Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

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Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

Unread postby cowdery » Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:27 am

I got a sample of this earlier this week and reviewed it today on my blog.

Short version, it got me thinking about how we here sometimes say that bourbon evolved to imitate cognac moreso that scotch. Who says that here? I do!
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Re: Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

Unread postby Mike » Thu Aug 05, 2010 11:22 am

Now, I may be projecting my own particular palate likes and desires here (and I probably am), but, if so, I take it as my sacred duty to do so! This is an ENTHUSIAST site and I am an enthusiast.

I have found all the Parker's Heritage bourbons (there have been three releases, right?) to be muchly to my liking. And, I have long noted that some of the older bourbons have cognac like subtlety and flavor. In my mind, that is why I like Pappy 20, Parker's Heritage 27 YO, Parker Heritage Anniversary, and Parker's Heritage Cask Strength bourbons so much. It should be noted that cognac like delicacy and flavor are never guaranteed with age, in fact, they are somewhat rare. Probably more often old age in bourbon just means too woody and tannic...........even so, I seem to mind that a bit less than most folks who play on this site.

Knowing little about why this might be the case, I have attributed it to time in the barrel, meaning that over a longer period of contact with the barrel there are reactions twixt the wood and the spirit (like with cognac) that give bourbon more delicacy and complexity, like can occur with a first rate beef stew (think Beef Bourguignon) after long cooking and storage..........who does not know that stews grow better with age, the flavors weave in and out among theselves and begin to lose their individual identities, making for a much more complex and interesting outcome.


P.S. I can hardily recommend Pierre Ferrand Cognacs for anyone wishing to try some excellent Cognac. The main reason I buy it is that I like it better than the others I have tried, but from the little I have read, the old man himself (Pierre), is a crusty old guy who sticks to his proven methods (is he still alive?).
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rage at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light. - Dylan Thomas
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Re: Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

Unread postby bourbonv » Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:35 pm

I have been saying that bourbon was first made to imitate cognac for about 20 years now. I always say take a glass of bourbon, a glass of cognac and a glass of single malt scotch and compare them and decide which two have the most in common - most people agree that it is the bourbon and the cognac.
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Re: Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Thu Aug 05, 2010 2:54 pm

I'd guess that with a name like bourbon originally destined for local consumption and shipping to New Orleans that the drink would be more like French brandy than any drink made by the Scots. If they wanted to make it more like Scotch whiskey they would have tried to peat it, or imitate that flavor. And they obviously did not. Even the Scotsman who ran Washington's distillery didn't peat the malt that we know of. :D (Do we?)

And they would have maybe called it Stuart or Guelph.


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Re: Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

Unread postby cowdery » Thu Aug 05, 2010 7:23 pm

We need a beer historian for this one. I assume early American maltsters burned wood or coal to produce the heat that stopped the germination. What other fuel sources were there? They didn't have peat, did they?

As I've often commented to micro distillers, there is absolutely no tradition of malt whiskey in American, even though there is a long tradition of malt use in brewing, it was rarely distiled. Also, Americans did make and consume a lot of brandy, fruit spirits that is, applejack as well as grape spirit, especially in the interior where they couldn't get molasses for making rum. And the grapes would have been labrusca, not vinefra. I don't know that I've ever had a labrusca-based brandy, but I'm sure it tastes different.
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Re: Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

Unread postby gillmang » Thu Aug 05, 2010 9:14 pm

There was some malt whisky distilled in the 1800's in the U.S. Byrn's distilling text mentions malt for his whisky before even corn. It was more a North East thing, probably for the urban markets, and Byrn was based in Philadelphia. A pre-Prohibition brand of malt whisky in Rochester, NY, quite famous in its day, was Duffy's Malt Whisky. It may have been a blend but it was still called malt whisky and must have resembled closely enough an Irish or Scots malt to trade under the name malt whisky.

I believe malt would have been lightly smoky due to being dried with wood or straw. Even coke (smokeless coal) would have imparted a taste.

We should not forget too the charred barrel. Dr. Crow was an immigrant Scot, he worked methodically to perfect aging in same, I must assume he liked the smoky taste of new charred barrel whiskey. It is not the same as peated malt whisky but an analogy is there to a point.

Certainly some bourbon reminds one of Cognac, but it also sometimes reminds me of Islay malt.

This ad is of interest, apart from its reference to various forms of domestic and imported whisky, note the illustration of its distilling apparatus. It is a pot still with a rectification column attached. Not so different essentially from some of those eau de vie stills being used by some craft distillers today. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose!

http://books.google.ca/books?id=QWEDAAA ... #v=onepage

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Re: Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

Unread postby sailor22 » Fri Aug 06, 2010 9:02 am

I have been saying that bourbon was first made to imitate cognac for about 20 years now. I always say take a glass of bourbon, a glass of cognac and a glass of single malt scotch and compare them and decide which two have the most in common - most people agree that it is the bourbon and the cognac.


A good point. I wonder if they were trying to imitate the taste or mimicking a traditional technique?
I have always thought Bourbon was a first cousin to Armagnac. The charred barrel of both creating more similarities than I get between Cognac and Bourbon.
Am I correct thinking that long term barrel aging was the norm in traditional Cognac and Armagnac manufacture but didn't become common in Bourbon until after prohibiton?
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Re: Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:15 am

It should also be remembered that the scotch whisky of the early 19th century was like today's gin than whiskey. It was unaged spirits flavored with herbs and spice to give it flavors. Barrel aging of whiskey started in the United States and traveled back to Europe. That in my opinion is one reason why American whiskey developed down a different line than scotch whisky. Americans had access to multiple grains but did not have access to the traditional herbs and spices of Scotland in the American backwoods. They made a different whiskey with what they had.

There is no contemporary evidence as to where the name "Bourbon" came from and it is just as likely that it was a marketing ploy as anything - a way to get the Frenchmen in New Orleans to try this whiskey. I can hear them now saying "If Napoleon can have his brandy, then you can have your Bourbon whiskey". Then again it could have been something as simple as the aged whiskey first sold in New orleans became popular with the river travelers and they started asking for that whiskey they drank on Bourbon Street or that "Bourbon Whiskey". The first advertisement for "Bourbon Whiskey" for sale is 1820 and that is a very long time, about 4 decades, after Maysville spent its 9 months or so as part of Bourbon County.

In any case, I agree with Chuck that this Parker's Heritage Collection, 10 years old, Barrel Proof, non-chill filtered, wheated bourbon is filled with aged brandy characteristics.
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Re: Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

Unread postby gillmang » Fri Aug 06, 2010 10:58 am

There are numerous references which I placed on BE some time ago, from which a lively discussion ensued, stating that scientists in the late 1700's in the U.K. and later the U.S. were suggesting that charred barrels be used to store spirits and wines, in the same way water was being stored therein, since storage in such treated wood would prevent off-flavors. As I recall, a French scientist, Berthelet, observed that brandy makers were already doing this. I am summarizing and it has been a while since I looked at the materials, but one of the authors was Anderson, writing in the Bee in Scotland at the end of the 1700's - around the time wood aging for bourbon emerged. Clearly, aging of brandy in well-toasted (I am not sure about charred) barrels had been going on for some time, and finally, this, together probably with the American practice of the mid-1800's, encouraged the Scots to do similar as Mike suggests. I agree with Mike on that but I think he would agree too that brandy had been methodically aged in wood in France well before circa-1800. I also agree that bourbon may have taken inspiration from Cognac brandy one way or another. The name though may have come from Bourbon County - we'll probably never know at this stage. But the point being, the idea of aging spirit in charred barrels was being discussed internationally in science circles circa-1800. It strikes me as quite possible that some producers or middlemen in the U.S. learned of this and started to apply the idea to America's corn-based whiskey. It was probably like the origin of feedback in 1960's rock, various bands did it around the same time, some were influenced by others but some of it was concurrent, was "in the air".

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Re: Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

Unread postby bourbonv » Fri Aug 06, 2010 11:38 am

Gary,
I agree with you that French brandy has been aged in toasted and charred barrels since the 1400s. I think it was the idea of making whiskey taste more like this type of brandy that created barrel aged whiskey. I think it happened first here in the United States based upon what my ultimate boss at United Distillers, Dr. Nicholas Morgan of the U.D. Archives, stated in a talk to the employess one time. Nick said that Scotch whisky of the early 1800s was clear spirits flavored with herbs and such up until the 1830s when aged spirits were marketed. This indicates that it started here in the U.S. and came back to Europe since aged spirits were sold here by 1820.
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Re: Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

Unread postby gillmang » Fri Aug 06, 2010 12:21 pm

Makes sense, Mike. From what I've read, those compounds which combined whisky, sugar, herbs, etc. did precede barrel aging. They emerged I am sure to mask new distillation tastes, the fusels and other rough tastes from non-rectified spirit.

Drambuie is a survival of that time. So is Irish Mist and that type of drink. I like these in a Rusty Nail. The more malty the scotch you use, the less liqueur you need (I have found). I use 1 part Drambuie to 2 of my own Scotch blends and it is plenty sweet.

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Re: Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

Unread postby delaware_phoenix » Sat Aug 07, 2010 7:59 am

The idea of adding herbs and sugar to a spirit is an old one. Even in France, herbs and sugar were added to brandy and eau-de-vie (though in that time it was probably the same). Originally medicines, they became relatively popular to "cure what ails ya". 19th century France had lots of herbal liqueurs, of which absinthe was supreme, but Duplais and other books list many herbal spirits, nearly all of which have disappeared from the marketplace.

In the late 1700's brandy would have been used as the distillation base for these spirits. Later, by the 1850's with Dubrunfaut's perfection of the distillation of the sugar beet and later still design improvements by the many French engineers-inventors, a clean neutral spirit became available in large quantities. A lot of these improvements parallel the still improvements here in the US that led to the explosion of rectifiers, the Whiskey Trusts and "cologne spirits". There's never been a good history of American still construction that I know of (Mike???). Forbes' A Short History of Distillation covers European and Arabic developments from ancient times up to Cellier Blumenthal (about 1880).

I think you're quite right Gary that a lot of herbal additions (and originally gin) were made to mask the off flavors of the spirits, even the rectified ones (ie double distilled). But not only did they have primitive leaky equipment, the actual still designs were bad, as they held to a traditional shape of the alchemists' alembic. See Forbes.

I wouldn't be surprised Mike if the invention of the name Bourbon for a kind of whiskey was a total lark. And some wrong-headed thinking that because Royalists fled to New Orleans, they must all be Bourbons. The French Revolution began in 1789 and threats to the revolution by royalists continued through 1804. Oh, and once one distiller/wholesaler had success selling to NO with "bourbon", everyone else quickly imitated.

Gary, it's unclear if the picture of the still is of one they actually used. It could have been copied (or was a plate the publisher already had) simply to show a fancy still that implied they were better than a simple old still (which is shown at the bottom). It's also seems to be missing a description of where the final spirit comes out. I suspect it's just a plate from another book the publisher had. Perhaps from one of the French books of that era that described stills, but that's just a guess.
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Re: Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

Unread postby shoshani » Sat Aug 07, 2010 11:18 pm

cowdery wrote:As I've often commented to micro distillers, there is absolutely no tradition of malt whiskey in American, even though there is a long tradition of malt use in brewing, it was rarely distiled.


Well, not on an industry-wide scale, but there was at least one brand, Duffy's Pure Malt Whiskey, that was heavily advertised a century ago. I have no idea whether it was barley, wheat, or even rye, though.
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Re: Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

Unread postby cowdery » Sun Aug 08, 2010 2:39 pm

While "absolutely no" may have been too strong, the fact remains that Americans have never made very much malt whiskey.

The distillation of Charente wine into brandy began in about 1600. Routine barrel aging of Charente brandy began in about 1800. The term "Cognac" only came into use after 1860, when aged Charente brandy began to be sold in bottles.

Routine barrel aging of American whiskey began in the 1840s and became ubiquitous after the Civil War.

From the end of the Civil War to the beginning of Prohibition, ersatz aged whiskey was much more popular than authentic aged whiskey. American patent medicines are a good analog to the European spirits flavored with herbs and sweetened with sugar.
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Re: Parker's Heritage 10-year-old wheater

Unread postby gillmang » Tue Aug 10, 2010 8:00 am

There are a number of references in the late 1700's to Cognac Brandy, and one that I found for Cognac alone, to describe the brandy of Cognac (the geographic area). The terms were in use in English trade circles and, I would infer, in consumer ones as well. Google searching will pull these up. It's probably a case of some usage starting early and becoming widespread (and international beyond U.K.) much later.

I mentioned earlier a discussion on BE of science and the charred barrel circa-1800. For those who may not have seen it, it was called Progress on the Charred Barrel. It was kicked off by a March 22, 2009 posting of mine in the Bourbon Lore sub-forum.

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