“An experience you can spend the rest of your life with, it’s that good.” That’s the tag line that’s used for Hayes Parker Reserve Bourbon. Which is a pretty damn high bar for a whiskey that I’d never seen or heard of in my life. Which is exactly why I brought one of their reasonably priced bottles home to give it a try.
TerrePURE Spirits, based in South Carolina, is a distilling company with a unique twist. It’s a brand label of Terressentia, which is primarily a whiskey tech company founded in 2007 with the goal of finding a way to compress the time it takes to “age” a bourbon from several years down to a matter of hours.
A traditional aging process for whiskey takes advantage of the subtle changes in temperature, pressure, and humidity over the course of several years to gently push and pull the liquid into and out of the wood that makes up the oak barrel. Through this process, some of the flavors of the oak barrel are imparted into the whiskey and an aged spirit is born. Terressentia believes that they can replicate this time tested process using lab induced temperature changes and other techniques that simulate the same pushing and pulling but over the course of a much shorter period of time.
Over the years, Terressentia purchased a number of distilleries to provide source whiskey for their process and began filling orders for big box retailers under a number of brands. Hayes Parker is a brand which is unique to the retail chain Total Wine (as far as we can tell).
There’s not a whole lot we know about this whiskey, especially since there’s no website for the brand, and any information about the actual source of this whiskey is nestled at least three shell companies deep.
What we do know is that this is a bourbon, so we can assume that the source grains for this whiskey are at least half corn. (Exactly how much is corn and how much are other grains… well, we have no idea.) From there, the grains are cooked, fermented, and distilled into raw whiskey.
Once the whiskey has been produced, the bottle claims that the whiskey is aged a minimum of 6 months in charred new oak barrels. While that may be the case, we don’t know if Terressentia also put this whiskey through their rapid aging process to try and impart extra flavors. I’d say it’s likely given that’s what the company is known for, but there’s no hint of that on the bottle.
Overall, the bottle is a pretty common shape. There’s an elongated square body that rounds to a medium length swelled neck, and the whole thing is capped with a plastic screw-on top. It’s really no different from Jack Daniel’s or Evan Williams in that regard.
Slapped on the front of the bottle is the blue and white with gold filigree label, proudly proclaiming the name that no one has ever heard of and a portrait of some old guy. There’s no history on this bottle and no website where I can look up any additional information, so while I assume that this old gentleman is the eponymous Hayes Parker, we really have no idea. It could just be some random bloke with an excessively large mustache.
There’s a whole lot of citrus going on in the aroma here. I get some orange, but also some lemon zest that makes the spirit smell quite bright. Underneath that brightness is a bit of caramel, and just a hint of vanilla as well.
That brightness and sweetness follows through from the aroma into the flavor. This spirit reminds me a lot of the Glenmorangie scotch, with some strong flavors of honey that take the lead and usher in some floral aspects as well. The difference here is that there’s almost a peppery spice that creeps up in the end and adds a bit of a kick that Glenmorangie is distinctly missing.
Overall, the spirit is smooth, sweet, and light. It doesn’t have the same oppressively strong flavors that you find in most bourbons, and it’s actually closer to something like a Jack Daniel’s without the banana flavor.
The addition of some ice usually kills most of the sweeter and lighter flavors in a whiskey. In this case, the trend continues and Hayes Parker proves no different. Almost all of the lighter flavors are gone, and what we’re left with is pretty much just chilled raw whiskey. There’s the sweetness from the corn left in there, but otherwise the honey flavor and the other floral notes are almost completely gone.
Cocktail (Old Fashioned)
There’s not a whole lot going on here. You’ve got the citrus and the bitters, and they do somewhat balance with the sweetness in the corn, but generally there’s no other flavors in there to make it very interesting.
As the ice melts and continues to dilute the drink, the whiskey flavors disappear completely and what you’re left with is a cold, bitter, orange flavored liquid that’s mildly alcoholic.
We use the mule cocktail as a testing step because it’s a good way to see how well the spirit holds up in challenging circumstances. A good whiskey will add some flavor of its own to the cocktail, balance out nicely with the bitter ginger flavor, and ideally add a bit of spice at the end.
In this case, some of that is true. The orange and citrus flavors that appeared earlier in the program seem to come through here as well and enhance the flavor, but that’s about it. There’s no peppery spice or other flavors coming to the party, it’s just more ginger and citrus.
It’s a very light and sweet whiskey. There’s not much depth or strength to the flavor, and that shows in our testing program. It’s good on its own, but as soon as you add anything to the whiskey all you get is the base flavors. It could use a bit more age, and that’s the one thing this company seems to want to avoid at all costs.
Hayes Parker Reserve Original Bourbon Whiskey
Owner: TerrePURE Spirits
Production: South Carolina
Grain bill: Unknown
Aging: At least 6 months
Proof: 45% ABV
Price: $10.99/ 750ml
Overall Rating: 2/5
It’s a good enough whiskey for the ~$11 price tag, but it’s not exactly a technological marvel of the modern age.