At Heaven Hill, Parker is responsible for overseeing a broad product line, including Evan Williams and Elijah Craig. Under his direction, those whiskies have been consistent in quality and have also represented exceptional value (see my post of January 13 on Evan Williams Single Barrel Bourbon 2002). Since 2007, he has put out a limited edition bottling called Parkerís Heritage Collection. These have generally been single barrel Bourbons of considerable age, drawn from the sweet spot in the rickhouse and bottled at barrel strength.
The seventh edition of Parkerís Heritage Collection is hitting the market this fall. He selected 100 barrels of ten year-old rye-based Bourbon (from a total Heaven Hill inventory of close to one million), which were bottled without filtration at 96 proof, or 48% alcohol by volume. The 7th Edition Parkerís Heritage Collection Promise of Hope will be available for $90; for each bottle sold, Heaven Hill will donate $20 to his foundation, the Promise of Hope Fund, dedicated to finding a cure for Amyotropic Lateral Schlerosis (ALS, or Lou Gehrigís Disease). Parker was diagnosed with ALS earlier this year. Heaven Hill expects to raise at least $250,000 in donations for research to battle the disease.
By anyoneís standards, this is a beautiful bottle of Bourbon. Fragrant and seductive aromas of barrel sweetness dominate the nose, backed up by scents of honey, molasses, fresh herbs and menthol. It enters the mouth smoothly, displaying a ripe and harmonious texture that totally belies its high alcohol level. Itís pleasantly sharp in the mid palate, and the long finish is filled with lingering notes of honey and mint. As satisfying as it is to sip on its own, it also makes a formidable Manhattan; use the best vermouth you can find, preferably Cocchi or Antica Formula.
By invoking the name of Evan Williams (Kentuckyís first distiller) and Elijah Craig (the Baptist preacher usually credited with inventing Bourbon), Heaven Hill intentionally establishes a link with the past. By donating part of the profits of Parkerís Heritage Collection to the Promise of Hope Fund, it is forging a link to a better future.
ABOUT THE BOOK: Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, by Mark Spivak, is published by Lyons Press (Globe Pequot). Writing in an engaging and appealing style, Spivak chronicles the untold tales of twelve spirits that changed the world and forged the cocktail culture. While some are categories and others are specific brands, they are ďthe best kinds of stories---the type a writer could never make up.Ē
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