So, among my many wonderful limited edition purchases last year was the Parker’s Heritage Collection 2018 release. This one is the second Parker’s Heritage release that is barrel finished. This one is a 110 proof bourbon finished in French Orange Curaçao barrels.
I opened this bottle Christmas Day and found it to be a little overpowering. So I thought I would give it a little air time and try it again.
The color on this is golden orangish copper. Emphasis on orange. On the swirl, decent legs. On the nose, is orange curaçao and literally not much else. On the palate is heavy orange Curaçao with a hint of Elijah Craig barrel proof. But just a hint of bourbon. On the finish, is orange Curaçao. The little booklet attached to the bottle states that it was aged four months in Orange Curaçao barrels, stating that the finish “compliments the Bourbon without overpowering it…”
Uh, no. The finish completely overpowers the bourbon. Utterly. Totally. I am left to ask the question of whether these Orange Curaçao barrels were actually empty when they put the bourbon in there.
Not completely trusting my own palate on this, I decided to compare these to some other orange booze on my bar – Gran Gala, a Canadian spirit made with Triple Orange Liqueur and Italian VSOP Brandy which is made by Sazerac (notice it is the same bottle as Buffalo Trace Bourbon Cream), and Orangerie, a Compass Box Scotch infused with Orange Zest.
On the nose, Orangerie is far more subtle on the orange notes, and you can pick up lovely hints of Speyside Single Malt. The palate is just lovely on this; much like Glenmorangie’s orange flavors but just on steroids. A truly delicious orange infused whiskey, without being overpowering. The orange flavors are much brighter on this than the Parker’s. My wife loves Glenmorangie with soda or Sprite with a slice of orange and I bought this bottle for her, and she loves this one.
Gran Gala is also less subtle on the nose as far as the orange notes. Sweet brandy grapes are also coming through. The palate is deep and complex; while orange dominates, the aged brandy definitely makes its presence felt. Really a delightful pour if you are into orange flavors. Given the excellence that Sazerac displays at Buffalo Trace and Barton 1792, I am not surprised at how good this is.
Back to the Parker’s; dang, it is not even so much Orange but Curaçao that dominates. It just lacks any real balance. I drink high proof and cask strength whiskey all the time, so I don’t think it is the high proof that is hiding the balanced flavors Heaven Hill says I should be finding in this whiskey. The Orange Curaçao is just so sharp, I am missing the vanilla and chocolate flavors that could have made this stuff like a bourbony candied chocolate orange like I used to get at Easter.
Truth be known, I have a tremendous confirmation bias on the expensive limited release bourbons I buy; Robb Gibb and Mike Bonin kindly tell me I have an overly generous palate. I paid a pretty penny for this; I was afraid it might have that Heaven Hill/Beam peanut funk on it. Nope. No funk. Just Orange Curaçao. Lots of it. Too much of a good thing.