February 6, 2020
Elijah Craig is one of Heaven Hill’s most affordable and widely distributed single barrel picks while Parker’s Heritage is one of Heaven Hill’s most desirable and limited releases. I mention this because in 2017, Heaven Hill’s annual Parker’s Heritage release was an 11-year-old single barrel bourbon (clocking in at 61%, alcohol), which kind of overlaps with 11 year old Elijah Craig picks. Since I bought a bottle of a Virginia ABC 11-year-old Elijah Craig pick, I’ve been burning to do a comparison to find out just how different two of Heaven Hill’s 11 year old single barrel bourbons actually are.
Yes, there are differences in proof and price, but otherwise barrel selection is the biggest difference. Assuming MSRP, with the same age and mash, is Parker’s Heritage truly $80 better than an Elijah Craig single barrel pick (more like $180-250 based on secondary)? It’s time to find out in this Parker’s Heritage vs Elijah craig comparison. Here we go.
The below table outlines key facts and figures for each Heaven Hill single barrel bourbon.
This comes as a shock even for me, but I prefer the $30 Elijah Craig 11 Year Single Barrel to the $110 Limited Edition Parker’s Heritage 11 Year Single Barrel. The Elijah Craig barrel pick is well balanced between the brown sugar sweetness, vanilla, apple, oak, cinnamon, and rye. It’s a little pillowy as well, making it so easy to drink. Combined with the price, it’s accessible and utterly enjoyable.
Parker’s Heritage, even with the higher proof, is less rich and interesting than Elijah Craig. The nose is bright with caramel, honey, hints of cherries, vanilla, cinnamon, clove, and anise, overall like bright and freshly burnt and crusty crème brulee. There’s also more freshly cut wood, dried grass, and dried nuts. The flavors are similar to the nose, but with a little more dried citrus and an oily and viscous quality that coats my mouth. Overall, it’s a drier whiskey and not unfortunately great. Oxidation may have robbed this Parker’s Heritage of much of its richness, making it not as flavorful, vibrant, or interesting as the Elijah Craig Barrel Pick. It’s truly disappointing.
Ultimately, I can only base this comparison on what I experienced during the comparison, not how they were during the initial review. It just goes to show that price and limited availability aren’t everything. But because I am human, I still feel the strong pull towards often high-priced and limited-edition whiskeys.