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. 


Dan Z. said...

Very interesting. For the commenters, has anybody else also tried the 126.8 proof, 63.4% abv, version, with similar or different results?

Anonymous said...

That explains a bit -- I don't dislike my bottle from the 2nd batch, but definitely didn't get how it earned such rave reviews!

sku said...

Someone asked me by email what order I tasted these in so I thought I would report that here.

I first tasted the PHC at a bourbon party I hold every year. Just a casual taste - not for review, no notes, didn't even check which batch it was. Thought it was pretty decent and very similar in profile to Bernheim Wheat.

Last week, I tasted the 126.8 blind as part of a group of four whiskeys (not including the 127.4). When it was revealed as the PHC I was surprised at how dominant the acidic notes were because I hadn't remembered that from my earlier taste.

I called the person whose bottle I tasted at the party to see what batch his was and it was the 127.4 so I asked him for a sample. I then tasted that sample (which tasted about the same as I remembered it) side by side with the rest of my sample of the 126.8.

tanstaafl2 said...

Thanks for the review! Seems like it might be worth seeking out a second sample of the 126.8 PHC from a different bottle to see if this remains consistent. I have only had the 127.4, which I like, but this has encouraged me to seek out at least a sample of the 126.8 to do my own SBS.

Anonymous said...

I absolutely love the bottle of 126.8 that I have. I have read that other people who have a bottle of each proof have said they have tasted these two batches side by side and we all pretty much agreed any differences were negligible. I agree with tanstaafl2 that you should seek out a second sample of the 126.8 PHC.

sku said...

As an update, I indeed tasted a second bottle of the 126.8. I got the exact same sour notes in that one as I recalled from my initial sample. Obviously not everyone gets those notes, but I certainly do. Sometimes, different people taste different things.

signde said...

Your post inspired a small group review of PHC 8 batch 1 vs 2 in a blind side by side on /r/bourbon:

2) Liked the 127 a lot better
1) Liked the 127 a little better
1) Liked both about the same (that's me)

No one hated the 126.

Thought you would find this interesting.

sku said...

Thanks for posting Signde. Great reviews!