Notable Iron Range mutant making whiskey now

PHOTO: John Shearer, promotional photo for Heaven’s Door whiskey

In so many ways, Bob Dylan is a Northern Minnesota mutant. And I say that with respect, in the evolutionary sense.

Born in Duluth, raised on the Mesabi Iron Range, Dylan shot out of this place like a rocket almost 60 years ago. You know the rest.

Dylan might never be like the kids he grew up with or some locals who still fail to understand his appeal to millions around the world. Nevertheless, Dylan keeps showing signs that while he might be different than the rest, he is very much from here.

For instance, having a little money and free time, Dylan now fiddles around in his metal shop and, starting in May, sells his own brand of whiskey. If the old boys from Hibbing never quite understood Dylan’s songs, they’ve surely dreamed of doing that.

Bob Dylan’s “Heaven’s Door” whiskey bears images of his iron gates, artwork that has appeared in galleries around the world. (Heaven’s Door)

Dubbed Heaven’s Door, Dylan has produced a set of three whiskeys. They include a Kentucky bourbon, a double-barreled whiskey, and a straight rye whiskey. These varieties retail for $50-70 a bottle and can be pre-ordered at the website.

Ben Sisario of the New York Times wrote about the new line of Dylan whiskeys. Dylan isn’t just lending his name to the brand, but is a full partner in the company. He had explored starting a line of “bootleg whiskey” on his own before pairing up with an experienced marketer to produce Heaven’s Door.

The New York Times whiskey reviewer Clay Risen sampled the Dylan-backed spirits. While I have past experience with whiskey, I can’t quite make out whether these are good reviews or bad. Writing like this comes from a different world, one I’ll never understand.

For instance, Risen says that the double-barrel whiskey “smells of cake batter, fresh berries and children’s cough syrup; as it develops in the glass, its nose turns darker and woodier, with a hint of sweet fortified wine lurking in the background. It tastes surprisingly astringent and medicinal, given the nose, with a thin mouthfeel and notes of tobacco, allspice and wood smoke, resolving in ground pepper.”

Is that good? Anyway, Dylan told the times he knows a lot about whiskey because he’s traveled the world as a musician. This checks out. The Times seems to think it’s legit whiskey.

That’s right. In 1979, Bob Dylan became a Christian. But it wasn’t until now that he became spiritual.


  1. Gerry Mantel says

    Bob McNamara would have loved it ….

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