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Parker's Heritage Collection 11 Year Wheat Whiskey Review: How a Special Mash Bill Aged in Heavy Char Casks Resulted in an Impossibly Unique 122 Proof Whiskey

Parker's Heritage Collection 15th Edition: The 2021 release of the Heavy Char Wheat Whiskey

"Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have."
-Margaret Mead

Parker's Heritage Collection 15th Edition: The 2021 release of the Heavy Char Wheat Whiskey
A bottle I've been enjoying for some time

I've always enjoyed the fact that Parker's Heritage Collection centers on some kind of experimentation. Whether it be a double barreled blend, a heavy char barrel, a unique mash bill, wild finishes like orange curacao, or ultra-aged experiments, the team behind the yearly Parker's release continues to honor the late Master Distiller Emeritus Parker Beam by innovating for all the right reasons.

This bottle was first released in September of 2021. I have photographic evidence that my first experience with it was in December of that same year, a sip I owe thanks to a dear friend who won the rights to purchase a bottle in a local raffle. This friend and I have since sipped through two entire bottles of this through the years, so you're getting an incredibly well-triangulated experience in my write-up.

I've written at length about Parker's battle with ALS when I covered the 2023 release of the 10 year rye, perhaps the least innovative release to date. In that same review, I also looked at the comparisons to the 13th edition which did feature that heavy char specialty barrel maturation. If you're wondering what we mean by heavy char, here is a helpful infographic from Heaven Hill:

Char 3 infographic
Traditional barrel char level 3
Char 5 infographic
Heavy char - level 5 is rarely used and shows a deep alligator skin texture

As for the mash bill, the defining characteristic that makes this a wheat whiskey as opposed to a bourbon is that we've got a majority grain that is not corn! As there is only 37% corn that was utilized in this mashing process, they can't call it a bourbon, which demands a minimum of 51% corn content to use that name. 51% wheat being utilized should give this a distinctly different character from what one would normally expect out of a Kentucky bourbon.

Notably missing in the mash bill is the presence of rye, another traditional flavoring grain of bourbon. Bucking tradition in the name of producing a nuanced, special release whiskey is exactly why Parker's Heritage Collection stands out each year. I think I speak for most whiskey enthusiasts in saying, "If you're going to put out a special release, make something about it special!" Where will the 15th edition fit in to the wide world of whiskey? Let's dive in and find out!


Company on Label: Heaven Hill

Whiskey Type: Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey

Mash Bill Percentages: 51% wheat, 37% corn, 12% malted barley

Proof: 122°

Age: 11 years

Further identification: This is the 15th edition of Parker's Heritage Collection that released in September of 2021 at an MSRP of $140


Nose: Fresh citrus can be found on the newly uncorked bottle. Lifting the glass to the nose instantly turns one inquisitive, given its incredible uniqueness. A curious nose finds molasses and wet olive at the edge of the glass, a great balance between sweet and savory. I find bright woodshop aromas like teak and mahogany being worked at a distance. Beneath that is supple red fruit and a distinct creaminess like a well-prepared Rote Grütze. At times, I find some other Bardstown, Kentucky character. Soft brown sugar and sweet wheat dance in the nose. Deep inhales offer hints of leather and black pepper behind the more distinct red berries of the aforementioned German dessert. Raspberry, cherry, strawberry, and red currants are the dominant berries.

Coming back from a sip amplifies the woodshop aromas and layers of bright, proofy rum cake on top. Late in the glass, a flourishing florality takes over like a white meadowsweet bush in spring bloom. It remains bright and lively all throughout, ultimately making the observer sneeze in proofy delight. Candied, sugary strawberry, much like an airhead, sits in the well-rested glass. The empty glass smells of butter cookies and brown bag summer field trip lunches.

Palate: My first sip is both delicate and a powerhouse of flavor. Lemon tea, grenadine, raspberry tart, and elderflower tea lead the way. Another sip offers a creamy key lime pie profile. The linger is cool and sweet in the cheeks. There really is nothing else like this from the Heaven Hill portfolio... It’s weird in all the right ways. It leans dark, earthy, brooding, and savory-sweet. A long sip and swish is thoroughly enjoyable, but odd, sipping more like a raspberry mint julep. My last sip is consistent with the rest of the pour: enjoyable, utterly unique, but lacking the last bit of oomph to be exceptional. The finish is long, rolling, and smoldering with raspberry tea and light cinnamon.

TL;DR: An absolute oddity from Heaven Hill, but exactly what one expects from a PHC release


Rating: 4/5

While wheat isn't a brand new concept to the whiskey world or Heaven Hill in general, its use here is absolutely exquisite in creating a differentiated whiskey. While I don't traditionally enjoy the Larceny or Bernheim lines, this manages to dance in a space all on its own. Well fit for consumption, I've shared several bottles of this release with one of my dearest friends. I'm always thankful to be able to taste and evaluate whiskey this nuanced, especially over many tastings to really triangulate my thoughts. I hope you enjoyed this longer-term perspective on an old release! This review has been a long time coming. Cheers!

Parker's 11 Year Wheat Whiskey Review

Nick Anderson - Whiskey Writer and Owner of
With nearly a decade of sipping experience, Nick Anderson brings a well-calibrated palate to his profound passion for the whiskey industry. Beginning in Irish whiskey before expanding into bourbon, rye, and beyond, he has long been taking the ephemeral observation of unspoken enjoyment and translating it into meaningful words. He is the owner and primary long-winded whiskey writer for, and he hopes you find resonance in the patient conveyance of an honest whiskey review.



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