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Heaven Hill Distillery. Bardstown, KY © 2023
Think Wisely. Drink Wisely. ®
Each year as part of the Parker's Heritage Collection, we select a special whiskey to be released in the name of our late Master Distiller Parker Beam. The barrels selected for this series include Bourbon, Rye, and Wheat Whiskeys, among others, and are some of the finest and most diverse American Whiskeys ever produced. They are a fitting tribute to the expertise of Parker Beam.
Proof: Varies by Release
Age: Varies by Release
The 15th edition of Parker's Heritage Collection features the same mashbill as Bernheim Wheat Whiskey, but aged in specialty barrels that were charred for 90 seconds, as opposed to our traditional 40 seconds. Continuing the award-winning series of heavy char releases, these "Level 5" barrels were aged for a full 11 years, where the heavier char allowed the whiskey to penetrate further into the barrel, bringing forth honey and subtle cinnamon spice. The 75 barrels reached peak maturation on the sixth floor of Rickhouse Y. It is bottled without chill filtration at 122 proof. Developed by Heaven Hill Distillery’s own Master Distillers, Wheat Whiskey is the first new style of American Whiskey to be introduced since Prohibition.
“We have the original email to the cooperage,” says Chris Briney, Director of New Product Development. “I found a message to Independent Stave Company from Craig Beam, who was Parker’s son and also a Master Distiller at Heaven Hill. It was from February 2008, and the subject line was just ‘Heavy Char.’ It said something like ‘Hey Jimmy - following up on that conversation we had with my dad last week. I’d like to place an order for custom Level #5. Blast them for a full 1 min. & 30 seconds.’” Briney pauses and smiles. “And then he wrote, ‘And could you be sure to mark them so they don’t get mixed up with our regular barrels? Don’t want to lose them!” In the world of premium Bourbon, exciting releases like these don’t come from this year’s most cutting-edge technology. But rather, for something like Parker’s Heritage Collection 14th Edition, they can be more than a decade in the making. “Bourbon has always been a long game. It’s our job to be leaders in thinking about what our fans are going to enjoy 8, 10, 15 years from now.” When is it time to share these with the community? Briney says, “With projects like this, the challenge is always: has it been long enough? We sample these experiments many times over their life cycle, sometimes weekly, sometimes monthly, sometimes yearly. We knew this whiskey was really good, and the timing was right to put it into play now as it passed the ten year mark.” Parker’s Heritage Collection is Heaven Hill’s hallmark lineup of exploration in premium innovation. “We are both nurturing the future and protecting heritage and honoring the past. We are in a special position with our large aging stock and having produced five unique mashbills. We have the capacity to do the experimental stuff without compromising the consistent quality of the offerings that got us here.” Briney laughs. “You just have to be really patient when you work on whiskey innovation projects. And really organized. Thank goodness for calendar reminders.”
Parker’s Heritage Collection is Heaven Hill’s hallmark lineup of exploration in premium innovation. “We are both nurturing the future and protecting heritage and honoring the past. We are in a special position with our large aging stock and having produced five unique mashbills. We have the capacity to do the experimental stuff without compromising the consistent quality of the offerings that got us here.” Briney laughs. “You just have to be really patient when you work on whiskey innovation projects. And really organized. Thank goodness for calendar reminders.”
Barrels are charred for specific lengths of time to create the desirable aromatic
compounds and chemical changes that occur when intense heat hits the oak.
Click on the staves below to learn more about each level:
This short char time leads to a lot of interaction between the liquid and the natural tannins present in American white oak. This style is not used by whiskey distilleries for long-term aging, but sometimes they become finishing barrels. Most often, they're used for beer and wine production.
Barrels charred for shorter amounts of time tend to show more fruit esters and lactones, which provide woody, coconut qualities. Level 2 barrels are typically not used for aging whiskey, as they haven’t had enough heat exposure to break down the oak’s hemicellulose into the delicious wood sugars that lend caramel and toffee flavors.
This is the standard barrel Heaven Hill Distillery uses to age our whiskey portfolio, providing the perfect balance between spice, sweetness, smoke, and flavorful vanillins. The black char layer on top acts as a natural charcoal filter, removing undesirable compounds, while the caramelized "red layer" underneath infuses the spirit with rich, varied aromatics and dark color.
This is a commonly used barrel that's also known as "alligator char," due to the cracked, shiny pattern that emerges from longer exposure to the flame. These barrels provide strong vanilla flavor as well as an increased presence of phenolic compounds, the aromatics that characterize wood smoke.
Barrels charred this long are not normally offered by cooperages, and ours were specially crafted for this edition of the Parker’s Heritage Collection. They feature deep fissures that occur when the heat causes the wood to peel away from the barrel. These cracks allow the liquid to easily move back and forth into the staves, providing even more interaction with both caramelized and uncharred oak.
Heavy Char Wheat WhiskeyProof: 122
Heavy Char BourbonProof: 120
Heavy Char Rye WhiskeyProof: 105
Orange Curaçao FinishProof: 110
11 Year-Old Single Barrel Proof: 122
Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon Proof: 100
Malt Whiskey Proof: 108
Wheat Whiskey Proof: 127.4, 126.8,
Promise of Hope Proof: 96
Blend of Mashbills Proof: 131.6, 133.2, 137.9, 139.4
Cognac Finish Proof: 100
Wheated Bourbon Proof: 127.8, 124.2
Golden Anniversary Proof: 100
27-Year-Old Proof: 96
Cask Strength Proof: 121.4, 122.6,
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