The 13th edition of Heaven Hill’s Parker’s Heritage Collection (PHC) was not only the first rye in the series, but also the first release to experiment with the use of heavy char barrels. Before we go any further, let’s explore the various char levels used in the bourbon industry.
Barrel charring is measured from 1 through 5 and each level indicates the amount of time that the inside of the barrel is exposed to open flame. For reference, a level 1 char lasts only 15 seconds. Heaven Hill (as well as many others in the industry) typically uses a level 3 char—40 seconds of char time. This release came from barrels with a level 5 char. Level 5 char barrels are exposed to open flame for a full 90 seconds which is more than double that of a level 3. The result is a drastic change to the wood inside the barrel.
These heavy char barrels have deep fissures that occur as the extreme heat causes the wood to peel away from the barrel and those bigger cracks allow the liquid to more easily penetrate into the staves. These barrels had to be custom ordered because this char level is rarely used in the industry. To promote even deeper interaction with the wood, the 75 barrels that went into this release were aged on the 7th floor of Rickhouse Y. Those top floor heat cycles very likely resulted in much more vigorous aging than that of a lower, more temperate floor.
Parker’s Heritage Heavy Char Rye uses Heaven Hill’s standard rye mashbill of 51% Rye, 35% Corn and 14% Malted Barley. It aged for 8 years and 9 months and was bottled at 52.5% ABV without chill filtration.
|Nose||Cherries, toasted oak, cornbread, croissant, fresh herbs, mint leaves, crème brûlée topping, charcoal briquettes. With water, toffee, less herbal and more pastry notes, hints of raspberry and plum.|
|Taste||Zesty! More herbs, heavy cinnamon and white pepper, cherry compote, hint of smoke, orange peel, caramel apple, rye spice, toasted almond. With water, blackberry, allspice, and sugar coated walnuts.|
|Finish||Drying, clove, dried berries, hint of buttered popcorn, vanilla ice cream, more hints of smoke, peanuts. With water, poundcake, mint, waffle cone, and almond cookies.|
|Overall Thoughts||Evaluating this on flavor alone, this is a really nice rye. As is often the case these days, however, it's not a particularly great value for the price in terms of what you get…and that's assuming retail price. At $55, Pikesville Rye is aged 6 years, uses the same mashbill, and is bottled at a similar proof. As always with these highly sought-after products, be prepared to pay extra because of the brand name.|