2018 Parker’s Heritage Collection Review

Where do I begin in providing my overall view of this bourbon? First, let me say that I enjoyed the nose on this one. The candied orange and fruit were inviting on their own, but the presence of buttery caramel notes really sold me on the nose.

Parker’s Heritage Collection Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey finished In Orange Curaçao Barrels Review Header


  • DISTILLER: Heaven Hill Distillery
  • MASH BILL: 78% Corn  |  10% Rye  |  12% Malted Barley
  • AGE: 7-8 Years, then aged for four months in barrels that previously held French orange curaçao liqueur
  • YEAR: 2018
  • PROOF: 110 (55% ABV) | NCF (non-chill filtered)
  • MSRP: $89.99
  • BUY ONLINE: Available starting in mid-September


NOSE: Candied Oranges  & Fruit |  Buttery Caramel  |  Oak

TASTE: Sweet Orange Pulp  |  Bitter Orange Rind  |  Bold Pepper  |  Toasted Oak

FINISH:  Long with a Hint of Honey  |  Orange Peel | Toasted Oak | Spice

SHARE WITH: This is one to share with your bourbon geek friends who are curious about it but aren't holding out much hope for it being something they add to their own collection.

WORTH THE PRICE: $89.99 in today's market isn't so bad for a limited release. But even so, I think it's too much for what you get with this release. I'd rather take the money and purchase a few bottles of Elijah Craig for the home bar.

BOTTLE, BAR OR BUST: Most bourbon purists are probably going to skip this one but for those that are curious, try it at a bar first. For those that absolutely love trying new barrel finished whiskeys I would also recommend sampling at a bar first. I don't think they'd be happy owning a full open bottle of this one.

OVERALL: Where do I begin in providing my overall view of this bourbon? First, let me say that I enjoyed the nose on this one. The candied orange and fruit were inviting on their own, but the presence of buttery caramel notes really sold me on the nose. There is no doubt that this was finished in a barrel of that once contained orange-flavored liquid. As pleasant as the nose was, the first sip though shocked the hell out of me. I was greeted with sweet orange pulp on the tip of my tongue that quickly turned bitter, and reminded me of an orange rind. Then as I barely started to process the sweet to bitter taste shift my tastebuds were slapped to attention by a bold and wholly unexpected hit of pepper and oak spice. It was hot, it was big, and it caught me entirely off guard.

Next came the finish which was long and delivered a much needed soothing hint of honey blended with orange peel which, in time, faded into toasted oak and spice notes. The finish was a lovely way to round out my bumpy tasting experience and helped me deal with the shock of getting mugged by the aggressive pepper and oak notes midway through my tasting. In an attempt to find some middle ground I did add a few drops of water before trying it again. The water helped soften the strong pepper and oak notes that caught me off guard and helped bring everything together in better balance. Unfortunately, adding water also toned down a lot of the other flavors resulting in a slightly tannic finish.

I love the idea of this bourbon, but it failed to live up to my expectations. I have high expectations of barrel finishes. I feel they must add something to a whiskey so that the resulting expression is greater than the sum of its parts. In this case, while the barrel finishing added orange flavors as expected, the final bourbon was less desirable than whiskey that was initially placed in the orange curacao barrels for finishing.

Each year I look forward to the release of  Parker's Heritage Collection and view it almost as a promise of something unique that is well above what I can get daily via the retail channel concerning flavor, quality, and innovation. Unfortunately, and it pains me to say it, this year's release didn't deliver on that promise.


Each year as part of the Parker’s Heritage Collection, we select a special whiskey to be released in the name of our late Master Distiller Parker Beam. The barrels selected for this series include Bourbon, rye and wheat whiskeys, among others, and are some of the finest and most diverse whiskeys ever produced. They are a fitting tribute to the expertise of Parker Beam.

As the second barrel finished edition of the series, this edition continues to pave the way for innovation at Heaven Hill Distillery. This 7 to 8-year-old Bourbon has been aged in the upper floors of Rickhouse Q and finished for four months in barrels that previously aged French orange curaçao liqueur. It is bottled without chill filtration at 110 proof.


Nose: Pepper, dried fruit, oak and vanilla

Taste: Spicy citrus, nutmeg, caramel & hints of honey

Finish: Strong, top of mouth, silky,  toasted toffee



12th Edition of annual ultra-premium release renews partnership with Master Blender Alain Royer and continues support of ALS research and patient care

BARDSTOWN, KY— Heaven Hill Distillery announced today the 2018 limited edition release of Parker’s Heritage Collection Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey finished in orange curaçao barrels. The 12th edition will be shipping into select markets across the country beginning in September.

The 2018 edition showcases the versatility that Heaven Hill’s 1.4 million aging barrels provides for an ultra-premium, innovative Bourbon. Aged for seven to eight years in the upper floors of Rickhouse Q, the Bourbon was then aged for four months in barrels that previously held French orange curaçao liqueur. The orange curaçao finished offering is the second barrel-finished Bourbon in twelve years of the annual Parker’s Heritage Collection series. Royer also partnered on a previous edition, which featured a Cognac finished Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey.

Bottled at 110 proof (55% abv) and non-chill filtered to preserve all the flavor compounds, the orange curaçao finish lends a unique flavor that complements the Bourbon without overpowering it, creating an entirely new and elegant tasting experience.

The annual release of Parker’s signature line is one of the most highly anticipated bottlings for Whiskey and Bourbon lovers worldwide, as the collection produces an innovative, highly sought after bottling each year and now serves as a remembrance of the collection’s namesake. Parker’s Heritage Collection was originally conceived to showcase the extraordinary quality and broad range of Heaven Hill’s American Whiskey holdings, as Heaven Hill boasts the world’s second largest inventory of aging American Whiskey.

The late Heaven Hill Master Distiller Parker Beam, for whom the acclaimed series is named, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (also called ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) in 2010. The past five editions from 2013-2017, including the “Promise of Hope” Bourbon, the “Original Batch” Straight Wheat Whiskey, the Kentucky Straight Malt Whiskey, the 24-Year-Old Bottled-in-Bond Bourbon, and the 11-Year-Old Single Barrel, respectively, have raised over one million dollars toward ALS research and patient care through contributions made by Heaven Hill for each bottle purchased. Heaven Hill will continue with this cause-related campaign, and will again contribute a portion of the proceeds from the average national retail cost of $89.99 of each 750ml bottle sold of this year’s release to the ALS Association. With every past edition of Parker’s Heritage Collection quickly selling out, the company expects to continue to generate significant dollars for this effort in Parker’s memory.

“We are excited to resume our partnership with Alain Royer as we continue to innovate with barrel finished products,” said Susan Wahl, Group Product Director at Heaven Hill Distillery.  “Parker appreciated thoughtful, new ways to enjoy Bourbon, as evidenced by his original collaboration with Royer.  This newest edition blends both Parker’s imprint, as the Bourbon was distilled by him several years ago, but also the imprint of our current Master Distiller, Denny Potter, who worked through countless samples to find the perfect balance of flavor and Bourbon. We are proud to continue offering the Parker’s Heritage Collection in his memory and continue to support ALS research and patient care efforts.”

Packaged in the same upscale 750ml bottle as the previous eleven editions, but with a beige colored label, the newest Parker’s Heritage Collection edition reflects the care and craftsmanship of its contents. Available in a three-bottle case, it will be featured on the shelves and back bars of the nation’s finest spirits retailers and on-premise accounts starting in September. With previous releases having won multiple awards from Whisky Advocate magazine, Whisky Magazine and the San Francisco World Spirits Competition, the series stands as some of the most critically lauded American Whiskeys in recent memory. Past bottlings have won awards ranging from “Best North American Whiskey” to “American Whiskey of the Year” to “Best of Show, Brown Spirits.”

Disclaimer: Heaven Hill provided Bourbon & Banter with a sample of their product for this review. We appreciate their willingness to allow us to review their products with no strings attached. Thank you.