Parker’s Heritage Collection Batch 14 “10 Year Heavy Char Bourbon”
Following up last year’s Heavy Char Rye release with yet another Heavy Char whiskey has me curious. Naturally, these were planned to release sequentially, but with the amount of special char, toast, and second barrel finishes going around can Parker’s Heritage Collection Heavy Char Bourbon really stand out? Let’s take a look.
When a legendary Master Distiller like Parker Beam is commemorated yearly with a special release, it’s probably safe to assume the whiskey will taste great…and come with a hearty price tag. This 14th edition of Parker’s Heritage Collection comes at us with a retail price of $120. Let’s take a look into this release and have a pour.
Where Heaven Hill traditionally uses a Char 3 on their barrels, the 14th PHC release was aged in Char 5 barrels for 10 years. That is some serious barrel char, and a pretty significant age-statement as well.
The Parker’s Heritage Collection is a series of rare, limited-edition American Whiskeys offered as a tribute to sixth-generation Master Distiller Parker Beam for his 50+ years of distilling experience. Throughout those years, Parker was involved in developing Heaven Hill’s premium Small Batch and Single Barrel Bourbons, as well as much of the whiskey that now bears his name in the Parker’s Heritage Collection.
Heaven Hill Distillery
This release is another in Heaven Hill’s experiment in aging their whiskey in barrels charred well beyond their traditional level three. The thought process behind this is basically compounding the principle of charring oak barrels to release more natural wood sugars and other flavor compounds to interact with the aging whiskey.
So to recap: this is a ten year bourbon that has rested in heavily charred barrels, it was not chill-filtered, and is landing in the glass at 120 proof. Let’s have a taste!
Nose – Sweet oak rolls right into a touch of oaky rye spice that quickly gives way to butter toffee and dark caramel. A touch of ethanol rolls up as the 60% ABV stretches its legs.
Taste – Sweet red fruits and caramel start this off with a bang. Madagascar vanilla and oak spice work nicely together to remind me of a nice vanilla bean ice cream—not overly sweet—but big with flavor. I’m reminded of French toast with dark maple syrup and caramel on top.
Finish – Dark and robust on the palate, and hanging on with dark cocoa powder. The oak certainly hangs on for a long ride, but there’s great balance between sweet up front and spice to close things out.
Bourbon Finder Grade: B
If you’ve been wronged by a whiskey aged (or finished) in extra charred/toasted barrels in the past because it came across too sweet, or too oaky, this might be an avenue to explore. While certainly carrying a darker profile overall, I’m impressed with the balance of this expression.
While being stronger in woody notes it’s not a one-trick pony. There is a sweet side to this Parker’s Heritage Collection release, as well as a good background of spice that works with the dark layers of flavor. While not being incredibly exciting the finish brings this one together to make a nice pour.
Our grading system: As mentioned in our About Us page, we’re excited to share bourbon with our friends, family, and readers. There are enough critics, cynics, and curmudgeons in the whiskey world as it is, so our goal is to foster the bourbon community in a positive way by bringing fun and entertaining content whenever possible–as such–we decided that applying precise scores to whiskey was simply too serious for us (and didn’t accurately showcase variability in taste from day to day). We use a simple grade school system to apply a grade to the whiskeys we review because we feel it is indicative of the whiskey’s grade for us on that particular day. A grade of a “B” today may very well be a “B+” or even a “B-” on another day, so rather than focusing on a precise score today that may not stand the test of time, we are just sharing our overall grade of that pour for that one tasting. Pour a bit and enjoy, friends, these are the good old days of whiskey!