As whiskey starts to age in a barrel, it takes on the flavors and character of the wood. If it sits too long In a barrel, it can get “woody.” If it’s not in the barrel long enough, it doesn’t have time to develop any real character and has an overbearing alcohol taste. The location of the barrel in a particular warehouse actually has an effect on the outcome of the whiskey’s flavor profile as well. Whiskey makers constantly monitor whiskey as it ages to find that perfect balance of the two. Now, I’m not going to try and explain the light and space of whiskey making for two reasons: one is I couldn’t, and the other is my interests lie only in enjoying it and letting others worry about how it’s made.

A lot of people assume that if one whiskey is older than another that the older one is automatically going to be better. I can’t tell you how many times I have had a 20-year old whiskey that was far less interesting than some 12-year-olds I have had. Drinking whiskey that has been properly aged for a long time can be very rewarding. Older whiskeys have much more complex, full, rich flavors and a smoothness that comes only from sitting undisturbed in a barrel for a long time. If not done well, chances are you have spent a lot of money on a whiskey that you might not enjoy at all. If you’re going to take the plunge into super-premium spirits, I suggest reading more than a few reviews on that particular whiskey that’s going to be an “investment” before buying. Certainly everyone’s taste is different, but if two or three whiskey rags or independent reviews tell you that it’s really good or great, chances are it’s a safe bet to buy.

Parker’s Heritage 27 Year Old Bourbon.

This would be considered a super-premium whiskey. Its production is very limited (I have read only 6,500 bottles), aged for 27 years, very hard to find, personally selected by the distiller, and is priced accordingly. I have had this bottle for a while now and have had a few glasses from it, and I figure it’s time to dole out an opinion. The nose on this is BIG and very complex — and it should be at this age — with some toffee notes and a sweetness that crosses over to candied fruit with very rich wood aromas. I was worried that 27 years in a barrel would give it more wood than the bourbon could stand up to, but it didn’t. In spite of its age, it is completely balanced with the wood and sweetness from the grain. It hits you with a pleasant warming mouth feel with rich toffee and dark fruit notes that leave a long lingering finish that is sweet and a bit spicy, that keeps your mind working on deciphering all the complex flavors that it has. I would say that this bourbon would challenge most whiskey lovers regardless of how long you have been enjoying The Brown. I had the first one neat and the second with a few drops of water which opened it up.

Parker’s Heritage 27 is a great whiskey and is highly recommended to anyone who is looking for a special-occasion whiskey that is above and beyond most bourbon available. I can think of only a couple that come close. If your budget can stand it, I think it’s a good investment (as far as whiskey goes) and certainly deserves a prominent spot on the Top Shelf of your whiskey cabinet. This bourbon confirms to me that American distilleries can offer big, complex, refined, and delicious whiskeys that are as good as any spirit on the market – and proof that getting old is not always a bad thing.

Available: Green’s in Columbia. I haven’t seen it in Augusta or Aiken.
Distillery: Heaven Hill Distilleries
From: Kentucky
Age: 27 Years
Proof: 96
Cost: $160- I have seen it as high as $250-$300 in bigger cities and online


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