September 22 2020
This summer, Rolling Stone sat down with Heaven’s Door Master Blender Ryan Perry with one goal in mind — to create an ultimate, custom blended whiskey. Seats at the table were a hot commodity: Senior Editor David Fear and Deputy Photo Editor Sacha Lecca, both whiskey aficionados, came together to pair Rolling Stone’s storied history with Bob Dylan’s namesake bourbons and ryes to craft the perfect blend.
What drew us to Heaven’s Door, aside from bearing the name of Bob Dylan’s 1973 hit, is the ever-evolving catalog of small batch whiskeys with uncommon blends, special barrel finishes and rare aged stocks. Each bottle is adorned with Dylan’s distinctive iron gate artwork to showcase the blend of art and craft.
Originally scheduled to be an in-person session at Rolling Stone’s headquarters in New York City evolved into a socially distant tasting and blending session via Zoom on a late Thursday afternoon. A tasting that stemmed from Dylan’s long-standing history with Rolling Stone, Perry led a group connected from Chicago to Brooklyn to the Upper West Side of Manhattan through a crash course of his barrel-picked bourbons and ryes that were sent to everyone’s home. The key would be to land on a solid bourbon as the base, adding variations of the naturally spicy rye to build flavor and expand the palate for a blend that truly represented our two brands.
The differences in the bourbons were easy to spot. While one was more subtle, another was described as a “panasonic blast that hits you on the first sip.” The ryes held more punch and differentiation, and were key in creating something truly unique as a finished blend.
Ninety minutes later, the group landed on two blends with a wide range of flavors and personality. One, a little more like Rolling Stone circa 1973 — approachable, conversational, a smooth finish. The second, Rolling Stone circa 1989 — in your face from the first sip and finishes strong.
Fear elaborated on each blend, “So here’s how I would compare the two. The first blend we did, which was the 60-10-30, (one bourbon and two rye batches) was like Rolling Stone circa 1973. And the second one, with one bourbon and two split ryes (60-20-20), is more like Rolling Stone circa 1989. It’s a little rougher around the edges, a little bit more aggressive”
Perry then asked the ultimate question: Which decade did he like better?
“I would go with ’73,” answered Fear, “I’m starting to come around more, and just flavor wise I think you’re getting more out of it. You’re tasting the bourbon a little bit more. You’re getting the spice but it’s muted to the point where it’s not overwhelming. You’re getting the second rye coming in really beautifully. … It feels like they’re really, for lack of a better term, having a great conversation between the three of them”
Perry called it the best custom blend they’ve created yet, and it’ll all be topped off by using the vintage logo Rolling Stone used in 1973 on the bottle.