Henry McKenna 10 Year Old Bottled in Bond Bourbon used to be an easily found $30 to $35 bottle of bourbon. It used to have a screw top for crying out loud. Then, in 2018, it won best bourbon at the San Francisco International Wine and Spirits Competition. Then, in 2019, it won best whiskey overall in the same competition. It is rumored that Heaven Hill wasn’t planning on entering it in the competition but, at the last minute, went to a local liquor store and pulled one of the shelf and entered it. Highly unlikely, but that is the rumor. Since these awards, what was once a daily drinker for many bourbon fans has now become a special allocated bottle. America and indeed the world seems to have an insatiable thirst for bourbon, and lesser known but really good bottles now are in high demand.
So much so that this former screw top bourbon is nearly impossible to find. My last dram was at a bar in New Orleans in 2019. Thankfully, Hokus Pokus still charges $36.99 for it, but it now sells for much more at most places, and even more in the secondary market. Casker’s has it for $107.99. Hokus Pokus allocated me a bottle of it; they only got a few in.
This bourbon is Heaven Hill’s standard bourbon mashbill, with 75% corn, 13% rye, and 12% malted barley. Being a bonded whiskey, it is 100 proof. The color is a nice solid amber but nothing to write home about. On the swirl there is a thin film and nice legs. Nose is traditional Heaven Hill bourbon – vanilla, caramel, some fruitiness, and some oak. I am really not expecting much here. But on my first sip, I am like, damn, I forgot how good this is: vanilla, candied cherries, baking spice, a slight note of honeyed tea, and wonderful oak notes. Very nice medium rich mouthfeel but this bourbon is so very smooth at 100 proof. Giving it a Kentucky chew does add some spiciness and a little alcohol burn, but still very smooth. On the finish the candied cherries and oak mingle for very long and satisfying finish.
This is an amazing bourbon, particularly at the price I paid. Even at $50 I would be a fan. But, at $107 at Casker’s I would probably opt for something else. The good news is that Kentucky distillers are upping production and building more warehouses. Hopefully, in a few years, this can be a bourbon I can bring to a poker night or something, like I used to with Weller 107 and E.H. Taylor bottled in bond. The bottle of Henry McKenna definitely makes me nostalgic for when great bourbon was plentiful and prayerful that it will be again.