User ID:

Remember me
Lost password?

Friday Fishwrap
Proof That Man Cannot Drink Wine Alone

By Stephen Eliot

I take a fair amount of flack from family and friends for the hyperbole with which I talk about new wines and spirits that capture my fancy, and I confess they do have a point. Searching out the new and the different is what I do, and the hunt for fascinating new tipples is as much fun now as it was when it began more years back than I’d like to admit. Complacency need not come with experience, and, when something comes along that really excites, my enthusiasm is a bit hard to contain.

With that quick caveat and recognition in mind, I can honestly say that the fourth edition in Heaven Hill’s Parker’s Heritage Collection is as fine a Bourbon as has come my way…period. Each year since 2008, the Heaven Hill distillery in Bardstown, Kentucky has released a very limited offering of special Bourbons named in honor of sixth-generation Master Distiller (and personal hero) Parker Beam. The most recent, which hit store shelves late last year is an altogether extraordinary bottling rightly meant for the true Bourbon connoisseur.

Given ten years of barrel age on the top floors of the distillery’s rickhouses, non-chill filitered and bottled at cask strength, the 2010 edition of Parker’s Heritage Collection employs corn, malted barley and Kentucky winter wheat in its mash bill rather than Heaven Hill’s usual mix of corn, barley and rye. This wheated mashbill makes for a decidedly rounder texture, a little more sweetness and a little less spice than the more conventional recipe. It also makes for a wonderfully rich dram of what Kentucky does best. Sporting layers and layers of caramel, sweet smoke, vanilla and maple, it is about as complex as Bourbon gets, and it lingers with a finish that seems to go on forever. At over 120 proof, it may strike some as being a bit hot for sipping neat, but serious whiskey aficionados are unlikely to quibble, and a few drops of water will both smooth off its edges and allow its already expansive aromas to bloom. It is, dear friends, most assuredly NOT a Bourbon that belongs in mixed drinks.

If there is a downside at all, it is that it is not cheap (the best rarely is), nor is it in plentiful supply. Only four-hundred cases were made, so it means that its finding may require a bit of a search. Its suggested retail price is $80.00, and, while that is hardly small change by my or anyone else’s standards, it is as rich and complex and downright involving as any of the world’s great and decidedly more costly spirits.

Somehow it has escaped my notice in the local Bay Area market, but I happened on a couple of bottles last week in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I am trusting that I might find a few more closer to home. If not, a second trip to the Midwest just might be in order if that proves to be my only recourse. It is that good.


The CGCW Experience - Take the Tour

Meet the New CGCW

For thirty-five years, Connoisseurs’ Guide has been the authoritative voice of the California wine consumer. With readers in all fifty states and twenty foreign countries, the Guide is valued by wine lovers everywhere for its honesty and for it strong adherence to the principles of transparency, unbiased, hard-hitting opinions. Now, it is becoming the California winelover’s most powerful online voice as well. And, our new features provide an unmatched array of advice and information for aficionados of every stripe.


No Subject
by gdfo
Posted on:9/12/2011 8:21:47 AM

Thank goodness for a wine reveiwer who is not afraid to tackle spirits.

Good review!  I like the touch of the added wheat!


Leave a comment below, but please limit your comments to 1,200 characters or less. We find it helpful to make a copy of our comments to be sure that they fit. In that way, you can edit them if they run long.

(Please note: your e-mail address will not be visible after posting)



Note: Refresh your browser to see your latest comments.

Having technical problems with the comment system? Click here.