Heaven Hill’s Parker’s Heritage Collection is a limited edition, annual release named in honor of the late Master Distiller Parker Beam, who was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2010. Each year Heaven Hill honors Parker’s legacy by producing unique expressions of some of their best whiskey with a portion of the proceeds going to the ALS Association for research and patient care.
If you’ve never had the opportunity to try a bottle of Parker’s Heritage, you’ve been missing out on some of the best bourbon Heaven Hill has to offer. Personally, I think the 7th Edition of this collection, a Promise of Hope, is some of the best bourbon you can buy (if you’re lucky enough to find it). I have not yet had the opportunity to sample all 12 bottles in this collection, but I have tasted quite a few of them and each expression has been unique and exceptionally flavorful.
The 12th Edition of this collection was released in September 2018 and is a blend of 7 and 8 year-old bourbon finished in orange curacao barrels. The finish alone should be enough to pique anyone’s interest, as orange curacao finishing is a rarity in the bourbon world. The bourbon itself was aged in the upper floors of Rickhouse Q and was then put into roughly 200 orange curacao barrels sourced from France. These barrels were then aged an additional 4 months on the 4th and 5th floors of Rickhouse I before the final blending was completed by Master Blender Alain Royer.
The mashbill for this bourbon consists of 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley. It is non-chill filtered and comes in at 110 proof (55% abv). The MSRP for this bottle is $89.99 but good luck finding a bottle for anywhere near that price. I was lucky enough to snag this bottle for $150.
Appearance – dark orange amber.
Nose – the nose on this bourbon is fascinating. There is obvious orange but it is pleasant and complex, delivering notes of both crisp, tart orange and soft, sweet orange peel. The orange also blends wonderfully with notes of toasted grain, oak char, and buttery caramel.
Palate – initially there is a bouquet of sweet orange and rye spice that is accentuated with some light alcohol burn. Again, the orange is soft but well-defined and it does not overpower the great bourbon flavors that develop. I found oak char, baking spice, buttery caramel, and some dried apricot.
Finish – the finish is long and warm, leaving a very pleasant mouthfeel. The orange notes begin to fade, letting peppery rye spice take over. There is also some soft caramel flavor, vanilla, and stone fruit that lingers with very mild oak undertones.
Overall – Normally I am not a huge fan of finished bourbon but this expression of Parker’s Heritage is wonderful. To begin, this is a great bourbon that is very flavorful and easy-drinking, despite the higher proof. The flavors are complex and well-defined, but the finished profile is cohesive. The orange curacao finishing was also executed with perfection, as the orange flavors are present throughout the pour without overpowering any of the great flavors this bourbon delivers. I have tasted this bottle several times now and I just keep finding more and more to love about this bottle.
Parker’s Heritage is not an easy bottle to find, and the price tag on any bottle you do find will most likely be severely inflated, but this is a wonderful bourbon that lives up to all of the hype. And of course it is great to know Heaven Hill is using this expression to support a great cause in honor of a bourbon legend.