Another Heaven Hill bourbon after yesterday’s Elijah Craig 12. I noted in that review that there’s generally not as much of a jump in quality in bourbon than single malt Scotch from $20 (where the Elijah Craig 12 plays) to $80 and beyond. Well, that $80+ category is where the Parker’s Heritage releases play. Parker’s Heritage is Heaven Hill’s annual Fall release of boutique bourbon. In terms of prestige and name recognition it lags behind the Van Winkle and Buffalo Trace Antique Collection releases (which are all but impossible to find now) and the Four Roses Small Batch Limited Edition (which was also harder to spot than a Bengal tiger in the wild this year). I think this year’s release was a bunch of single barrels. If so, I’m not sure which one this sample came from.
Named for Heaven Hill’s master distiller emeritus, and bourbon legend, Parker Beam, who chooses the barrels that goes into it each year, this year’s Parker’s Heritage benefits the Parker Beam Promise of Hope Fund through the ALS Associaton (Mr. Beam was recently diagnosed with this nasty condition). As Heaven Hill donates $20 from each purchase to the fund you should really think of this as a $60-80 bottle plus a $20 donation to charity. With that said, I’m going to feel like a jackass if I have bad things to say about this whiskey. Let’s get to it.
Parker’s Heritage, “Promise of Hope” (48%; from a sample received in a swap)
Nose: Rich caramel and toffee and rum-soaked raisins. Not as spicy as the Elijah Craig 12. Some chocolate as well after a bit (70%’ish). I’m also getting some cold black tea which usually signals rye to me. After a while there’s some old leather and then a bit of fruit: ripe bananas? Water pushes the toffee above the caramel.
Palate: Very mellow on the palate, and quite sweet without being cloying. The caramel from the nose is here along with some mocha and a minty note (rye). The caramel gets deeper and darker with each sip (it’s like the yummy burnt sugary syrup clinging to the bottom of the caramel custard my mother used to make when we were kids). Hmmm water throws the balance off, emphasizing the rye.
Finish: Medium. Burnt toast and caramel and minty coolness.
Comments: I know the bourbon gurus weren’t super enthused by this but for the very little it’s worth I think this is really, really good. Lovely nose and the palate is great too and there’s nice development through the finish. Might have to see if there’s still some around when I get back from India. I’ll happily take this over Pappy or the BTAC considering I could have just walked into a store and bought one when it was released. And at $80-90 this kicks the ass of almost every distillery released single malt of similar price–only the Ardbeg Uigedail and Corryvreckan and the Laphroaig 10 CS need apply. Incredible balance. But drink it neat.
Rating: 90 points.
Thanks to Patrick for the sample!