Some new bourbon and rye whiskeysJuly 27th, 2012
Heaven Hill’s Larceny
A review bottle of this showed up yesterday and I did not waste any time. I shared some of it last night with a friend. There’s an interesting story to it, so I will include part of the press release I received:
Heaven Hill Distilleries, Inc., announces the initial launch of Larceny Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey into 12 markets in September 2012. A super-premium 92 proof Bourbon, Larceny is the heir to the wheated Bourbons that make up the historic Old Fitzgerald franchise that Heaven Hill acquired in 1999. In fact, it is the somewhat controversial history of John E. Fitzgerald and his eponymous Bourbon brand that provides the story, and name, to Larceny Bourbon, the latest new label from the venerated distillery that produces Evan Williams and Elijah Craig Bourbons and Rittenhouse Rye.
Larceny Bourbon continues the Old Fitzgerald tradition of using wheat in place of rye as the third or “small” grain in the whiskey’s grain recipe, or mashbill as it is commonly known. The use of winter wheat replaces the spicier, fruitier flavor notes that rye provides with a softer, rounder character that is the hallmark of Old Fitzgerald and other “wheated” Bourbons such as Maker’s Mark and the Van Winkle line.
It is actually the story of the Old Fitzgerald brand, made famous by the late Julian “Pappy” Van Winkle Sr., that forms the historical basis for Larceny Bourbon. According to industry lore, John E. Fitzgerald had founded his distillery in Frankfort , KY shortly after the Civil War ended, making his Bourbon available only to steamship lines, rail lines and private clubs. This story was furthered by S.C Herbst, who owned the “Old Fitz” brand from the 1880’s through Prohibition, and “Pappy” Van Winkle, who purchased the brand revealed by Pappy’s granddaughter, Sally Van Winkle Campbell, in her 1999 book But Always Fine Bourbon—Pappy Van Winkle and the Story of Old Fitzgerald, that in fact John E. Fitzgerald was not a famous distiller at all. He was in reality a treasury agent who used his keys to the warehouses to pilfer Bourbon from the finest barrels. His discerning palate led those barrels to which he chose to help himself being referred to as “Fitzgerald barrels”.
Now Heaven Hill has launched Larceny, whose tagline—“A taste made famous by an infamous act”—sets history straight.
For 2012, Larceny will be available in the 1.75 liter, 1 liter, 750ml and 50ml sizes in California, Colorado, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Missouri, North Carolina, New York, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. At an average national retail price of $24.99 for the 750ml size, Larceny is a true small batch Bourbon produced from dumps of 100 or fewer barrels that have been selected from the 4th, 5th and 6th floors of Heaven Hill’s open rick warehouses in Nelson County, Kentucky. Larceny is drawn from barrels that have aged from 6 to 12 years at this high storage, and is bottled at a full-bodied 92 proof, or 46% alcohol by volume.
Okay, so what are my thoughts on this whiskey? It tastes very much like I expected it to taste. Like many wheated bourbons (think Maker’s Mark), it’s smooth and easy-drinking. The press release states there’s 6-12 year old whiskey in there. The majority might be on the younger end of the scale, but that’s okay. There’s just enough oak to balance the sweeter notes. I don’t think I would want this whiskey aged any longer. I like the whiskey. I would be more inclined to buy a bottle if it were $19.99 instead of $24.99, but I guess that this is the sign of the times. $25 is the new $20.
I can’t say for certain, but Jeff Arnett, Jack Daniel’s Master Distiller, will be speaking at WhiskyFest San Francisco in October and his topic is scheduled to be on a new rye whiskey. Just sayin’…
I was also checking the pour list for WhiskyFest San Francisco, and noticed an E.H. Taylor Straight Rye on the list. All the Taylor releases to date are from Buffalo Trace have been bourbons, so this would be the first rye release under the Taylor name. (Photo courtesy of Shelby Allison.)
Something new from Russell’s Reserve
There will be a new whiskey coming out in the Russell’s Reserve line. It’s being bottled soon and I’ll let you know more about it then. (I was asked to hold off saying anything at this time.) Stay tuned!
Have a good weekend, everyone!