Review: Parker's Heritage Collection Single Barrel Aged 11 Years / by Jason Hambrey

Parker's Heritage Collection 11 1.jpg
11 Years; Virgin Charred Oak
~78% Corn, 10% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
Distiller Heaven Hill (Bardstown, Kentucky)

It’s been some years since I’ve had one of these. Generally, they are overpriced for what you get these days – but, notably, they continue to donate toward the fight against ALS.

This is an 11 year old single barrel selected from the late Parker Beam’s favourite locations in the Heaven Hill warehouses in Deatsville, KY.

Review (2020)

  • Batch: Barrel 4716504

  • Bottling Code: H2757 1229

  • Bottling Date: 2019

I’m always up for a nice single barrel of bourbon, and I quite like Heaven Hill juice at around this age…so I have high hopes here. The nose is potent but quite elegant, with deep oak, loaded with orange peel, dried apricot, red pepper jelly, white pepper, clove, vanilla, almond, icing sugar, caramel, bittersweet chocolate, and some rye spice. The palate is rich, loaded with oaky spices, slightly tannic wood, caramel, and more of that dried fruit – which builds into the finish. Lots of rye influence on the palate, a bit of tobacco, and a nice savouriness. And the rich confectionary, toffee-like characteristic holds the whole whisky together quite well. The elegance is retained, here. The finish has oak, lots more dried fruit, and some prune.

After my review, I’ve read a number of others which didn’t seem to get past the cask strength to see what is beneath in this one. At some point in your enjoyment experience of this, you need to add a bit of water to open it up. I still prefer the cask strength, but if you need a bit more resolution, water will do that for you. If you have a batch of Elijah Craig cask strength, taste them side by side at cask strength, then around 50%, then at around 25% - if you’ll entertain me. A fun exercise. Or, taste this beside an Elijah craig at 47% and 25%.

This reminds me quite a bit of the Promise of Hope bourbon from a number of years ago, one of my all time favourite bourbons. This has a similar profile and elegance but doesn’t quite have the complexity or depth.

I can’t help but compare to a recent Elijah Craig 12 Year Old Barrel Proof in my cabinet – slightly older, at 12 years, and bottled at 61.1% instead of the 61% here. This bottle of parker’s is darker in the glass, slightly. Parker’s is deeper in the oak character but Elijah Craig is more of a bomb with tannins, woody spices, slight bitterness, and pencil-shavings (at least with this batch comparison, as Elijah Craig barrel proof has some variation – but Elijah Craig is always a bit of an oak bomb). Elijah Craig is more centred on fresh stone fruit, rather than the rich dried fruit here. They are very different, and very distinct. Water, particularly, reveals the differences – this Parker’s bourbon is definitely a step above.

Very Highly Recommended (18% of all whiskies I’ve reviewed to date get this recommendation or higher).

Value: Very low, based on $400 (also very low at half the price). This would enter the “high” value category if it were about $110, even though it is a fantastic bourbon.