number of bottles were sold in black collector’s boxes featuring the Martin Mills logo in white and gold (similar to the bottle’s label). A total of 4,384 bottles were filled, individually numbered and exported to Japan. The reverse label, which is sometimes obscured by a retail sticker with Kanji, reads:

 

This rare super premium whiskey is fully matured and aged for 24 years in charred white oak barrels. This is a superb whiskey unlike any others and is notable for its elegant, deep, and mellow taste. We hope that you will enjoy this whiskey with your special memory of the 20th Century or serve it as the perfect whiskey to help welcome the year 2000.

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