An Excellent Bourbon that has an intriguing backstory and proves that innovation can result in bringing back long lost taste profiles, and for some of us, memories…
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, 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 (please use our search function to look all those up please).
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 and the Parker Heritage 15 Edition Heavy Char Wheat Whiskey from Fall of 2021.
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 one is rather unique compared to others in terms of the blending of both the two ages and the double wood treatment in one of the component bourbons. One does not usually see a bourbon with that complicated a blending profile. We are seeing an increasing number of double wood bourbons these days (the Scotch industry has been doing it for decades, but the larger bourbon concerns have, for the most part, shied from such things for a variety of reasons. The mashbill is a fairly typical Heaven Hill mashbill – a more or less straightforward bourbon recipe ( 78% corn, 12% malted barley, and 10% rye for this release).
The stats on the blending stock are as follows;
Fifty barrels of the 13-year-old bourbon and 65 barrels of the 15-year-old bourbon so 115 barrels total for this bottling, Especially when one considers the Angels’ share were talking about maybe 60-70% full barrels so the supply is rather limited!
The whiskey is considered to be 13 years old even though it is a blend of 13 and 15-year-old bourbons, as, by law, the youngest bourbon used in a mix determines the age statement. For the whiskey geeks out there here is another tidbit- the blend is about 67% of the 13-year-old bourbon and 33% of the 15-year-old in the mix.
I’ll try to articulate the rather unique pedigree of this bourbon below;
The 13-Year-old bourbon used in this blend was produced in December 0f 2008 and the barrels selected were s aged on the 5th-7th floor of Rickhouse Q. These barrels were then dumped ( and blended together, we assume), and the contents were barreled in new oak barrels with char level 3 toating for four weeks. This was done to give the whiskey a quick infusion of more oak influence. The resulting double barrel ( of double finished – as you will – bourbon was then blended with a 15-year-old bourbon produced in January of 2007 and aged on floors 2nd and 5th from Rickhouse II.
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)
Appearance: Clear amber gold, just starting to develop a slight redshift. On Swirling, it leaves a medium coating on the glass with an edge line that only, oh so slowly, develops some tears.
First Impression: Nicely malty with a heavy caramel presence, malty caramel and grain malt, spicy-sweet loaf of grain, fruit, barrel char, vanilla, and a touch of mint, with a rich, round feel of nicely dense malt, grain, and oak char bouquet.
Taste: Corn and grain sweetness with rye sweet/sour rollercoaster of grainy and barley malt grain caramel notes gives way to dryness with barrel char and hints of mint and vanilla, with the lingering barley sweetness pushed to the background accompanied by grain and charcoal in the finish with notes of earthy loam, mint, and touches of heather. Damn delicious !
Reminiscent of bourbon from years ago with a heavy, weighted mouth feel and complexity/depth that the newer selections are sadly lacking.
Drinks: Makes a nice Old Fashioned if a bit drier than most. Manhattan? A fairly dry and smoky one
Bottle: Bottle is similar to the earlier releases, but the labeling s changes to reflect the new release. Apparently, this one sports a darker-colored label, but beyond that, we can’t comment as we did not receive a production bottle.
Cigars: A shade wrapper, Ashton, or maybe a Davidoff, probably a panatela, and nothing larger than a corona as you do not wish to bury the nuance..
Final Thoughts: An excellent and interesting bourbon that is worth both the money and the hunt. and well worth trying. While I am sadly certain it will be hunted to extinction in short order, it is one of the few I would chase this year. Yes, it is expensive, but given the price vs. quality ratio of many brands these days at retail ( my comments on the secondary market prices stretch my vocabulary of obscenity and scorn – even across languages) it is not that outrageous when considered against other whiskies ( especially Scotch!) Also, given the high proof (132.2), you are getting a lot of whiskey in a standard bottle, relatively speaking ( almost equal to 1 1/2-1 2/3 bottles of standard proof it takes a bit of the sting out of the $175 price tag.
Fast loading and easy to navigate. This is one of the most comprehensive bourbon (or any other spirit for that matter) websites I have come across – and that is saying a lot! Extensive information and good pictures of how bourbon is made, the distillery, the bourbon heritage with reviews and ratings by different people and organizations of the different vintage years. Also the most extensive store of bourbon-related gear and accessories in the industry.