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Friday, April 7, 2017

Bourbon and Rye Day Friday: Larceny Very Special Small Batch Bourbon

Heaven Hill's bargain Old Fitzgerald BIB wheated bourbon has been getting phased out for some time. It appears to be getting replaced by John F. Fitzgerald Larceny Very Special Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Or, Larceny, for short. Like Old Fitz BIB, Larceny is distilled by Heaven Hill, using a mashbill with wheat (rather than rye) as the secondary grain. But Larceny is NOT bottled in bond. It swings at 46%abv and has no age statement. And it's 50-100% more expensive than Old Fitz BIB.


The official website has this weird quote: "Larceny was hand selected by the Master Distillers to have a taste profile of a six-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey."

So it's....not(?)....technically six years old? And what exactly does a "six-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey" taste like? There have been a lot of "six-year-old Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskeys" throughout time, and they all have had their own taste profiles. And why six years old? And how old is this stuff really?


The original Larceny marketing brochure mentions 75 or fewer barrels per batch, while some reviews reference 100 or fewer barrels. For major bourbon producers this probably does qualify as a small batch. Plus it's nice that there's some sort of number attached to the batch size, even if it's 15,000-20,000 bottles wide.


I'm not the biggest fan of contemporary wheated bourbons. (Note my lament over my last bottle of Maker's.) I didn't mind Heaven Hill's Old Fitz BIB when it was around. Dusty wheaters are different story. I adore Stitzel-Weller's Old Fitzes. In any case, I'm approaching this tasting with an open mind. I'd like to like a current wheated bourbon.

 Heaven Hill
Brand: John F. Fitzgerald Larceny Very Special Small Batch Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Type: Straight Bourbon Whiskey
Region: Louisville, Kentucky
Maturation: New American oak
Age: ???
Mashbill: I've seen 68 corn / 20 wheat / 12 malted barley; and 75 corn / 20 wheat / 5 malted barley
Bottle Code: A0756
Alcohol by Volume: 46%
(Sample from my father-in-law's bottle)

The nose leads with caramel, char and bargain maraschino cherries (Red 40 standing by). There's also plenty of corn and stewed fruits. With time, a dandelion note moves to the fore. The palate is pretty easy, no burn and no complexity. It's sweet, like icing and the aforementioned cherries. A little floral note. Some halvah, corn, wood and black pepper. A little more heat in the finish. Mild char and wood spice. It gets VERY sweet with time.

WITH WATER (~40%abv)
The nose gets very grassy, and picks up a slight barbecue note. Still full of corn and char. The palate gets grainier and the oak dissipates. There's a good sweetness to it and some tart citrus. It finishes leaner and more peppery. A little acidic and bitter.

It's a very easy drink that improves with a little water. Not terrible on the rocks. Would probably serve decently in cocktails. Can't say I'd buy a bottle of it, but I wouldn't turn away a free pour. It's something you can drink and forget, thus it's an improvement over all of my Maker's experiences. I don't recommend it sipped in a Glencairn glass. Pour it in a tumbler, give it a splash of water and don't expect much.

Availability - Everywhere
Pricing - $20-$35
Rating - 78 (with water)