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Review: Parker’s Heritage Collection 2013 Bourbon (Promise of Hope)

Two weeks ago I popped into my neighborhood liquor store. I’m fortunate to have a very good store right in my neighborhood, though my bank account would probably disagree. As I walked into the store, I noticed a familiar face greeting customers – Heaven Hill Master Distiller, Craig Beam. Craig and his father, Parker (namesake of this particular bourbon I’m reviewing) are two of the nicest guys in the whiskey industry. It was great chatting with Craig, hearing what’s going on at Heaven Hill, but most importantly learning that his father was doing well in spite of his battle with ALS.

Each year, Parker Beam and Heaven Hill select a special expression of whiskey to release under the Parker’s Heritage Collection label. This year’s release is a 10 year old single barrel from high up in Rickhouse EE – one of Parker’s favorite spots to select barrels. On top of that, the 2013 PHC release is titled the “Promise of Hope” bourbon as a result of a partnership between Heaven Hill and the ALS Association’s “ALS Promise Fund”. For every bottle sold, Heaven Hill is donating $20.00 to promote awareness of the disease, as well as to help raise funds for research and patient care. Kudos to Parker, Heaven Hill, and the ALS Association for coming together for such a great cause.

parkers-heritage-bourbon-290x290Parker’s Heritage Collection Bourbon (2013), Single Barrel, 48% abv (96 Proof), $80/bottle
Color: Medium Amber/Copper
Nose: Perfectly balanced nose with fruit and spice and some earthy undertones. Caramel apple, hints of maple sugar, vanilla bean, cinnamon, elegant oak, dried corn, and a touch of of damp rock and flint.
Palate: A very concentrated entry on the palate of hard caramel candy nuanced with spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, chili, and white pepper). Dried golden fruits (apple, apricot) round out the complex and layered delivery.
Finish: Caramel and warmth from the wood spices linger long.
Overall: Those looking for some sort of statement whiskey, some sort of novelty (finishes, old old barrels, etc), are going to miss what this whiskey is all about – a simple and supremely balanced bourbon. Much like the man himself, the 2013 Parker’s is razor sharp in spots but always composed – almost elegant. This is delicious 10 year old single barrel bourbon bottled at a near perfect proof. In fact, if Heaven Hill is listening, I’d like to see the Evan Williams Single Barrel pushing closer to this proof point. Very well done!
Sour Mash Manifesto Rating: 9.4 (Superb)

32 Comments

  1. Shaun says:

    Thanks for the review. Sounds like a great time at the store! Hopefully a bottle will find its way onto my shelf.

  2. Mark says:

    Nice review, I agree this is a supremely great bourbon, some might say quitessential. I thought the char & corn sweetness were in perfect harmony.

    It really has been a nice change of pace from the great barrel proof stuff I’ve gotten this fall

  3. sam says:

    glad to see you seem to enjoy the stuff as much as i do. after my first dram i went out and bought a second bottle.

    when can we expect your review of the new four roses limited edition small batch? looking forward to seeing your first 10.0.

  4. Lingweeka says:

    We don’t get too many visits from Master Distillers up here in New England but I can imagine the excitement of talking to Craig.
    I bought a bottle of Parker’s HC for a bourbon buddy of mine. I can’t wait to try it this weekend.
    Thanks for the review.

  5. Peter says:

    What a privilege to meet a living legend. One of the best things about Bourbon is the tradition that’s passed down from generation to generation. I agree that this year’s PHC is a winner. Glad to have scooped up several bottles to savor. And great to see you post again Jason. Hope work and family let you do more soon…I miss your passion and insights!

  6. James says:

    This is one where I’ll have to be the contrarian. Nothing about this release stood out as remarkable to me. I may have been quoted as saying it was a “$100 Henry McKenna SB” and while that comment came moderately tongue in cheek, this release soundly underperformed. For me, I appreciated the great flavor and balance, always a staple of HH. I thought it had great vanilla tootsie roll sweetness, and fun, peppery wood spice. But I also thought it fit the profile of a bourbon already in the house portfolio that was much less acclaimed and extremely affordable/available. Heaven Hill rarely misses for me, I won’t be bunkering hese, but I will still be donating money to the ALS Association in honor of Parker and his contribution to my great state, and our great community.

  7. Matthew says:

    I have not tasted this year’s PHC release yet, but I look forward to a pour next time I am before a bottle (not a difficult task in CHI). More important, great to see another SMM post! I hope the frequency of updates does not mirror PHC releases.

  8. Dave from Michigan says:

    Great review Jason. I’ll keep my eye out for this one. I agree with you about seeing the Evan Williams single barrel ratchet up the proof. I have a small collection of single barrels going right now and the EWSB is by far the lowest proof. Do you think there is any chance they would change that? It’s a great bourbon at a great price and I would love for it to have a little more punch. Also, speaking of single barrels, I just picked up the Stagg Jr release. I haven’t opened it yet, but I’m curious what you or others may know about it.

  9. Joe says:

    Dave, Stagg Jr. is not single barrel. It’s 8-9yrs. and has the same mashbill as Buffalo Trace (as does Stagg.) It’s good stuff at about $45 – $50 a bottle.

  10. Patrick says:

    Jason, I love your reviews and on your high recommendation about this bourbon I finally pulled the trigger today. One question I have for you. I have seen this one priced anywhere from $89-$129 in my area. I noticed that you have it priced at $80 and many of the bourbons you list prices at are a lot lower than any that I have seen. You must live in an area that has good quality stores that don’t inflate the prices. Luckily today I got mine for the $89, but that is the lowest I have found it anywhere and I have seen it in about 10 stores.

  11. Andrew says:

    @ Patrick — Jason is a Tennessee Volunteer fan living in Franklin, TN. His proximity to much of Bourbon Country means he sees a greater variety of product and sometimes at much better pricing due to the proximity to the source even though it must be sold through distributors.

    http://sourmashmanifesto.com/the-author/

    Here in FL this product goes for $100 if it can be found at all.

  12. mike says:

    I am absolutely loving this stuff. As for the comparison with Henry McKenna BIB, they both are 10 years old and are similarly proofed. For my palate, I thought the PHC was superior. The difference was not as huge as say HH BIB, but even my untrained palate could note the superior creaminess in the PHC. This one is up there with my all time favorites.

  13. Patrick says:

    This is directed back at Andrew. I think that is what perplexes me the most. I shop in Tennessee and North Carolina, which is where I got it for $89, due to it being a control state, but it also limits what can be obtained too. Nevertheless, I have never seen, if you can even find some of these for the prices Jason lists. I would also like to add that this one is maybe my favorite of this series. Last years was bold, because of the proof status, but this one is simple and brilliant, I agree with Jason, it is awesome. I just hope that Parker Beam can continue being healthy enough to allow us to drink some of the most phenomenal bourbons ever created.

  14. Robert A says:

    One word WOW……
    Thank you so much James at my local liquor store for calling me and letting me know you got this superior bourbon in. I’m amazed by the sweet start, perfect bourbon burn and spice finish. I’m relatively new to the fantastic world of small batch bourbon . I was able to obtain the 21 yr old Elijah Craig , Old Forester Birthday, Buffalo Trace experiment and others this year. This release was better than any other I’ve had this year.

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  16. Bocephus says:

    life keeps going…why not the reviews??

  17. Josh says:

    Miss the reviews. Hope that all’s well.

  18. John says:

    I have 2 weeks looking for this 2013 release and finally was able to get 5 bottles thus allowing to open one ! Absolutely worth the wait, I didn’t mind much paying 90.00 a bottle as it one of the finest bourbon I have tried this year !

  19. steve deininger says:

    Hi Jason.

    Thanks for posting some really well done videos.
    Any chance Prichards Double Barrel / Chocloate Bourbon on your list to review?

    Regards,

    Steve

  20. Josh says:

    Went to my local chain store today to pick up a “Christmas” bottle. I passed on this bottling a few months back due to the price tag and the bourbon within not being fancied up in any way to justify it. Anyways, been hearing great things about it since then and 6 bottles just happened to come off the truck today as I entered the store. Figured it was a sign to buy a bottle rather than regret passing it up again. Hoping this slight gamble pays off at $85/bottle. At least $20 is going to charity. Cheers and happy holidays!

  21. Josh says:

    I’d call it a very, very high odds gamble in your favor. $85 is a fantastic price – I happily forked over $100 each for three bottles yesterday and wish that I’d been able to get more. This is a beautiful bottle of whiskey.

  22. paul michael says:

    Hey Jason,
    Been missing your reviews. You’re one of the best. Know you are often busy with your family but wondering if you are going to be doing more reviews and/ or videos.

    Happy New Year

  23. Southron says:

    Jason,

    Now that Beam and Maker’s is being bought out by a firm from Japan, wonder if you anticipate any major changes or too early to tell.

  24. Chris says:

    Read chuck cowdery’s take on the acquisition

  25. Josh says:

    Japanese acquisition sure didn’t have a negative effect on Four Roses!

  26. JB says:

    Time to play “Taps” for this site? Too bad.

  27. Not so fast.

  28. JB says:

    Excellent!

  29. Michael Turley says:

    $14 for a 2 ounce shot at a local establishment last night. Wow!

  30. Josh says:

    Follow up from my comment back in December. This is a “very nice” bourbon is the best way to describe it. Yes, no frills, but bourbon drinking to the core. Nothing stands out as a WOW but very well rounded. The first pour had more heat/burn than I was expecting, but with some air it is a great sipper. Glad I ended up trading for 3 more bottles for virtually nothing on my end. The mouthful has great viscosity and a coating finish. Definitely pick up some of that caramel on the back end.

  31. Steve Hauser says:

    I have been going back to my open bottle of PHC Promise of Hope on and off ever since it came out to try and find the honor it deserves to be in the Parker’s Heritage Collection. Although it’s a very good bourbon, in my humble opinion it pales in comparison to the unique flavor complexity and boldness of it’s brethren’s previous releases. I would certainly feel better about my purchase value if $40 of the $100 had gone to ALS Association.

  32. RWT says:

    Tried and purchased from the Heaven Hill gift center last week. Overpriced? Perhaps, but a fantastic expression of a straight forward bourbon. I think it’s one of the better non-cask strength bourbons I have ever had.

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