Bourbon Valley 24yr Barreled in 1974 Black Wax


SPIRIT: Bourbon

VOLUME: 750 ml

ABV/PROOF: 53.5/107

AGE: 24 years

Kentucky distilleries had a growing excess of mature whiskey by the 1970s. This abundance of inventory, frequently referred to as “the Glut,” created a significant dilemma for producers. Ideally, well-aged bourbon should be bottled and sold at a premium price, but due to dismal domestic sales, much of this mature stock wound up in everyday expressions, sold at low prices and at low age statements. 

Relief would come by the 1980s and 1990s, thanks to a healthy export market, particularly Japan. By the end of the 20th century, a sizable portion of Kentucky’s finest whiskey was being  bottled exclusively for Japan.

In 1999, Heaven Hill released two 24-year-old bourbons for the Japanese market: Martin Mills and Bourbon Valley. Each expression is composed of similar stocks with near-exact marketing language. However, their packaging is different, with Bourbon Valley boasting a dripping-wax seal. Dripping wax was and remains most closely identified with Maker’s Mark, which has staunchly defended it as part of its trademark since 1985. National Distillers, the owner of Maker’s Mark, apparently never took legal action, but the very possibility of bad blood between the two distilleries adds to the allure and collectibility of the bottle.

Bourbon Valley shares the same glass design as another Heaven Hill release, Henry McKenna Single Barrel (Bottled in Bond), which it kept in the domestic market. Apart from the dripping wax, a second unique feature is its neck label, which reads “barreled in 1974.” Like Martin Mills, the bourbon was likely distilled at the Old Heaven Hill Distillery, before the 1996 fire which destroyed a large portion of Heaven Hill’s main campus in Bardstown, Kentucky. Pre-fire Heaven Hill bourbon is highly sought after and continues to appreciate in value – and pre-fire expressions with double-digit age statements, like Bourbon Valley, are some of the most treasured.

Release: Bourbon Valley – 24 Years Old

Spirit: Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey

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


Collectors’ tips: A number of bottles were sold in brown collector’s boxes featuring the Bourbon Valley logo in gold foil. A total of 5,000 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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