Can the world handle even more bourbon unicorns? Get ready for the Heaven Hill Heritage Collection, which some have described as a “springtime Parker’s Heritage Collection,” representing limited releases of some of the distillery’s most prized stock.
The big difference here: While Parker’s is focused on innovation and experimentation, the Heaven Hill Heritage Collection will be more traditional: Standard Heaven Hill mashbills (of which there are six), classic newly-charred barrel aging, and — especially — very old age statements. While the Heritage Collection name has been used on a couple of special editions in the past, this 2022 release is the official beginning of the new, ongoing line.
For the first whiskey out of the gate we’re getting a bourbon made from Heaven Hill’s standard “HHreg” bourbon mashbill, comprised of 78% corn, 10% rye, and 12% malted barley. Per HH, “With an age statement of 17 years, this release is made up of 28% 20-year-old barrels, 44% 19-year-old barrels, and 28% 17-year-old barrels pulled from Deatsville, Glencoe, Schenley, and Heaven Hill main campus warehouse locations.”
Also just announced alongside this release is a new Heaven Hill Heritage Insiders program where a number of writers and industry professionals will be tasting barrel samples of works in progress as they are aging, providing feedback directly to Heaven Hill to help guide the development of future Parker’s and Heaven Hill Heritage Collection releases. I’m thrilled to be a part of this group and look forward to bringing you coverage of the Heritage Insiders program as it develops.
Meanwhile, we were fortunate to get a sample of the inaugural Heaven Hill Heritage Collection Bourbon to check out in advance of its official release. Let’s give it a try.
The nose is dense and sultry, loaded with notes of chocolate and stewed fruit. While there’s ample barrel char in the mix, it’s not overdone, adding a richness to a bourbon that perks up with brown sugar sweetness, molasses, and baking spice notes with time in glass. The palate is equally powerful, heavy with raisin notes, more molasses, and a dense, candylike dark chocolate character. Lots of fruit emerges in short order, again showing as densely raisiny, with notes of dried blueberries, rhubarb, and ample spice. Warming but never hot, the finish is long and lingering, with those baking spice notes clinging to the mouth for days.
In launching this collection, Heaven Hill has left nothing to chance, aiming for the classic flavors of what fans of well-aged bourbons love best — and it’s hit the mark just about perfectly. I just hope it’s easier for people to find than Parker’s.