Coming on the heels of an 11-year-old, barrel-proof Bourbon and the superannuated 27-year-old that garnered scads of awards, this year’s third edition of Parker’s Heritage Collection from Heaven Hill Distilleries with no age statement at all might seem like a bit of a let down.
Don’t succumb to that feeling at all.
The Golden Anniversary Bourbon (named for the master distiller Parker Beam’s 50th year in the business) easily equals the first two efforts in this limited-edition series meant to honor the whiskey maker. Beam selected Bourbons from his five decades in the craft to create a quaff that is all about balance, finesse and elegance.
The newest whiskey shows a sophisticated side of Bourbon that wasn’t so much the effect of the first two in-your-face efforts. The company’s calls it “a clinic in the art of blending and marrying whiskeys” and they seemed to have gotten it right. Beam selected barrels from the 1970s, 80s, 90s and 2000s, and added a bit of Bourbon from a 1968 barrel to the mix.
The older barrels were taken from third-floor levels, where mellowness is achieved without the woodiness and tannins associated with aging. The two younger barrels came from upper floors that promote accelerated aging. The result is a work of art in a bottle.
The Golden Anniversary edition of the Parker Heritage Collection will be available in September in a volume of 1,500 three-bottle cases, priced at $150. As with the first two editions, no further bottlings of the Golden Anniversary will appear.
APPEARANCE: Dark amber, very tight legs that slowly give way to gravity.
NOSE: Honey, hard candy, grains (wheat), anise, slightest olive oil.
PALATE: A velvety dance of sweetness and spice. Encounter first the sugar, like a praline dropped on the tip of your tongue. Then comes a blast of very rounded licorice, which dissolves into a spectrum of herbs, in a sense resembling a very complex gin without the juniper.
FINISH: This whiskey goes on and on, ultimately turning into a toasty dessert, like crème brûlée with a topping of nuts. At the very end appears a bit of frontier grit so emblematic of Bourbon.