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Friday, November 10, 2017

Bourbon and Rye Day Friday: Henry McKenna 10 year old BIB Single Barrel 3563

These Henry McKenna 10 year olds are one of the last of Heaven Hill's throwback whiskies. And by "throwback" I don't mean, like, two decades ago. I mean, like, two years ago. There's an age statement (of two digits!), it's bottled in bond and it's a single barrel. And it's still in the $30 range.

Even more importantly, the quality is consistently......of quality. As long as Ohio keeps selling these bottles at $29.99, I'll always have one on hand. Today I'm reviewing the McKenna I brought to my private event in September. The attendees liked it even more than the Four Roses Single Barrel it had followed. This is my first moment to dissect the stuff. (Meanwhile, I'll review the 4R soon.)

Brand: Henry McKenna
Distillery: New Bernheim, Louisville, KY
Owner: Heaven Hill
Type: straight bourbon whiskey
Age: at least 10 years
Mashbill: 75% Corn, 13% Rye, 12% Malted Barley (maybe)
Distillation date: August 16, 2006
Bottling Year: 2016 or 2017
Barrel: 3563
Alcohol by Volume: 50%
(Sample from my bottle)

The nose starts with mint leaves, brown sugar and shoe polish. Then apricots, tree sap and cherry lollipops. Also some tahini, applesauce and mild vanilla bean note. The mild palate begins slightly soapy. Ginger and black peppery. Moderate corn sweetness. Peep of rye. Kinda flat, actually. After a half hour it thankfully ditches the soap. It softens and sweetens up. A salty lemon thing shows up. Soap lingers into the finish, which also has nondescript stone fruit, cherry candy, barrel char, vinegar and Robotussin.

MANHATTAN (3:1 bourbon : sweet vermouth, bitters, luxardo cherry)
Good. Pretty easy and simple aside from some oak spice. Actually aside from that spice, the bourbon totally disappears into the other ingredients.

The nose works, but since bourbon's for drinking, the strange flat palate weighs it down. Also, I don't like soap in my whiskey, so that note gets very distracting. The bourbon needs time in the glass to straighten itself out, but it still doesn't meet the standards of the previous Hank McKs I've had.

If you have a bottle of this and are experiencing these same issues, then I encourage you to utilize the bourbon in familiar cocktails like Manhattans and Old Fashioneds.

Availability - This barrel may still be lingering around Ohio and Kentucky
Pricing - $25-$35
Rating - 78 (includes an extra point or two for its cocktail performance)