A Pair of Wheat Whiskeys from Heaven Hill: Bernheim Original & Parker's Heritage
I am a 38 year old man. My dog has been aged for a minimum of two years. My wife is…
…yeah. My wife is NAS. That’s No Age Statement for those of you who are not versed in geeky acronyms. And much like my wife, many whiskeys have recently chosen to remove their age statements. It’s due to a lot of factors, but the main one seems to be a decided lack of stocks of an adequate age.
So in an era when age statements are falling faster than the leaves outside my house, it would be big news if someone actually added an age statement to their bottle. It would mean not only that they had adequate stocks of that particular whiskey, but that they foresaw that they would continue to have it for as much of the future as is foreseeable. Plus, why bother? NAS whiskey is selling fine.
But, in spite of all that, that’s what Heaven Hill recently did to their Bernheim Wheat Whiskey. Bottles bearing a large, yet slightly oddly worded, “7 Years Aged” have recently begun to work their way through retail channels. I have yet to see it in Minnesota so when I saw a bottle down in Kentucky bearing the age statement, I knew I needed to buy it. If for no other reason than I like to reward good behavior.
Positive Reinforcement People!
Bernheim Original Kentucky Straight Wheat Whiskey, 7 Years Aged
Purchase Info: $28.99 for a 750 mL at Liquor Barn, Louisville, KY
Details: 45% ABV, Aged 7 Years
Nose: Sweet cotton candy, pears, fleeting hints of peanuts
Mouth: Sweet with a black pepper tingle and vitamin or mineral notes
Finish: Gentle burn. Continues the palate with lingering sweetness along with the black pepper and mineral notes.
Thoughts: This is pleasant though uninteresting. It can take a little water, but not much. I like it but wouldn’t want it for every pour. I’d love to see that age statement creep up even further.
That last statement is something that I’d heard almost every time that I talked to someone about Bernheim. It’s the common refrain: a higher proof and more age would make this perfect. And I’d say in this case, they might be right. Lucky for me, shortly after I got home from Kentucky I got the chance to see for myself if common knowledge was correct.
While I was in Bardstown for BourbonFest last month, Heaven Hill released this year’s Parker’s Heritage Collection to their gift shops. It is a 13 year old cask strength wheat whiskey along the lines of the Bernheim. Just older. And higher proof. I missed it in both the Even Williams Experience and in the Bourbon Heritage Center gift shops. The Bourbon Heritage Center by mere minutes.
Things take a little longer to get to Minnesota some times so when I started to see tweets from local liquor stores showing that they had this year’s PHC I started making my rounds. Many were holding it for raffles or events, but one new comer to our market doesn’t believe in that. They just put it on the shelf. And I happened to walk in looking for a six pack of beer at just the right time.
Parker’s Heritage Collection: Original Batch Wheat Whiskey
Purchase Info: $109.99 Total Wine, Burnsville, MN
Details: 13 years old, 63.7% ABV, minimum 51% wheat mashbill
Nose: Dark brown sugar and caramel, leather and bready notes.
Taste: Sweet caramel, but hot on the palate. Cinnamon red hot candies, mint and ripe fruit.
Finish: Long, rich and warm. This one hangs around for a while.
Thoughts: This is a fantastic whiskey! A little hot without water, but settles down. At $110 I would seriously consider getting another if I saw it. But at that price I will probably only consider it. It’s just under my price ceiling for a bottle of whiskey. I’m happy to have bought it once, don’t know if I can bring myself to do so again.
Since I had a little of each left in my tasting glasses after this, I decided to try one more thing.
Parker’s Heritage Wheat and Bernheim Wheat in a 50/50 blend
Details: My math puts this at 108.7° proof (54.35% ABV)
Nose: Brown sugar, red hot candies, ripe fruit. Shows a lot of the Parker’s in the nose.
Mouth: Thick mouthfeel. More so than either separately. Sweet brown sugar and baking spices.
Finish: Gentle burn that lasts a decent length of time. Sweetness mixed with spice.
Thoughts: I think I like this better than either alone. The Parker’s is awesome, both in flavor and in power. This is a bit more approachable without being boring. It is sweet but balanced with spice. I’d drink this everyday if they released it.