A wheated bourbon made at Bernheim in April of 1996 would have been made under Diageo, presumably by Ed Foote. Heaven Hill received enough wheated bourbon in the sale to cover Old Fitzgerald, so they probably have Bernheim wheated bourbon made in 1996, but it wouldn't have been made by Parker and although made in 1996, it couldn't have made its way into Rickhouse Y until 1999. The press release specifically says this whiskey has been in Rickhouse Y "since 1996," which would be impossible if it is a Bernheim wheater. The barreling date of April, 1996 is seven months before the fire, when DSP-31 was still in operation.
I agree that 122.6 is a little low for a typical Heaven Hill bourbon from a high floor. Interestingly, the bottle depicted on the sell sheet (below) says 131 proof, which is more like it. I remember the first barrel they dumped for the 1992 EWSB, also from Y, was a whopping 145 proof.
Of course, it may be that, in planning to do a cask strength bottling, they deliberately looked for barrels in the 125-130 range, similar to Booker's, rather than a hazmat 145 like Stagg.
Tasting it, I would say it's hard to tell. Though only 11, it tastes older, and sometimes in older bourbons the wood notes overpower the grain notes to the point where it's hard to tell a wheater from a rye-recipe whiskey. On the other hand, my taster's not at full strength tonight, because I'm rather full of rum, but that's a whole 'nuther story.
So, from tasting it, I can't really say, but logically it seems unlikely that the first whiskey Parker puts his name on would be one he didn't make.
On a different point, I think HH's deal with Beam Global on using Parker's name says they can't use the name "Beam" in any product name. It may even be that the name can't appear anywhere on the bottle. The mock-up of the sell sheet doesn't show the back, but Parker's surname appears nowhere on the front.
Before Beam and HH worked things out, HH was so afraid to use Parker's surname that they referred to their master distiller in promotion materials as "Mr. Parker."
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