August 20, 2017

SmokyBeast - An Update, A Night of Drinking, and a Review

Hello beasties!

Apologies that I've been a bit quiet on the blog this year.  I hope you all have been enjoying Beast Masters Club!  Truthfully the new format of podcasting, selling private barrels, and interviewing master distillers has been super fun and so I've been spending  a lot more time over there than here on the blog.  I hope some of you faithful SmokyBeast fans in the NYC area will come and join us for One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer, our upcoming live whiskey battle.  I promise it will be a good time if you can make it on September 29th.

But August has come, and I'm up at the cottage in the foothills of the great Berkshire Mountains, so it's time for an old fashioned review.  Digging through my samples I found an untapped 2oz of Parker's Heritage Collection #5.  So here goes.

Wha Dis?

Most of you who read this blog are familiar with Parker's Heritage Collection. It's an annual release from Heaven Hill named after Master Distiller Parker Beam, that started in 2007.  This is the fifth edition, from 2011.  The first review I read online said it was "a bargain whiskey starting at $80." Ah 2011. The next link was to purchase the bottle for $775. Well just about all the original PHC that I've tried have been pretty mind-blowing, particularly the #2 (27 year bourbon) and the #4 (cask strength wheater).  This one is a 100 proof 10 year bourbon that's been finished six months in Congac barrels. I'm not a huge fan of barrel finishes, but the glass is sitting eighteen inches away and I can already tell it smells incredible, so fingers crossed this will be the exception to the rule.

Tasting Notes

Nose: Oh yeah it's starting out right in the pocket. Cream soda starts the show, followed by a really deep old men's club leather and oak. The next wave, similar to the cream soda, is a big blast of vanilla, and then baking spices: cocoa, nutmeg, cloves. There's some spice towards the end of the nose: mint, black peppercorn, slow cooked chili peppers.  The nose is not at all burdened by being cloying, but the cognac does bring out a nice sweet balance against the wood which is lovely.

Palate: Really excellent stuff here. Here's the lesson in cask finishes: Don't put a young whiskey in a super sweet barrel to try and cover up the heat! On the other hand, if you have a really nice mature whiskey like this one, a subtle hand with cask finishing can be superb. The only thing missing here is that it's not very oily, more of a dry palate.  However the flavor profile is awesome. Equal parts sweet and wood, I can only describe it as aged cream soda. The vanilla continues to dominate with quite a bit of sweetness, but mingling deliciously with the full flavored spicy and punchy bourbon. 100 proof is just where this should be with just a touch of heat on the throat.

Finish: The worst part of most cask finished bourbons is the finish, when you're left with a mess of bubblegum and grapes in your mouth and can't even enjoy the aftertaste of the whiskey. In this case the cognac dissipates before the lovely char and heat of the bourbon for a great finish. Oak, vanilla, mint, spice, pound cake, brown butter, lots of great taste buds firing approval off across the synapse.


Well it's a gem. Too bad I don't have $775 sitting around, and if I did honestly I wouldn't spend it on this. But I'm super happy to be drinking it for free.  Definitely the best barrel finish bourbon I've had to date.  Ok, maybe that's not saying much since probably the only other one I've enjoyed was the Angle's Envy Cask Strength.  But still this one is friggin awesome. The sweetness balances perfectly with the wood, the 10 year high rye Heaven Hill bourbon is awesome, obviously some top notch barrel picking was going on with this batch.  I can't remember who sent me this sample, but THANKS!

Hopefully it won't be too long before my next review.