Parker’s Heritage Collection 2012:
Master Distiller’s Blend of Mashbills
132 proof; 11 years old
Background: Every year for the past five years, Heaven Hill has released a special limited edition whiskey that pays tribute to master distiller Parker Beam. This year’s sixth edition blends 11-year-old barrels of rye-based bourbon, used for brands like Elijah Craig, with 11-year-old barrels of the wheated bourbon used for the Old Fitzgerald line. Last year’s edition, a bourbon finished in cognac barrels, was one of my favorite whiskeys of the year, so I couldn’t wait to try the 2012 version at the Kentucky Bourbon Festival, where it was poured during the Gala. Here is what I thought.
Aroma: Sweet, hints of butterscotch and cinnamon – very lightly spiced
Taste: This bourbon enters the palate sweet, soft and buttery, and then the spice of the rye kicks in, adding a little white pepper, followed by some nutty notes – maybe walnut. The mouthfeel is velvety and smooth. The finish leaves a bit of a zing on the lips, a little heat and some nice oak.
Verdict: Lovely. Quite sippable on the rocks. Despite the fairly high proof, it never gets fiery or harsh – that’s the wheat’s influence on the rye. The rye, meanwhile, does its part to keep things snappy. This is a complex, interesting bourbon; like the players in a symphony orchestra, the rye and the wheat make themselves known, but also work together in harmony, creating something greater than themselves. I made a point to stop in at Toddy’s in Bardstown and pick up a bottle ($80 for the 750ml) the day after the Gala. Only about 7,500 bottles are being released, so don’t tarry.