Whisky Advocate

Inside scoop: Parker’s Heritage Collection

October 29th, 2007

This fall, Heaven Hill released it’s first ever cask-strength whiskey for the U.S. market, which it calls the Parker’s Heritage Collection. The whiskey is named for Master Distiller Parker Beam, who selected the bourbon for the bottlings. This is the first in what will be an ongoing series of whiskeys released under the Parker’s Heritage Collection title. I rated the whiskey very highly in the current issue of Malt Advocate magazine, scoring it a 95/100. Of course, you may already know all of this.

What you might not know is that there were actually three different “dumps” or batch bottlings of this first edition, cask-strength bourbon. The only way to tell the difference is by the alcohol level identified on the label. Each dump had a different alcohol level.

The bottling I reviewed for the current issue of Malt Advocate was 122.6 proof. There were also bottlings at 127.4 proof and 129.6 proof. All this begs the question: does each bottling taste differently? You bet!

The bourbon at 122.6 proof, which I reviewed and rated highly, I described as “well-balanced,” and “a nicely matured bourbon of character and pedigree.”

The bourbon at 127.4 proof is in the same caliber of quality. It’s thicker, beefier and more decadent than the 122.6 proof bottling, but not as crisp. Another fine effort!

However, the third bottling, and the one with the highest alcohol level (129.6 proof) falls a little short. It misses on the balance. It’s  a bit hot on the palate (even with a liberal addition of water), and I feel the oak plays too much of a role. A leathery finish lingers too long. It’s not a bad whiskey, but not in the league of the other two.

So, what should you take from all of this? If you are a bourbon drinker, by all means go out and buy a bottle of the first edition of Parker’s Heritage Collection (which will run you about $80). But, before you do, check the label. Try to buy one at 122.6 proof or 127.4 proof.

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