Parker’s Heritage Malt Whiskey

Parker’s Heritage Collection

Release #9

8 Year, 108 Proof Kentucky Malt Whiskey

Heaven Hill Distilleries

What?  Who?  Kentucky what whiskey?  Malt Whiskey?  Weird.  Those were my thoughts when I first heard about this release coming out.  I was a huge, huge fan of the 2014 Parker’s Heritage release, a 13 year cask strength wheat whiskey, so I gave Heaven Hill the benefit of the doubt and decided to just get excited about this one anyway.  I mean, if nothing else it’d be different than the bourbon and rye whiskeys I normally drink.

So for this release, Heaven Hill chose 141 barrels of 65% malt, 35% corn whiskey that had been aging for 8 years.  I went in with zero expectations on what I would find, I just hoped it’d be good.

On the nose I get up front two very obvious notes, obvious because they are the two ingredients in this whiskey (besides yeast): sweet corn and a graininess I can only call malted barley, though I don’t know that I’ve ever smelled malted barley on its own.  Then I get notes from the barrel, almond and vanilla, toffee.  A hint of baked pear reminds me this is not a bourbon, that’s a note I’ve gotten from some scotches.  Sugar cookies and candy corn.  A slightly subtle, really weird, awesome nose.

The palate fascinates me.  I don’t drink much scotch, in fact my grandfather said to never trust anyone who drank scotch over bourbon, so I’m not sure what to expect from malted barley as a main ingredient.  I love the mouthfeel right away, it’s a heavy medium body, very oily, and totally coats the tongue.  Taste buds going crazy, tons of flavor!  There’s some nice buttery and nuttiness to it, burnt pear, and again the grain comes through big time, though it is less sweet and more aggressive on the palate.  Lots of char for an 8 year whiskey, a nice campfire smoke in the finish, and there’s a dustiness to it that I don’t find in bourbons.  It’s not super smooth, goes down pretty hot, but that’s not entirely unexpected at 108 proof, though I’ve had higher proof pours than this that go down much smoother.  It’s got a rustic, unrefined quality to its flavors that I appreciate, and I know that’s a pretty vague and unhelpful thing to say, but I don’t know how else to put it.  It’s unlike anything I’ve ever had from Heaven Hill before.  Not a bourbon, not a scotch, not even really an in-between.  It stands alone.

I’m very impressed with this release.  For one, it’s delicious.  Secondly, it really makes me respect the innovation of the guys at Heaven Hill.  Everyone (including me) talks about how Buffalo Trace is so experimental and doing all kinds of cool things with whiskey, but this whiskey reminds me that some of these families have been in the game for ages, perfecting their craft, and doing experiments of their own.  What’s unique about whiskey is that to get the good stuff, it must be aged for a number of years.  It’s impossible to tell what will be popular by the time your product comes to maturation.  Maybe by the time your whiskey is ready to sell, people won’t want to buy it, so every experiment is a big risk, monetarily.  In my opinion, this experiment paid off big time.  Thanks Heaven Hill for another great limited release, and I look forward to next year’s.

Rating 9.4 / 10

Bought in Tennessee for $100, and as always a portion of every purchase of PHC goes to ALS research, in honor of Parker Beam (current Master Distiller Craig Beam’s father).


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