Parker’s Heritage Collection Barrel Finished Bourbon

Opened: March 31, 2012
100 proof (50% ABV)
Price: $79.99
Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
10-years old, finished in used Cognac barrels
Producer-distiller: Heaven Hill
Tasting Date: May 29, 2012

Color in glencairn glass: Deeper caramel with a golden hue.

Nose: Dense and fudge-y with wood-infused sweet butter, gooey fruit fizz, milk chocolate and mocha banana smoothie. The nose develops more thick berry flavors with time spent in the glass.

Taste: What is subdued on entry develops into fruity milk chocolate wood on the palate, hitting the trademark Heaven Hill (HH) grassy note towards the middle and bitter, spicy fruit towards the finish. There is an element of chalky, dry chocolate left behind in the aftertaste. The fruit is expressed quite uniquely for a bourbon, seeming to swim in the heavy wood influence. A corny sweetness remains throughout but is tempered by a heavy shadow of dry cocoa, piney green-grass and berry-lime squiggles. On the finish, the alcohol shoots a perfectly balanced berry-kiwi-lime-infused caramel in a misty farewell.

This bourbon holds surprises around every corner. It can seem somewhat impenetrable at first taste, but with patience the whiskey reveals a broodingly charismatic side of bourbon. What the Cognac barrel finishing does for the HH profile is fascinating and deeply satisfying.

Value: $80/$80

Finishing whiskey is largely a scotch game. The only other barrel finished bourbon I tasted before this was Angel’s Envy, and I was not a fan; it was too sweet and I felt the bourbon was lost behind a winey scrim. I do not have much experience with Cognac, so I can’t say that I can pick out ‘Cognac notes’ in the bourbon, but I have learned a deep appreciation for the HH profile over the last few years, so I do feel like I recognize pieces in this bourbon that I can only ascribe to the influence of the Cognac barrel.

The bourbon is not lost here – on the contrary, it is complimented exquisitely. I have found that this release is most pleasing to me when I taste it after drinking another HH bourbon. It’s clear that the underlying whiskey is some of, if not the best 10-year old bourbon HH has to offer, so when I drink it after, say, some Evan Williams Single Barrel (EWSB), it fills in all the gaps that may have been missing for me in the previous pour. This bourbon is the result of a unique, one-time marriage, so if you have ever enjoyed a HH bourbon, grab one of these to drink now before they’re gone forever, and if you can, grab another one to come back to in a few year’s time.

~ by WhiskeyWonka on June 7, 2012.

2 Responses to “Parker’s Heritage Collection Barrel Finished Bourbon”

  1. Aaron – I’ve been a fan of the PHC over the years although I’ve not had all of them, the Cognac finish was not to my liking. I like bourbon and I like cognac but the two together turned me off. While it’s interesting that bourbon producers are experimenting with second finish, I do hope we find some better results over PHC Cognac or Angels Envy.

    • I’m sorry to hear that Greg. I will say that when it was announced, the news that the 2011 release of the PHC would be a 100 proof, Cognac barrel finished 10-year old bourbon disappointed me at the time, and I was skeptical of it despite reading a few pretty good reviews before I tasted it. Still, clearly it won me over. I know you’re not alone in your opinion of it.

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