Bob Dylan didn’t bother to start out on Burgundy; instead, he went straight for the harder stuff. The legendary musician and Nobel Laureate unveiled his own line of whiskey this week. Heaven’s Door Spirits, a collaboration between the bard and distiller Marc Bushala, will hit shelves next month.
“You don’t always find inspiration,” Dylan waxed philosophical in a marketing materials. “Sometimes, it finds you. We wanted to create a collection of American whiskeys that would each tell a story.”
The full Heaven’s Door Spirits range includes a Tennessee straight bourbon, a double barrel whiskey and a straight rye. The line will be available in Tennessee in a few weeks according to a press release. Then, subsequent releases are planned for Florida, California, Illinois, New York and Texas. A third phase will see the bottles appear in the rest of America.
After learning that Dylan owned a trademark for “bootleg whiskey” (a riff on his 13 album “Bootleg Series,”) Bushala approached the famed poet. Several years later, the two men are partners in a distillery housed in a former church (sooooo Dylan) in Tennessee.
The original visions of whiskey came from the singer’s freewheeling early years as Woody Guthrie influenced explorer of Americana. “There have been spirits and whiskey in his music for as long as he’s been making it, going on 60 years, and in the kind of rural Americana that plays into it,” Bushala told The Guardian. “So for sure in his mind, there were elements he was after. But it wasn’t directly articulated.”
As for the spirit, itself, the company describes the base bottle as “A unique mash bill from Tennessee, our Bourbon utilizes 30% “small grains” to complement the character imparted from spending more than 6 1/2 years in American oak barrels. The result is smooth and lasting with notes of vanilla and baked bread layered over a bed of toasted oak.” The ABV clocks in at 45%.
Don’t think twice, it’s alright. The 50% Double Barrel is “comprised of a unique blend of three different whiskeys, our double barrel finishing process utilizes hand-toasted, new American oak barrels for a secondary aging worthy of another year’s wait,” according to the marketing materials.
Dylan’s well documented francophillia is manifest in the 92% ABV rye. “Straight Rye Whiskey in toasted oak cigar barrels, air-dried in the low-lying mountain region of Vosges, France,” notes a release. “This proprietary finishing results in a smoother, more approachable rye with notes of orange peel, coriander, and spice.”
Skeptics worry that Heaven’s Door is just another gimmick to capitalize on the booming premium American whiskey market. However, as far as Dylan endorsements are concerned, the Guthrie explanation is far more logical than say the infamous Victoria’s Secret campaign. Plus, any Dylan devotee can tell you that the songwriter has been accused of selling out since ’66… and he really doesn’t give a damn. Drink it f-cking loud, Bob.