Heaven Hill’s annual fall limited release of Parker’s Heritage Collection is one that I try to find every year. For 2020—the fourteenth edition—Parker’s Heritage Collection is a 10-year Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Before people say “meh” to the age, remember that the fantastic Promise of Hope (7th edition) was also 10 years, and the highly-acclaimed single barrels from the 11th edition were 11 years old, so don’t be fooled into wanting older bourbon all the time. Heaven Hill has a knack for finding honey barrels at any age.
The uniqueness this year comes from aging this bourbon in heavy char (Level 5) barrels, as opposed to the customary Level 3 for Heaven Hill. That’s 90 seconds of intense flame! Composed of 102 barrels aged on the sixth floor of rickhouse Y at the main campus in Bardstown for the past 10 years, this bourbon had plenty of time to interact with this extreme char.
Plus, as with previous years, Heaven Hill continues its support of ALS research in honor of Heaven Hill’s late Master Distiller, Parker Beam. Since 2013 with the Promise of Hope edition, Heaven Hill has raised more than one million dollars for ALS research and patient care by contributing a portion of the sale from each bottle. This remarkable effort by Heaven Hill should be much bigger news than it is.
Parker’s Heritage Collection Tasting Notes
|Bourbon:||Parker’s Heritage Collection 10 Year Old Heavy Char Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey|
|Distillery:||Heaven Hill, Bardstown, Kentucky (distilled in Louisville and aged in Bardstown)|
|Mashbill:||78% corn; 12% malted barley; 10% rye|
|ABV:||60% (120 proof)|
Dark golden brown, but not as dark as I had expected from the heavy char.
So many aromas—lots of leather, tobacco, and oak to go with caramel, black pepper, old barn, and a whiff of slight sweetness reminding me of a rich, malty imperial stout. While I could tell that it’s high proof, I would never have guessed 120 proof.
The high ABV was not evident here, either. While sharing many similarities with what I expect from Heaven Hill (like Elijah Craig 12 year Barrel Proof—and I tasted side-by-side with batches B517 and B520), the caramel in particular was more prominent, and there were flavors of maple syrup that I don’t usually find with Heaven Hill. With more rich cocoa flavors and robust oak and spice, this Parker’s Heritage Edition is extremely well-balanced and bold.
Medium in length led by an initial charge of rich caramel and fading with dryness of tobacco, leather, and toasty oak.
Heavy char doesn’t mean more smokiness. To the contrary, the greater time on fire means more hemicellulose breaking down into sugars, which explains the heavier caramel flavors. But enough science; this is a great bourbon that combines a robust punch with rich sweetness without the heat distraction that is all too common in high-proof bourbons. This is a beautiful tribute to Parker Beam and I highly recommend it.
Disclaimer: The brand managers kindly
sent me a sample for this review,
without any strings attached.