If you don't already know about Parker's Heritage Collection, it's likely attributable mostly to its rarity. Very few bottles get released annually as we crest Heaven Hill's 16th year of honoring their late master distiller Parker Beam. Parker was taken from the Heaven Hill team after 56 years of service, ultimately succumbing to a 7 year battle with ALS. As such, in tribute of the incredible contributions he made to the distillery, a portion of every Parker's Heritage Collection bottle sold now goes to ALS research and patient care. For a little more backstory on this legacy, Heaven Hill's website states:
Each year as part of the Parker's Heritage Collection, we select a special whiskey to be released in the name of our late Master Distiller Parker Beam. The barrels selected for this series include Bourbon, Rye, and Wheat Whiskeys, among others, and are some of the finest and most diverse American Whiskeys ever produced. They are a fitting tribute to the expertise of Parker Beam.
In addition, the back of the bottle lists some extra information about this specific release, stating:
The 16th edition of the Parker’s Heritage Collection consists of 67% 13-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey that has been double barreled and then blended post aging with 33% 15-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. The 13-year-old Bourbon was aged on floors 5 - 7 of Rickhouse Q and was then re-barreled in new American white oak barrels with a level 3 char for 4 weeks. Then, it was blended with 15-year-old Bourbon aged on floors 2 and 5 of Rickhouse II. The double barreling of the 13-year-old Bourbon helped to bring out even more oak and spice notes from the barrel, while later blending it with older Bourbon helped to create a unique, bold and balanced flavor profile. At bottling, the liquid was uncut and non-chill filtered to preserve the complex flavors of this truly unique Bourbon.
With the previous releases of the Heavy Char 10 year bourbon and the wheat whiskey under my belt, I'm excited for what I'm expecting will be another rollercoaster ride of flavors. So before we lose you, patient reader, let's get into the review.
Company on Label: Heaven Hill
Whiskey Type: Bourbon
Mash Bill Percentages: 78% Corn, 10% Rye, 12% Barley
Age: 13 years (though it lists a breakdown of 67% 13 year and 33% 15 year bourbons in the blend)
Further identification: The PHC 16th edition released in the Fall of 2022
Nose: Bountiful barrel funk emanates powerfully from the glass upon lifting it to my nose. Caramel, molasses, worn leather and aromas of a well-stocked woodshed rush into the airways at full steam. Soft hints of peanut brittle can be found behind subtle vanilla cupcake. Every evolution of oak can be perceived here from leaf to bark to grain to earth. The extra oak from the secondary barrel isn't too overbearing (though definitely present) given the average age is something around 13.66 years. Sugar cookie and buttery fried breading can be found later in the resting glass. Thus far solid, but unexceptional to my nose before jumping into a sip. Let's do that now!
Returning to the nose I find the barrel funk has returned but with a lot of great company. Confectioners sugar, vanilla, browned toasted marshmallow and exceptionally sweet cherry skins. This has all the hallmarks of well-aged bourbon as leather seeps into my nostrils on a long inhale. A softness creeps into the glass as the remaining volume draws low; thick butterscotch sauce trails off before materializing too clearly. The empty glass smells of honeysuckle, smoke, leather, old linens, and a hint of sweet licorice.
Palate: This certainly doesn't try to hide the fact it is sitting up at 132.2 proof. Cask strength lovers are in for a rich wave of dark fruit and spice like a well made mulled wine on first sip. Raspberry, plum, clove and allspice meet in a pretty lovely concoction. The mouthfeel is thick and jammy which leaves a sticky, long, tart-sweet linger sitting heavy on the tongue. Another sip is again fruit forward with cherry skins, tannic red grape and fig undulating softly. A sharper spice swings in after the fruit and tingles the tongue with a shimmer of tarragon, cardamom and nutmeg. A touch of salted cashew gives an interesting complexity that undulates between a thick, oily mouthfeel and the shock of a sprinkle of salinity. There are great meanderings between bakery sweets and the fruit concoctions all throughout this glass. A larger sip and swish certainly turns up the heat to a point where this would likely not be approachable to all, but it should be well in hand for an experienced whiskey drinker. Triangulating between the three pillars of this pour I taste through the backbone of this pour: solid, funky oak, typical Heaven Hill vanilla and the mulled wine fruit notes all culminate in a very tasty dram. My last sip has the big wave of raspberry again, nuanced slightly with blackberry and fig. It's big, bold and delicious. The linger is dark and moody with plum pudding, sticky honey and slightly savory baking spices.
As always, honesty is the best policy. While this is an exceptionally delicious whiskey - it doesn't have the wow factor to earn my top mark. I am still incredibly glad that I won the rights to purchase this one at this years Rapid Liquor whiskey raffle & will be savoring (and sharing) every bit of this bottle. Have you tried this one? Let me know what you think of it in the comments.