Sadly the Bourbon week is almost over. I had a lot of fun with it and (re)discovered some true gems of American Distilling. I’ll definitively do another Bourbon Week again. So, to close this week off, here is the first edition of the Parker’s Heritage Collection of Heaven Hill. Distilled in 1996 the year of the fire, so we can’t be sure where this is distilled. If it is from before the fire, than it’s from the original distillery in Bardstown. If it is from after the fire it can be sourced from anywhere or even distilled by Heaven Hill distilled in another distillery where they rented time to distill. It’s not from the new plant (the old Bernheim plant in Louisville), since they started to distill there from 2000 onwards.
Nose: Very deep slow-moving smell, that has to be force-sniffed out of the glass (a Glencairn). I’ll give it some time. On paper this seems to be a brute, and brutes can be very shy. Gravy with toffee, still very closed. Overall the gravy plays a big part as a component for this nose. Almost like it’s a syrup, a sense of foreboding. Like a giant, waiting to erupt. For now its still quiet. It smells of a caramel cain, or something we Dutch call “Hopjes” a kind of caramel, coffee, toffee candy. Yeah, that’s it. Slowly the wood comes out. Plain oak, no elegant polished mahogany, but slow-moving unpainted oak and sawdust. Mind you, the oak smell and the sawdust are two different smells. Also a food-like sourness that seems to be partnered with the gravy and the Hopjes.
Taste: Wow, what a body. Again dry wood combined with a rum-like depth and virtual sweetness. Tarry and thick. Halfway through a short burst of wood and char, that moves away again, to leave room for the return of the rum. It’s maybe a tad unbalanced in the finish and the strength and the deep refined taste doesn’t make this for everybody, but if you’re into this, well it doesn’t get any better than this. For me this is a Bourbon that didn’t have a lot of rye in the mash bill.
This is one where the word savoring was invented for. Just give this a lot of time, and you’ll thoroughly enjoy this. Just drink this when you have a moment alone for some contemplation. Don’t let it be interrupted by noise or by the feeling you still have to do something. A bedtime dram, when you’re the last one to go to bed. Top, have fun with it!
P.S. Reading around a bit, some claim this is a Wheated Bourbon made by Bernheim meant for Old Fitzgerald. others claim that it is made in the Original Heaven Hill Distillery (Bardstown) in April 1996, before the fire that was in November 1996. You decide what it is…