This year, the 6th edition of the Parker’s Heritage Collection is a unique release called the Master Distiller’s Blend of Mashbills.
As the name implies, this is a blend of a Bourbon recipes: Heaven Hill’s 11-year-old rye-heavy Bourbon mixed up with Heaven Hill’s 11-year-old wheated Bourbon. Both recipes are commonly used in Heaven Hill’s primary whiskey lines, like Evan Williams and Elijah Craig.
Now don’t get me wrong: Marrying (or “batching”) whiskey isn’t easy. I know, I’ve tried. Picking casks, deciding on the proportions of each cask, and having the conviction to see a flavor profile through to the end is difficult. (That said, it’s a whole lot of fun.) Mixing rye and wheat? That sounds even tougher.
But compared to some of the prior Parker’s Heritage Collection whiskeys — including last year’s jaw-dropping Cognac-finished Bourbon and 2009′s Golden Anniversary (which had 40-plus-year-old Bourbon in it), this edition strikes me as a little bit less than thrilling. A blend of wheated and rye-based Bourbons? I’m with you. That’s actually unique. But you have to convince me that this is Heritage Collection material.
Pulling cork from bottle, this is sure enough a fine little Bourbon, and it comes across as quite well-aged. And at 11 years old, it is indeed on the hoary side for Kentucky Bourbon. There’s lots of wood here, with a very drying finish — thanks in large part by the exceptionally high level of alcohol. (Last year’s Parker’s Heritage was just 100 proof.)
Beyond the raw wood character (just look at that color…), the rye tends to muscle the wheat out on this whiskey. Spicy with copious baking cabinet character, backed up with copious notes of caramel and bittersweet chocolate. There’s lots of sugar and spice to go around here, but it’s not exactly drowning in complexity. Adding water makes this an easy sipper, but turns it into a tasty though somewhat simple sugar bomb.
High-proof fans will love this viscous, oily concoction, but at $80 a pop this year is a bit of a tougher sell.
131.6 proof. (Sample bottles and early reviews are mislabeled as 127 proof. Shipping bottle proof may vary.)
B+ / $80 / bardstownwhiskeysociety.com