Heaven Hill, founded in 1934, is the largest family-owned spirits-producer in the nation, and the second largest holder of Kentucky bourbon in the world. They are most commonly known for bourbon labels such as Evan Williams, Elijah Craig, Old Fitzgerald and Larceny, among many others. However, a lesser-known brother has blessed this family for the last several years — Parker’s Heritage.
Parker’s Heritage, named after Parker Beam — the sixth generation Master Distiller of the Beam family tree — is a rare, limited release version of the American classic. One hundred personally-selected barrels “from prime locations in the rick house — each with the age and proof Parker feels are just right for such a rare offering” constitute the Heritage Collection. The 10-year, single barrel bourbon is receiving tremendous praise from industry experts, despite not having the maturity of some of the more commonly-known, high-end counterparts (like Pappy van Winkle or Elijah Craig — both with offerings more than 20 years), and it just may be the most highly-regarded bottle to come out of the Beam distillery. It is certainly a personal favorite of this writer, if not too presumptuous to claim on behalf of this article.
So what does this have to do with charity and “Generosity Distilled?” Recently, Master Distiller Parker was diagnosed with ALS, commonly referred to as Lou Gehrig’s Disease — or more recently the-one-with-the-ice-bucket-challenge. In response to life’s latest challenge, Parker created the seventh edition of the Heritage Collection series as the “Promise of Hope” bottling as stated by the ALS Association “one that had a little bit of himself built in.” While perfecting his personal masterpiece, Parker Beam also is contributing to the battled against ALS. For every bottle that is sold, $20 will go to the Promise Fund.
The Promise Fund, established in 2013, helps raise awareness and funds for the ALS Association — also the beneficiaries of the ice-bucket challenge — to conduct research, advocacy and care for those inflicted with the perilous malady. When the final bottle of Parker’s Heritage seventh edition is sold, it will have raised over a quarter of a million dollars, as well as countless dollars due to awareness and other fundraising endeavors.
ALS strikes 5,600 Americans every year, and is estimated to afflict 30,000 in the U.S. at any given time. It is an ailment that affects every person differently, and on different timelines. While the average life expectancy is two to five years, some have been known to live with quality for more than five years. There is no cure or treatment that will prevent or reverse the effects of ALS — only devices and therapeutic treatments to help manage the symptoms — so funding for a cure is crucial.
Parker Beam is making his ailment public in hope that his efforts can help the thousands of others who share his condition, and the thousands who will be diagnosed next year, and the year after. His leadership is symbolic of a man who earned induction as a charter member of the Bourbon Hall of Fame, and recipient of Whiskey Advocate’s Lifetime Achievement Award.
The eighth edition is set to release sometime this fall — official release date kept locked away in a vault with the recipe for Coca-Cola — and will undoubtedly live up to Parker’s “masterful” standard. So keep an eye out, because they go fast. And nothing screams Kentucky hospitality like being charitable with your bourbon.