Review #14 Black Maple Hills Bourbon (Purple Label)

Updated: Feb 18, 2021

Distillery: Sourced

Proof: 95

Age: NAS (rumored 4-5 years)

Mashbill: Undisclosed


BACKGROUND: The background around this new Black Maple Hills is very murky and unclear. The Black Maple Hills brand was first brought to market in 2000 by CVI brands who are a non-distiller spirit importer and bottler in Sand Carlos, CA. Black Maple Hills was their most popular product by far. CVI sourced the original Black Maple Hills from KY and was rummored to be a wheated bourbon from Stitzel-Weller and bottled by Julian Van Winkle III. Although, as time went on it was said that bottled was done by Kentucky Bourbon Distillers and sourced from Heaven Hill. As the bourbon boom was starting, the rumors of Van Winkle touch on the original Black Maple Hills drove prices through the roof on secondary markets. The original age statements would range from 11 to 22 years. As it became more difficult and expensive to source the aged whiskey to the quality standard they wanted, CVI stopped the Black Maple Hills brand. As CVI was shutting down A small family distillery in Joseph, OR called Stein Distillery was launched in 2009. In 2014 CVI re-introduced the Black Maple Hills brand to market in a short bottle with purple labeling instead of the original red label. Although it has never been confirmed, we tried Stein Distillery's bourbon and not only is it in the same bottle but it tastes exactly the same. Therefore there is a strong belief amongst the bourbon world that Stein Distillery is the new source for Black Maple Hills.

NOSE: A lighter nose that is dominated by freshly charred oak, vanilla, and hay. It is quite light with some ethanol sting every-time I took a sniff. (20/25)

PALATE: Black Maple Hills has a very light mouthfeel with flavors that are reminiscent of fresh cut hay. This is definitely a younger bourbon as the flavors are not well developed. Up front on the palate is some vanilla, grass, and some oak. As the sip sat on my tongue I pulled out some watery notes as well as some light honey. (26/40)

FINISH: The finish is very light and and watery. I struggled to find any finish notes as it quickly disappears. The only notes I was able to pull was vanilla and oak but it is very light. (18/25)

VALUE: The new Black Maple Hills bourbons carry an SRP of $90 but is commonly sold well north of $100. This simple just is not worth it. Maybe if I revisit it it'll get better but for right now I think this drinks like a $35 whiskey. (5/10)

Overall: 69/100

FINAL THOUGHTS: The new release of Black Maple Hills (Purple Label) was highly disappointing. I think that CVI tried their best to capture the elusiveness of their original Black Maple Hills without sourcing older aged bourbon from Kentucky. This whiskey just doesn't cut it for the price it demands.

Similar & Slightly Better Whiskey: Four Roses Small Batch

Similar & Equal Whiskey: New Riff Small Batch

Similar & Slightly Worse Whiskey: Hudson Baby Bourbon


Tell us what you think and give us some feedback!


Scoring Legend:

96-100: The perfect dram, juice of the gods

90-95: Bear perfect, truly incredible whiskey

85-89: Amazing whiskey, will always try to keep a backup bottle of this

80-84: Very good, some minor flaws here or there

75-79: Good, quite enjoyable to drink, Will try and keep a bottle on the shelf

70-74: Solid, wouldn’t go out of my way to get this

60-69: Decent, would offer this up to non whiskey drinkers

50-59: Not my cup of tea


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