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Larceny Barrel Proof (Batch C922)

IN-DEPTH REVIEW

Classification: Straight Bourbon

Company: Heaven Hill

Distillery: Heaven Hill

Release Date: September 2022

Proof: 126.6

Age: 6-8 Years

Mashbill: 68% Corn, 20% Wheat, 12% Malted Barley

Color: Chestnut

MSRP: $60 (2022)

Official Website

In September 2012, Heaven Hill introduced the standard 92 proof Larceny to the market as “heir to the wheated bourbons that make up the historic Old Fitzgerald franchise.” The name “Larceny” and key pictured on the bottle is derived from the story of John Fitzgerald, who was believed to be a Treasury agent who “used his keys to the warehouses to pilfer bourbon from the finest barrels,” which were referred to as “Fitzgerald barrels."

Larceny Barrel Proof was first introduced in 2020. It’s released on an allocated basis three times per year: January (Batch A), May (Batch B), and September (Batch C). Each release is a unique batch and consists of bourbon aged six to eight years. The first character in the batch name designates which batch of the year that bottle came from, the numeral that follows represents the month of the release, and the last two digits indicate the corresponding year of the release.

Batch C922 is the highest proof batch to date, and the ninth batch released since the brand was launched.

NOSE

Cinnamon spice, nutmeg, and brown sugar mingle together forming an initial spice-filled burst with a sweet accent. The spices settle against a backdrop of light oak and sweet french toast scent. Odd but welcome, the french toast aroma is pleasing, and combined with the rest of the scents makes for an extremely enjoyable and inviting nose that has you intoxicated for what’s to come.

palate

Served up on an oaky-caramel base, cinnamon spice, nutmeg, brown sugar, graham cracker, and syrup-soaked french toast come together to form a nicely balanced mix. It’s equal parts oak, spice, and sweet. The flavors are purposeful in their delivery, with an intensity that’s spot on. Overall it’s a delicious combination of flavors that highlights the heights a well-rounded barrel proof wheated bourbon is capable of.

finish

A warming heat comes initially, with cinnamon candy spice, nutmeg, and sweet caramel behind it. As it fades, the french toast note mingles back in, complemented by dry oak. It remains more sweet than oaky and doesn’t develop the astringency often found in wheated mashbills and in a number of past Larceny barrel proof batches in particular. Long and exceptionally well done.

uniqueness

Larceny Barrel Proof Bourbon was initially released in January 2020 to much fanfare. Batches followed at three per year, and have been teetering the fine line between good, to really good, to great, but none have really nailed it until now. Coming in at 126.6 proof, batch C922 is the highest proof release for the brand to date. Compared to previous batches, batch C922 pulls back on the astringency that can be found in this barrel proof wheater (and many other wheated whiskeys), it tames some of the excess heat (despite having a higher proof compared to past batches), and pulls in a subtle but persistent and enjoyable french toast flavor note that really makes it shine. This combination of attributes makes for a wonderful showing of the heights a barrel proof wheated bourbon in the 6-8 year age band can reach. As a result, Larceny Barrel Proof Batch C922 sets the bar for what future batches should strive to be. Moreover, it sets a benchmark for barrel proof wheated bourbons that so far, only Buffalo Trace Antique Collection’s William Larue Weller has been able to match.

value

Batch C922 maintains its $60 price point since the $10 increase seen with the last batch release. It’s now come in line with its barrel proof rye bourbon counterpart, Elijah Craig Barrel Proof. The price makes sense, because even though Elijah Craig Barrel Proof is 12 years old, Larceny Barrel Proof has a wheated mashbill, which is less common and sees less specific competition as a result. Maker’s Mark Cask Strength comes in around the same price, and Old Elk Wheated Bourbon Cask Strength comes in a bit higher at around $80.

Getting more specific, Larceny Barrel Proof is generally a pretty good value for any batch at $60, but the quality of the particular batch will make a difference and can push the value up or down a bit as a result. Batch C922 is the best batch to date, and arguably sets the mark for the height the brand is capable of reaching. As a result, it’s an outstanding deal at $60, and unlike most previous batches that don’t command too much more than their MSRP (despite what retailers try to charge for them), this one is worth spending a bit more on.

overall

Nearly three years since its initial release, Larceny Barrel Proof Bourbon steps up to the level that many whiskey drinkers have been yearning for.

Swapping wheat in place of rye in a bourbon’s mashbill isn’t new, but is still not nearly as popular by comparison. Since its initial release in 2020, I have enjoyed every batch of Larceny Barrel Proof, but always felt as if there was something better to come. For 2021’s Batch C921, Eric gave it a solid four barrels, but still noted the same thing we had all been feeling - there was still more potential for Larceny Barrel Proof - a sentiment that echoed between us. The first two 2022 batches were bold, but by my measure moved backward from Batch C921, delivering a lot of flavor but they were more unbalanced in their execution. Batch C922 leads with sweeter flavors traditionally attributed to a wheated bourbon mashbill, keeps the oak intact but as a complementary base, and tames the astringency and tannins that are known to push high proof wheated bourbons off balance. Having tasted every batch to date, I expected Larceny Barrel Proof to be good, but was a bit shocked by how well done this batch is, exceeding my expectations in many ways. Put simply, Larceny Barrel Proof Batch C922 finally hits the high watermark I always thought the brand was capable of. It’s a must buy for anyone who enjoys high proof bourbons, and is sure to generate buzz once the word gets out.

The sample used for this review was provided to us at no cost courtesy its respective company. We thank them for allowing us to review it with no strings attached.
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Written By: Nick

September 21, 2022
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