Parker's Heritage Collection

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

ABV
63.4%
Aging
13 Years; Charred Virgin Oak
Recipe
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)


Review: Parker's Heritage Collection Promise of Hope 10 Year Old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey by Jason Hambrey

ABV
48%
Aging
10 Years; Virgin Charred Oak
Recipe
~78% Corn, 10% Rye, 12% Malted Barley
Distiller Heaven Hill (Bardstown, Kentucky)

Parker’s Heritage Collection is a highly regarded bourbon which is released once a year from Heaven Hill distillery. Each year, it is produced differently, but consistently is of very high quality. in 2013, Parker Beam, who has been a master distiller at Heaven Hill for decades, was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), and consequently the release this year is raising money for ALS research with 20 dollars from each bottle going toward the research.

The whisky is a ten year old bourbon, a single barrel, bottled at 48% ABV. It was selected by Parker Beam and the entire release consists of 100 barrels, from Parker’s favourite warehouse spot.


Review (2013)

  • Batch: N/A

  • Bottling Code: N/A

  • Bottling Date: 2013

Nose: Caramel comes on at first, and the whisky seems to take a bit of time to open up as it is quite dense and rich. Dark chocolate, a bit of orange citrus, dried apricot, fresh oak, along with some spice, pineapple, vanilla custard, bread pudding, cream…the wood integration in the whole experience also reminds me a bit of the woody smells of an oak forest. It’s not a nose that aggressively dominates but rather is wonderfully subtle, and keeps me interested and interested…

Taste: A beautiful example of why people describe a whisky as silky. Rich, rye-tinged bourbon enters with caramel softly and then a candy-like rye takes it up a notch. There’s some orange and a tinge of sourness. Pineapple is present throughout.  It’s so smooth and thick that it almost reminds me of custard with the mouthfeel, vanilla, and caramel notes. So wonderfully light, complex, and thick at the same time. It’s just sweet enough, it’s just creamy enough, it’s just spicy enough. It’s not a bourbon where I find much movement, so to speak – the flavours more of less stay the same throughout as the bourbon. However, the quality of that which doesn’t seem to change requires all that extra time to admire while it makes its home in your mouth. Beautiful balance.

Finish: The palate dries out with some pepper and caramel, and a bit of pineapple. There’s some oak, orange, tree bark, honey, egg pastry, all the while remaining quite sweet. It makes your mouth water and long to be filled back up with the whisky….it’s oily, and slowly that breaks down and releases dried corn flavours.

What a sublime bourbon experience. For all the experimentation being done with whisky now, all the finishes, all the exploration with oak…it is really great to have a simple, excellent, single barrel bourbon which shows how well a straight bourbon can please. One of my favorite bourbons I have ever tasted.

Exceptional (3% of whiskies I’ve reviewed to date receive this, my highest recommendation).

Value: Average (based on $143)