Let me start by saying I am not a huge fan of Heaven Hill’s standard Larceny 92 proof offering. It’s a bit young and the chill filtering brings out that Beam family peanut yeast funk. I really wanted to be a fan given that Weller, Buffalo Trace’s wheated bourbon and one of my go to’s, has become so hard to get. I didn’t really like it and while I will drink it in a pinch, I haven’t bought a bottle of Larceny in ages despite it’s relative availability. However, when Hokus Pokus offered me a bottle of the cask strength offering for purchase at roughly $45, I had to give it a try. It has been pretty hyped up on the bourbon internet. I am not a big fan of Elijah Craig at 92 proof, but love the barrel proof.
So, this bourbon is a healthy 123.2 proof; I am betting this was barreled at 125 proof and lost a little alcohol. Definitely happy this they didn’t chill filter this bourbon. I remain convinced that chill filtering ruins great bourbon, all for the sake of the bourbon not being cloudy when you pour it over rocks. While non-aged stated on the front label, the back indicates that the barrels used are from six to eight years old. Generally speaking, the longer wheated bourbon ages the better it gets. Wheated bourbon needs more age than rye recipe bourbon to develop real character in my opinion. Heaven Hill is using the same batch identification scheme as they use with Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. This A120 batch is the first batch of the year 2020. So, this presumably was just bottled last month.
The color is a deep amber with some slight mahogany flecks, which leads me to believe there is more eight year old bourbon than six year old in this batch. On the swirl, nice film and really thick legs. Pretty sexy. On the nose, vanilla, caramelized brown sugar, and baking spices, and that is just the nose. On the palate, the mouthfeel is very luscious, and the vanilla and brown sugar notes are nicely complemented with a little oak which is surprising for its age. These flavors crescendo into big cinnamon and clove on the finish.
At six to eight years old. All of that on the palate.
Frankly, I am gobsmacked at how good this is at $45 and its relative age. It has a lot of barrel character even at 8 years old – clove doesn’t typically show up until a bourbon is ten years old. It is very close in flavor to Heaven Hill’s Old Fitzgerald releases. If I did a blind tasting of Larceny Barrel Proof and Old Fitzgerald I would be hard pressed to know which is which. Yet one is about $80 cheaper.
Catherine tried this; she did not like it because it was oily and nutty on the front and had too much clove on the back. But, when it comes to bourbons like these, what are bugs in the program for my wife are features for me.
So, definitely get your hands on one of these bottles if you can. I am glad they are using the same batch numbering system as they are for Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. With four releases a year of this wonderful wheated bourbon, after a few releases this bourbon should cease being unobtainable and something you can pick up for a special occasion, like surviving Tuesday.
Elijah Craig Barrel Proof has won numerous awards at various bourbon festivals of late. It’s fiercest competition may indeed be from the same distillery, in the form of this wonderful wheated bourbon.