Delicious, complex and cheap for what you get.
In a break from my usual I am going to quote the press release directly on the amusing but somewhat complicated story of how this bourbon got named and a little bit of the back story before I jump in with my analysis/review of the actual product:
“ Larceny is the heir to the wheated Bourbons that make up the historic Old Fitzgerald franchise that Heaven Hill acquired in 1999. In fact, it is the somewhat controversial history of John E. Fitzgerald and his eponymous Bourbon brand that provides the story, and name, to Larceny Bourbon, the latest new label from the venerated distillery that produces Evan Williams and Elijah Craig Bourbons and Rittenhouse Rye.
Larceny Bourbon continues the Old Fitzgerald tradition of using wheat in place of rye as the third or “small” grain in the whiskey’s grain recipe, or mashbill as it is commonly known. The use of winter wheat replaces the spicier, fruitier flavor notes that rye provides with a softer, rounder character that is the hallmark of Old Fitzgerald and other “wheated” Bourbons such as Maker’s Mark and the Van Winkle line.
It is actually the story of the Old Fitzgerald brand, made famous by the late Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr., that forms the historical basis for Larceny Bourbon. According to industry lore, John E. Fitzgerald had founded his distillery in Frankfort , KY shortly after the Civil War ended, making his Bourbon available only to steamship lines, rail lines and private clubs. This story was furthered by S.C Herbst, who owned the “Old Fitz” brand from the 1880’s through Prohibition, and “Pappy” Van Winkle, who purchased the brand during Prohibition and made it his signature label. However, it was revealed by Pappy’s granddaughter, Sally Van Winkle Campbell, in her 1999 book But Always Fine Bourbon—Pappy Van Winkle and the Story of Old Fitzgerald, that in fact John E. Fitzgerald was not a famous distiller at all. He was in reality a treasury agent who used his keys to the warehouses to pilfer Bourbon from the finest barrels. His discerning palate led those barrels to which he chose to help himself being referred to as “Fitzgerald barrels”. ” As I said, amusing and interesting story, certainly a lot better than most we have heard over the years on how some brands got their names. The tagline “A taste made famous by an infamous act”
Notes: Finally someone has defined what they call a small batch – a previously very slippery and elastic term in the whiskey industry – in this case 100 barrels or less. They also have specified that these barrels came from the high storage areas of the 4th, 5th and 6th floors and range in age from 6 to 12 years, with the profile striving to be that of a 6-year-old bourbon ( indeed the actual blend is 6 to 12 years old ) but a very mature 6-year-old.
Appearance: Lovely clear copper amber shade that show it is a nicely aged bourbon reaching a good age ( the shift in bourbon goes from yellow, gold to red). Lovely color displayed that tells you you are probably in for a treat. On swirling leaves a lovely thick coat on the glass transitioning smoothly to lovely looking legs
First Impression: The wheat gives it more a bread (pain levian not wonder bread) note than a rye bread you normally encounter with leather,saddle soap, butter and toffee notes for a lovely, smooth, nose.
Taste: Lovely weighty mouth feel on entry,thick oily body with touches of sweetness,mint,caramel,corn and mildly spicy in a nicely understated way with leather, oak and hints of light tobacco. Nice long pleasant fade to finish.
Drinks: Makes a great Manhattan playing well with the other ingredients, also great Horses Neck, Old Fashioned, and a respectable Whiskey Sour
Bottle: Interesting and distinctive a pinched waist flask shaped clear glass bootle with a silkscreened plastic label with a large keyway as part of the design.Type style and color scheme is slightly reminiscent of Knob Creek and a few others but a stand out and attractive bottle that draws the eye on either a commercial or home bar. Easy to spot and identify at a distance.
Cigars: Davidoff Puro d’Oro or a Joya de Nicaragua Dark Corojo
Final Thoughts: A very nicely done bourbon that makes for a great buy compared to many offerings in that price range. Cheap enough to mix with and good enough to be enjoyed on its own – rare combination.