108 proof; 8 years old
$99.99/750ml suggested retail price
The story: The annual Parker’s Heritage Collection honors Heaven Hill Master Distiller Emeritus Parker Beam. This year’s, the ninth edition, is a Kentucky straight malt whiskey. The barrels used were part of an experimental run of whiskey with a mash bill that is 65% malted barley and 35% corn that was put up on the fifth and seventh floors of Rickhouse Y in 2006 by co-master distiller Craig Beam, Parker’s son. After eight years, the whiskey was bottled at 108 proof and non-chill filtered. Only 141 barrels were allocated for this year’s release, which will hit retail shelves between now and October. The folks at Heaven Hill kindly sent me a sample for this review.
The aroma: Nutty, with lots of wood, but not tannic, more like a sawmill. Lots of alcohol.
The taste: Sweet up front, with buttery notes like maple syrup mid-palate, becoming grassy and smoky toward the end, with a pleasant, lingering finish.
The verdict: When I read that this year’s Parker’s Heritage selection was a malt whiskey, I had a one word reaction: “Ick.” As much as I love bourbon, that’s how much I dislike Scotch, and I was braced for a disgustingly earthy flavor profile. But while this malt whiskey does have a smoky quality, it’s more sweet than peat. It’s not my favorite Heritage Collection spirit, but it’s an interesting experiment. I’d love to hear what Scotch fans think of it.
Also: After Parker Beam was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis several years ago, part of the proceeds from the Collection have gone toward ALS research and treatment. In 2013 and 2014, nearly $500,000 was raised. Again this year, $5 from the sale of every bottle will be donated to the cause.