Review: Parker's Heritage Collection Original Small Batch Aged 13 Years Kentucky StraIght Wheat Whiskey / by Jason Hambrey

13 Years; Charred Virgin Oak
51% Wheat, 39% Corn, 10% Malted Barley
Distiller Heaven Hill (Bardstown, Kentucky)

Parker's Heritage Collection represents a yearly limited release from Kentucky's second biggest distiller, Heaven Hill, representing some of the most sought after and best American whiskies (including one of my favorite bourbons, Promise of Hope). The 2014 release (the 8th annual release) was perhaps the best wheat whiskey ever produced - a 13 year old, cask strength version of the original batch of (the typically 7 year old) Bernheim Straight Wheat, the only successful big brand of straight wheat whiskey in the world. the original batch was distilled in 2000. This whisky was matured on the top floors of rickhouse Y at Heaven Hill.

Review (2016)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2014

The nose – obviously – showcases much of what the standard bernheim does – only bigger and rounder. More oak too, and more wonderful Heaven Hill oakiness – I don’t know what specifically it is about the distillery but all their whiskey is slightly distinctive in the oaky notes which are brought forward. It smells much like the angel’s share in the warehouses there. Elegant - oak, apricot, menthol, incense, apple, and plump corn – quite remarkable on the nose, really, and nicely creamy. At cask strength, we also have lots of coconut, fruity candy notes – though it doesn’t translate to the flavor profile, I keep picturing Dave Broom in my head saying “rich and round”…the tropical fruity, oaky, earthy, and grain notes all are terrifically balanced – another classic from Heaven Hill.

On the palate, we have more oakiness and complexity than the standard bernheim – a clear notch above all the way through, particularly with some refined nutty notes. A bit heavier – but the complexity is immensely greater than Bernheim. It makes me wonder…they slate Bernheim these days at 7 years – why not push that to 12? It would make a huge difference. But, I suppose, distilleries aren’t adding years to whiskies but rather taking them away…back to the whiskey – the palate brings forth also lots of dried fruit, light sweetness, light baking bread, and some spice – cinnamon, nutmeg, and dry spice. The finish is full and oaky. It carries itself remarkably well at cask strength, balancing the oak with sweetness, caramel, tropical fruity – and finishing so gently with grain and spice in a finish that develops to show clear cut grain notes. The mouthfeel is incredible. However, I do think this one shines with just a touch of water.

Elegant, compex, and delicious – though they do a bit better with more corn oriented whiskies. Wheat is fascinating, but can be a bit simple at times.

Highly Recommended (48% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Low (based on $225)