It’s been a long summer for a baseball fan here in Detroit. The Tiger’s have personified mediocrity this year and, with the small fire sale that we had last week (trading off David Price, Joakim Soria and Yoenis Céspedes) and the surprise dismissal of team architect Dave Dombrowski, we’re settled in for a pennant chase-less autumn for the first time in quite a few years.
It’s at moments like this one can turn to drinking – luckily for me there is a cabinet full of nice bourbon’s for me to try and write about, regardless of the Tigers score. So we get back into the swing of things with a taste of Heaven Hill‘s wheated entry, Larceny.
For those familiar with the blog, you know that I am a sucker for ‘wheated’ bourbons – that is, bourbons that use wheat instead of rye in the distillation. Now of course rye or wheat are used sparingly in the distillation of bourbon proper anyway, but wheated bourbons have a more sweet, rounded flavor without much of the spicy punchiness rye brings as a grain. Most of my favorite bourbons – W.L. Weller, Maker’s Mark, even Pappy Van Winkle (and the famous Jefferson Presidential Select 18 year) have been wheated bourbons. So Larceny has an advantage right off of the bat.
Larceny is Heaven Hill’s entry into the wheated bourbon market, and they did so with a heaping helping of bourbon history and lore. John E. Fitzgerald was a Treasury agent, responsible for watching and approving of the manufacture and storage of bourbon. As the only man with the keys to the rick-houses, Fitzgerald supposedly had quite the palate, and would choose the finest barrels to…pilfer…whiskey from. The distillery owner, S.C. Herbst, and many years later it’s purchaser, Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle, honored the crooked agent with discerning taste with the brand name “Old Fitzgerald.”
Old Fitzgerald, to which “Pappy” introduced the wheat, was produced by the Stitzel-Weller Distillery until, the brand was sold in the early 90s to Heaven Hill. In 2012, Heaven Hill began bottling Larceny as an homage. A true “small batch” consisting of 100 barrels of 6-12 year old wheated bourbon bottled at 92 proof, they sent Larceny into the market, albeit limited.
Larceny is, for example, still largely unavailable in Michigan, and it was only on one of my trips to Kentucky I was able to wrangle a bottle of the very affordably priced ($26) bourbon. So how did it taste?
Right off the bat, Larceny has a nose that declares its wheated mashbill. There is maple syrup, and a nice oakiness right from the start. Let the glass sit for a few, and it opens up a little more to a butterscotch, toffee and even a hint of honey. Blending with the oak, it makes for a nose that leans into a deep sweet aroma.
The taste was a little sharper than I anticipated – despite the lack of rye, the first sip had some bite to it. The mouth feel was thinner than I expected for the recipe and age – it wasn’t thin like a young bourbon, but didn’t have the creaminess I expected. That said, it had a great flavor – toffee was in front and strong, with tiny sparks of cinnamon behind it (which owed it’s presence to age instead of rye). The drink was very smooth, and the toffee/vanilla with a little grit brought a smile to my face.
The finish was shorter than I expected, but very nice and smooth. All in all, I enjoyed Larceny very much, but I suppose that’s not a surprise. And for the price, I found it to be right on par with Maker’s Mark, and close to my beloved Old Weller 107.
Dan’s Rating: 8.3