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HEAVEN HILL DISTILLERIES ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF THE FIFTH ANNUAL EDITION OF “PARKER’S HERITAGE COLLECTION” AMERICAN WHISKEY SERIES
10-year-old Bourbon Finished in Cognac Casks Represents Joint Effort Between Industry Legends Parker Beam and Alain Royer
BARDSTOWN, KY—Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., the country’s largest independent family-owned and operated spirits producer and marketer, announces the September release of the fifth edition of Parker’s Heritage Collection, a limited annual series of rare, aged American Whiskeys that pays tribute to 6th Generation Master Distiller Parker Beam. This 2011 release represents a bold new direction for the series and for the company, being the first “wood-finished” Bourbon produced by Heaven Hill, a two-time Distiller of the Year winner. It also represents a collaboration between two industry giants—Parker Beam, the legendary grand-nephew of Jim Beam who has practiced his craft at Heaven Hill for more than 50 years; and Alain Royer, 6th Generation Cognac Master Blender, founder of A. de Fussigny Cognac, now working for the Cointreau family within the Renaud Cointreau group.
This year’s release of Parker’s Heritage Collection promises to be a worthy successor to the previous four releases, which stand as some of the most critically lauded American Whiskeys in recent memory. Last year’s highly acclaimed 10-Year-Old Wheated Cask Strength Bourbon captured Whisky Magazine’s “World’s Best North American Whisky” at the World Whisky Awards. The prior release, the “Golden Anniversary” Bourbon, was Malt Advocate Magazine’s “American Whiskey of the Year” and Whisky Magazine’s “Best New Release of the Year”. And the 27-Year-Old Bourbon edition released in 2008 was the first American Whiskey to ever win “Best of Show, Brown Spirits” at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition.
The new release marks the first in the Parker’s Heritage Collection to utilize the practice of “wood finishing”, whereby a mature whiskey is dumped out of its original cooperage and transferred into another barrel that had previously contained a different type of spirit. Commonly used in Scotland, where the newly made spirit may age in any type of barrel (typically Scotch is aged in used Bourbon barrels, but some Scotch producers use Sherry, Port or other types of used barrels), wood finishing is less common in American Straight Whiskeys partly because by law an American Straight must spend a minimum of two years specifically in a newly charred American White Oak barrel, typically much longer. There have been other American Whiskeys finished in other types of spirit barrels over the past few years, as US producers look for a way to differentiate a very tightly defined and regulated product to meet growing connoisseur demand.
In an interesting historical twist, the very first nationally released wood-finished American Bourbon was produced in 1999. Called Distiller’s Masterpiece, it was also a Franco-American collaboration between Alain Royer and Parker Beam’s first cousin, the late Booker Noe, long-time Master Distiller at Jim Beam.
This latest edition of Parker’s Heritage Collection utilized as its base select barrels of a 10-Year-Old Bourbon that had aged in high storage on the 6th floor of Rickhouse “V” in Bardstown. Last February, 15 French Limousin Oak barrels that each held 350 liters (92.5 gallons) of 3-year-old Grande Champagne Cognac from the Frapin cellars were emptied, the barrels were then wrapped to keep them wet and leakproof, and three days later they were shipped to Kentucky. There the oversized (by Kentucky standards) casks were filled with the aged Bourbon and transferred to the 6th floor of Rickhouse JJ, where they rested for 6 months to extract the delicate floral notes that permeated the Cognac barrels. On August 22, when Royer and Beam deemed them ready, these large Cognac barrels were dumped by hand (they were too big to fit the standard 53 gallon Bourbon barrel equipment), yielding 6000 750ml bottles of a spicy, yet slightly floral and sweet whiskey.
This fifth edition of Parker’s Heritage Collection is bottled at a robust 100 proof and is not chill-filtered prior to bottling, which helps maintain the natural esters and compounds that provide a rich texture and mouthfeel. It will be distributed nationally, albeit in limited, allocated quantities, and available at fine whiskey retailers in major US metro markets as long as supplies last.
Packaged in the same upscale 750ml bottle as the previous four editions, the Parker’s Heritage Collection Cognac Finished Bourbon is available in a three bottle case that should start hitting retail shelves and back bars in early October, in time for the cooler weather that traditionally signals “whiskey season”. And while several of the past Parker’s Heritage Collection annual releases have been priced in excess of $100, including the 27-Year-Old Bourbon that carried a $200 national average retail price, this year’s Cognac Finished edition will retail for an average of $80 for the 750ml bottle, welcome news for whiskey lovers in these still-unsettled economic times.
“All the previous editions of my Parker’s Heritage Collection have been very special products” noted Heaven Hill’s Parker Beam. “And this one may be the most unique of them all. It has been a real pleasure to work with Alain in selecting the kind of Bourbon to use, the kind of barrels to finish this with, and the length of time and location in which to finish this Bourbon. And it has turned out to be a really great and different type of whiskey. It’s nice to know that even after 50 years here at Heaven Hill, this old dog can still learn some new tricks.” Alain Royer added “Parker and I have really enjoyed this entire process. From looking at different ages of Bourbon to use, rye versus wheated mashbills, different ages and proofs, to deciding on Cognac versus Armagnac barrels, and how long the Cognac should remain in the barrels…all these factors and variables were analyzed, discussed and tested. And what has emerged is truly emblematic of the whole collaborative process—well structured, integrated, and thoroughly enjoyable to drink.”
Founded in 1934, Bardstown, KY-based Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc. (www.heavenhill.com) is the nation’s largest independent, family-owned and operated spirits producer and marketer and the world’s second-largest holder of Kentucky Bourbon. Heaven Hill’s diversified portfolio of brands includes The Christian Brothers Brandies; Evan Williams and Elijah Craig Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskeys; Burnett’s Vodkas and Gin; Hpnotiq Liqueur; PAMA Pomegranate Liqueur; Lunazul and Two Fingers Tequilas, and Dubonnet Aperitif.
Director of Corporate Communications
Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc.