This review was originally posted as part of the Wheated Bourbon Throw-Down.
Larceny is a small batch wheated bourbon from the Bernheim Distillery in Louisville as part of the Heaven Hill family of spirits. The name derives from stories of John E. Fitzgerald (of Old Fitzgerald family fame) habit of using his personal keys to the bourbon warehouses to ‘liberate’ barrels of his favorite bourbon to give to family and friends. There have been numerous reports that Heaven Hill intends to replace the Old Fitzgerald line with larceny, but they are thus far unconfirmed.
Larceny is a small batch bourbon (100 barrels or less) of barrels from the middle three floors of the aging warehouse. The barrels that go into each batch are aged anywhere from 6 to 10 years. It is bottled at 92 proof. I bought this bottle for $23 at a local big box store.
Larceny is packaged in a square, almost hourglass-shaped bottle with a cream label and black wrapper over the cork. Yes, this bourbon is corked, rather than sealed with a screw-top. That it sometimes unusual for a bourbon at this price range. It is, overall, a very attractive packaging, and could be used for a much more expensive product.
Larceny is a medium amber with some deep tints.
The first whiff of Larceny brings out a quick hint of simple syrup sweetness. It is followed up by bakery goods and corn. There are some citrus notes and ripe bananas on the back end.
The Larceny began with a distinctive prickle on the front of the tongue from the wheat that carried over to the rest of the tasting. It isn’t unpleasant, but it’s unique to Heaven Hill’s wheated offerings (see our review of Old Fitz 12 Year). Under the prickling sensation is a creaminess that coats the tongue with flavors of sweet syrup, caramel, only a little vanilla, but plenty of bakery goods such as wedding cake and frosting.
Larceny is a medium to short finish, clean, with that lingering texture and the taste of baked goods on the end.
Larceny most definitely carries much of the same DNA as the Old Fitzgerald line of whiskey, which probably adds fuel to the fire for rumors of the discontinuation of the Old Fitz brand name altogether. Larceny is a very tasty bourbon in the same vein as other Louisville-made wheated bourbons of ages past. One might be inclined to argue that Louisville has created a sub-niche within the bourbon world with the wheated bourbons beginning with the old Stitzel-Weller distillery (now closed) and carrying through to the present-day Bernheim distillery. Regardless, Larceny drinks like a much more expensive bourbon. It’s very similar in many ways to the Old Fitzgerald 12 Year offering, and only really differs in the aging, to my taste. It’s so similar, in fact, that I wouldn’t hesitate to say that at $10-15 cheaper, it’s so close to the Old Fitz 12 that it may be imperceptibly different to most palates, but not to most wallets.
ModernThirst.com score: 86 out of 100 points
Compare to: Makers 46, Old Fitzgerald 12 Year, Weller 12 Year.
The ModernThirst.com scoring system is a standard 100 point system based on 4 categories, taken in order.
- Appearance: 15 points
- Nose: 25 Points
- Palate/Taste: 35 Points
- Finish: 25 points
- 95+ Epic
- 90-94 Excellent, Good representative of its style
- 85-89 Solid sipper
- 80-84 Drinkable, but potentially flawed.
- 75-79 Low quality, flawed, use as a mixer only
- <75 Rot Gut, avoid