Monday, November 24, 2014
Proof Positive? Two Batches of Parker's Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey
This year's Parker's Heritage Collection is a 13 year old Wheat Whiskey. Heaven Hill has released at least two dumps at different proofs: 127.4 and 126.8, so I tried one of each to compare. From what I can tell the 127.4 came out first and was the version sent to reviewers.
Parker's Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey, 13 yo., 127.4 proof, 63.7% abv ($90)
The nose has soapy bourbon notes, like a bourbon-bubble bath, then a touch of oak. The palate is caramel sweet with a hint of acid that grows into the finish but keeps some wood to balance it out. The finish on the nose is quite nice, like a good, oaky wheated bourbon. Water adds some nice vanilla notes and gives it some wood spice.
This is exactly what you would expect it to be, an oakier, more complex version of Heaven Hill's Bernheim Wheat Whiskey. Wheat whiskey isn't for everyone, but if you like Bernheim, you'll love this more sophisticated and very balanced version.
Parker's Heritage Collection Wheat Whiskey, 13 yo, 126.8 proof, 63.4% abv ($90)
The nose has brown sugar and oak followed by earthy almost mushroomy notes. The palate is quite different, sweet first, then quickly acidic, very acidic like it has a squirt of lemon in it. The acid massively dominates the finish on the palate, but the nose retains the earthy stuff. The acidic notes are so strong they really put the whole thing out of balance and give it a burning sensation that the first batch didn't have, even though the first batch is higher proof. Water helps give it some composure and mutes it a bit but doesn't save it. I definitely would not buy a bottle of this.
It's stunning how different these two batches are. The first is quite nice and well balanced whereas the second is a bit of fiasco. Not surprisingly, the freebie bottles that went to reviewers (not me) all seem to have been from the first batch. I feel sorry for those who, based on those reviews, grabbed the second batch.