An outstanding example of what a corn whiskey can be !
Damn, I just realized we have reviewed 72 Heaven Hill products at this last count. They certainly spanned a wide range of products, price points, and in some cases, quality. But they were and are usually good to excellent, and a fair number outstanding.
I have compiled a list of them HERE for your perusal. Unfortunately, many have been hunted to extinction already, but the list may prove useful in identifying at least the family of spirits you may want to try as new versions roll out.
Below is our standard intro to the Heaven Hill family with history and links followed with specific information for this release.
Notes: This whiskey is produced at the Heaven Hill Distillery in Bardstown and has a new visitors center, the Bourbon Heritage Center (which sadly was about to open the week after we visited, so we never got there).
Close to both Buffalo Trace and Woodford Reserve Distillery if you are touring. Home of numerous other whiskies and several line extensions/releases. Among these are the Trybox Series New Make and the TryBox Series New Make Rye, both of which were new straight off the still whiskies, which were fun for comparing against their aged brothers or sisters. The more or less standard releases of Elijah Craig 12-Year-Old, Elijah Craig 18-Year-Old Single Barrel, Elijah Craig 21-Year-Old Single Barrel, Larceny Bourbon, Henry McKenna, Old Fitzgerald, Fighting Cock, and Cabin Still, among others. There are also the multiple vintage releases of the Evan Williams line, such as the Evan Williams Vintage 2000, Evan Williams Vintage 2003, the multiple batches of the Larceny Barrel Proof Series, and the multiple Elijah Craig Barrel Proof Batch releases that we have reviewed.
The Parkers Heritage Collection had been a very wide range of Parkers’ personal favorites and barrel picks over the years, and releases in the series include Parkers Heritage 2009 (3rd Release) or Golden Anniversary, Parkers Heritage Number 7 Promise of Hope, Parkers Heritage Number 8, a Wheat Whiskey, the Parker Heritage 15 Edition Heavy Char Wheat Whiskey from Fall of 2021, and the Parker Heritage 16th Edition of 2022.
Parker was a good friend, and we were very sorry when he passed away in 2017. We learned a lot from him, and he was always a gentleman and had a dry wit, and always had great insights. After his passing, the series was continued in his honor, and now the Parkers Heritage Number 16 is the latest release and continues the tradition of supporting ALS or Lou Gehrig’s.
On the golden (50th) year of his employment at Heaven Hill, Parker Beam, the Master Distiller, came up with the idea of a personal blend to commemorate the event. Every year since then, the whiskey community has been treated to a yearly release of something special to commemorate another anniversary with a unique whiskey. Since Parkers’ passing, it has fallen to the new master distillers and blenders to find a unique and limited release to commemorate Parker and carry on both his whiskey and charitable traditions. As a side note, Heaven Hill has donated more than 1 million dollars since 2013 from the Parker Heritage Collection. This latest release is titled a Heaven Hill Heritage Collection Release. Heaven Hill seems to be deemphasizing Parkers’ name in these lately, so please note the change.
This one is somewhat unique compared to others in a couple of points. Yes , Heaven Hill has released a few corn whiskies before, and yes, they have done some interesting grain whiskeys of various proportions, but this is the first corn whiskey at this age they have ever released.
Geeky Details: Mashbill 80% Corn,, 12% Malted Barley, and 8% rye and bottled at 115 proof (57.5 %) at 20 Years from 110 barrels produced in 2002 and pulled from the 3rd floor of Rickhouse 1K.
This bottling is non-chill-filtered, which means more taste, but it may become a touch cloudy at cold temperatures. This is a natural occurrence and should be seen as a mark of quality rather than a defect. Chill filtering is usually done for cosmetic reasons and can filter out some natural components and flavor. It is also barreled at barrel proof ( in this case and to be specific, 132.2 proof or 66.1 5 alcohol by volume)
Frankly corn whiskey has suffered a lot due to a distinct lack of quality examples over the years as many people associated it with moonshined and mason jars. Many of the corn whiskies you came across were unnamed and/or heavily flavored and not premium spirits. The only real exception to this was Bush Pilot, a 20 year old Canadian corn whiskey that Robert Denton (who also brought us El Tesoro before selling it to Jim Beam) that was a truly outstanding whiskey, but was a victim of a overzealous Anheuser Busch trademark dispute as they felt it would somehow infringe on Busch beer.
Appearance: Clear Baltic amber gold in color, or the lightest first run of maple syrup for the season. On swirling leaves a medium oily coating on the glass with a series of small tears forming at regular intervals.
First Impression: heavy corn scent with a barley malt grain presence leavened with th touch of rye sweet-sour to give it a nice complexity.too many corn whiskies smell much less complex.
Taste: Dryish start then slightly oily and sweet with the barley starting to come in after the initial flavors entry. Citrus, dried apricots, persimmons and Mandarin orange peel.Traces of dried fruit, fruitcake, saddle leather , mint, allspice and whisper of barrel char. long finish with a pleasant dry grain with rye.
Drinks: Too good for mixing for the most part. Use a glencain glass and a touch of water. Would make a decadent Manhattan but seems a pity to cover it up with anything !
Bottle: Cannot comment as we did not receive a production bottle. Looks like on of their nicer production bottles though.
Other: An interesting and well done corn whiskey.Rarely do you see one aged this long.
Final Thoughts: An Excellent corn whiskey that could well change your mind or perceptions about corn whiskies.A thoughtful approach to the mash bill and some long aging really show what is possible with a high corn whiskey that is not bourbon.
A small subsection of their expansive and extensive website.This link is a direct link to the heritage collection series. Not terribly current as of yet, but they don’t have a lot to write about yet as this is a fairly new series. The Parkers Heritage site is a model of what you may see as they issue more of this series I hope !