Named after the late, legendary Master Distiller Parker Beam, Parker’s Heritage Collection is Heaven Hill’s most experimental line of whiskey. Every annual release is different — past bottles have been filled with 24-year-old Bottled-in-Bond whiskey, straight wheat whiskey, curaçao-finished bourbon and other oddities — and every release is quickly hunted into retail extinction. Unveiled today, this year’s Parker’s sticks to the status quo of not having any semblance of a status quo.
Parker’s Heritage 2019 release is a rye whiskey aged for eight years and nine months. It’s made with Heaven Hill’s standard rye mashbill — the same it uses to make its Rittenhouse and Pikesville ryes — and it’s retailing at its usual $150 price point. But the divergence doesn’t come from the whiskey — it comes from the barrel. Where most Heaven Hill products is aged in Level 3 char barrels, the new Parker’s rests in Level 5 char barrels.
Char levels are exactly what they sound like — the extent to which the interior of the barrel is burnt. A burnt-up interior both mellows the flavor of aging whiskey and promotes more whiskey-barrel interaction. A Level 5 char means it the barrels were allowed to burn a bit longer than normal (about 50 seconds longer than Level 3), resulting in a barrel that promotes spicey, smokey, vanilla flavors and mutes bitter, tannic flavor.
Parker’s Heritage is also one of the markers for the start of whiskey-hunting season, a three-month period every year when most sought-after limited release whiskey hits shelves. Drops like Buffalo Trace’s Antique Collection, Old Forester’s Birthday Bourbon, Four Roses’ Limited Edition and the annual allotment of Pappy all go down from September to November.
This year’s Parker’s Heritage hits shelves at $150 and 105 proof in September.
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