Heaven Hill

Review: 2018 Parker’s Heritage Collection

2018-Parkers-Heritage-Collection

Photo courtesy of Heaven Hill

I came into the Parker’s Heritage Collection a little late with 2014’s 10-year-old single barrel bourbon.  That release was chosen from a particular warehouse favored by then Heaven Hill Master Distiller Parker Beam, who is sadly no longer with us.  I picked up the bottle of what I described as a “flawless bourbon” on my honeymoon.  It holds a special place on my shelf… what’s left of it anyway.

Heaven Hill Distillery uses this collection to release one-off experiments.  Past bottlings included a blend of mash bills, a malt whiskey, and a cognac-finished bourbon.

The 2018 release, or 12th edition for those counting, is a 7- to 8-year-old bourbon finished in curaçao barrels for four months. The French orange liqueur barrels were provided by Alain Royer, who also provided the cognac barrels for the aforementioned release.  This barrel finished whiskey is bottled at 55% ABV, or 110 proof.  The suggested retail price is $89.99.

Barrel finishes can complement notes found in a whiskey, but sometimes they overpower the base spirit.  The key is to not approach it like a standard whiskey.  Barrel finishes are the whiskey equivalent of fusion in cuisine.  They take two things that may not normally go together with a “sum is greater than the parts” mindset.  Though not always successful, sometimes a release can soar.

This falls in the latter group.

The aromatic nose features heavy notes of orange and vanilla – orange dreamsicle, anyone?  A little airtime reveals a bit of oak and a touch of spice.  The high ABV offers a full mouthfeel.  The flavors, surprisingly, aren’t too sweet.  The somewhat strong orange notes take the form of freshly squeezed fruit juice AND slightly charred orange peel.  Layers of classic bourbon flavors – light caramel, creamy vanilla, and fresh oak – provide an undercurrent that helps counterbalance the orange quality here.  Like on the nose, some cloves and allspice add a little seasoning.  The finish is long, with a lingering orange and basil note.

Take this release for what it is – a fun, tasty experiment from a trusted American distillery.  I love what this bourbon brings to the table, but I’ll admit it’s not for everyone. There are some bourbon fans who always want to stick to traditional releases, and 2018 Parker’s Heritage is nowhere near traditional.  To you I say expand your whiskey horizons.  To everyone else, I think you’ll like what’s in the bottle.  8.5/10

Thanks to Heaven Hill for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Review: Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond 9-Year-Old Bourbon (Fall 2018)

img_0711This fall, Heaven Hill’s Old Fitzgerald Bottled-In-Bond decanter series sees its second release as a 9-year-old bourbon. The bottle is inspired by an original 1950s Old Fitz decanter. It’s a beautiful bottle.

The initial 11-year-old release received mixed, but generally positive, reactions. I haven’t tasted it, so I can’t chime in just yet.  However, Heaven Hill whiskies have never disappointed me and I do have a healthy sample of the new 9-year-old release in front of me, so…

The nose here is classic wheater, with hints of sweet kettle corn, spice, orange peel, dark chocolate, and a touch of toasted oak.  On the palate, the whiskey is beautifully balanced and carries its 9-year age statement with class.  On entry, a velvety wave of sweet caramel corn washes over the tongue, developing notes of creamy vanilla and soft cinnamon and nutmeg.  A bit of oak and dark roast coffee arrives late and right before the finish.  The hearty 100 proof almost guarantees a warm finish, and this iteration of Old Fitz doesn’t disappoint.  The medium-long finish leaves behind notes of caramelized orange peel and oak.

Heaven Hill has crafted a very solid release in this 9-year-old bonded Old Fitzgerald.  Though not the most complex bourbon I’ve tasted recently, this whiskey does hit all the right wheated bourbon notes to make for a throughly enjoyable pour.  For the suggested price of $89.99, I’d gladly reach for a bottle.  8.5/10

Thanks to Heaven Hill for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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Review: Heaven Hill 27-Year-Old Bourbon

This fall, Heaven Hill is releasing a 27-year-old barrel proof bourbon. This would be the oldest bourbon I’ve tasted. That title was previously held by Orphan Barrel’s 26-year-old Old Blowhard.

The one-time release was distilled in 1989 and 1990 at the Old Heaven Hills Springs Distillery. For this bottling, 41 barrels were batched together. Thirty-six of those barrels came from the first and second floors. Maturation on lower floors of a warehouse is generally slower than barrels aging on the top floors. Temperature swings aren’t as varied on the lower floors.

The 41 barrels yielded less than 3,000 bottles. The angels took more than their fair share. After 27 years, those barrels didn’t have much whiskey in them. The proof after batching came to 94.7, or 47.35% abv.

After a few minutes of airtime, the nose is quite fragrant with hints of dark toffee, cloves,  dried fruit, and leather.  There’s a kind of dusty quality that develops, but it’s ever so slight.  On the palate, there’s an initial burst of dark chocolate-covered cherries.  Hints of slightly burned caramel, vanilla bean, and dried fruit soon develop, giving way to old oak, leather and spice – notably cloves and nutmeg.  I love the development of flavors on the palate.  The long finish is dry, with lingering notes of dried fruit and oak spice.

I’m quite surprised this bourbon isn’t over-oaked.  At 27 years old, there’s obviously a soft bed of old oak on which all other flavors play on, but the overall flavor profile is not dominated by oak. The folks at Heaven Hill certainly know how to craft an ultra-aged whiskey.   At an SRP of $399 a bottle, Heaven Hill 27-year-old bourbon isn’t a whiskey to shoot or rush through.  This old bourbon is elegant and requires your attention as you nose and taste it.  I hope to have the chance to buy a bottle when it’s released.  This is a must-have for fans of older whiskey.  9/10

Thanks to Heaven Hill for the sample.  As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

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