An excellent batch to kick off the new year! A touch higher proof than the last but very harmonious and some good depth to it.
Backstory: In a break from my usual I am going to quote from an older 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, and then I will get on to this, the latest new label/incarnation of Larceny 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 mash bill 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 1880s 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: This is the first release of 2022 of the new Larceny Barrel Proof series a barrel proof product that was released in January of 2022 Hence the Batch Code of “A” ( third release of the year) and 122 (Month 1, January) and year (2022) the previous years’ releases are as follows; the first batch we reviewed was the A121 at 114.8 proof, the second one was B521 at 121 proof, and the third and final one was (C921) one weighed in a touch heavier in proof at 122.6. Previous releases we have reviewed were the A120, the B520 122.2, and the final batch for that year, the C920 122.4. These were the debut and first examples of the Larceny Barrel Proof line.
Standard proof for Larceny is 92 proof so you are getting ( roughly) about 1/3 more alcohol and a more flavor concentrated profile than the standard. There are going to be 3 releases of this whiskey each year January, May, and September – so look out for them! The proofs will vary slightly and so will the taste to a limited degree. They will want to preserve the brand profile but that does not mean no variation to keep it interesting – just not a huge departure from batch to batch. Some other side note on this; Finally, someone has defined what they call a small batch – a previously very slippery and elastic term in the whiskey industry – in this case, 200 barrels or less. In case you were interested, that translates into roughly 7-8,000 bottles depending on the Angels share and assorted spillage and shrinkage factors They also have specified that the Heaven Hill wheated bourbon mashbill is ( of course since it is an outgrowth of the Fitzgerald line) is being used The mashbill is 68% corn, 20% wheat, and 12 % malted barley The age range of the barrels used in the blend is from 6 to 8 years, with the profile striving to be that of a 6-year-old bourbon, but a very mature 6-year-old.
Appearance: Lovely clear copper-amber yellow shade that shows it is a nicely aged bourbon reaching a good age ( the shift inBourbonn goes from yellow, gold to red) Lovely color displayed that tells you you are probably in for a treat On swirling the bourbon leaves a thin crenelated coat on the glass with a1 crenelated edgeline that throws a few thick legs, then some droplets on the edgeline.
First Impression: More pronounced bouquet with the caramel nougat/ caramelized nutty notes this time and more almost Spanish cedar rather than barrel char. As usual, somewhat more closed than the standard 92 but wheat and the barrel aging come up with a honey and beeswax note with a dry mint and soice melange. Not much nose burn, more a tickle, alcohol is still nicely subdued and not overwhelming the other elements. The wheat gives it more of a bread (pain levan- not wonder bread) note than a rye bread you normally encounter. Notes of leather, saddle soap, butter, dark fruit, and Spanish cedar notes for a smoother nose than you would expect for a barrel-proof issue. Some warm water opens it up nicely and lets you enjoy all those lovely aromas that would have been lost in the distillery when they proofed it down there – a definite bonus!
Taste: Nice mouthfeel on entry, the body seems a bit more heavy-bodied and more wood ( wood, not char) than the last batch (C921), with a touch more weight and sweetness and an interesting dryness to it with a fair amount of the wood, but again almost more cedar than oak, caramel, corn, plum, or dark cherry with chocolate and mildly spicy with a more pronounced mint note in the finish with additional notes of leather, oak, and hints of light tobacco Nice long pleasant fade to finish. as has become the standard for the Larceny Barrel Proof releases it is smooth for a barrel-proof and dangerously easy to drink!
Drinks: Makes a great Manhattan playing well with the other ingredients, also great Horses Neck, Old Fashioned, and a respectable Whiskey Sour The drier nature of this batch makes for a more austere and drier cocktail – think more Scotch than Bourbon in mixing characteristics
Bottle: We did not receive a production bottle on this batch so we cannot comment.
Cigars: Davidoff Puro d’Oro or a Joya de Nicaragua Dark Corojo
Final Thoughts: One thing to be said about barrel proof – you get ALL the aging characteristics and long-chain esters that develop in the aging process Anytime you add water to proof it down you end up with an exothermic reaction ( it heats up) and breaks those molecules that were created over time and the spirits off-gas the wonderful aromas into the air where they are lost to the Angels Better to go with higher proofs and add as little water to a barrel as possible over an extended time to preserve these lovely flavors As a barrel-proof whiskey, you are getting this whiskey relatively intact and untouched Also with 1/3 more alcohol by volume for the price and a more concentrated taste at $49.99 versus $35.99 is about a 25 percent bump roughly speaking so depending on discounting of the 92 proof bottles it is a slightly better deal – and hell it stands up to mixing a lot better. It is also more of a value compared to its Elijah Craig Barrel Proof siblings which have almost the same proof and cost $20 more per bottle on average. Yes, it does not have an age statement and is a bit younger, but especially for mixing and every day, this is a good go-to! Just be careful on your overall consumption and try to go a bit lighter on the ratios to achieve your flavor profiles.
Website: http://larcenybourbon.comLarceny Barrel Proof
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